Saturday, March 10, 2007

Onward Baylor Soldiers: Sackcloth and Ashes

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"So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun . . . " Ecclesiastes 2:20

The Mourning After

The BearMeat Editorial Board has felt this before. Baylor fans, alumni, and students have felt this before. This is an ancient feeling. We could get into the particulars about how the meltdown against UT perfectly symbolized the season for the Bears, but to do so would be to dignify this present moment with more significance than it deserves. For this is one moment in a continuum of tragedy, suffering and curses.

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Mrs. Kokernot, Weeping for Baylor

To help purge last night's loss of it's individual meaning, BearMeat presents Curses: A Guide to Tragedy on the Brazos. Remember that our greatest enemy is not UT, but it is our fate. We had previously believed that Mulk had lifted the many curses on both town and gown. We were wrong.

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Baylor: Why do bad things happen to beautiful people?

Curse One: The Death of William Cowper Brann. The controversial editor (and former BearMeat intern) of the Iconoclast, a contrarian national paper published in Waco, William Cowper Brann delighted in criticizing what he perceived as the hypocrisy of Baylorites. His repeated personal and institutional attacks led to his tar and feathering by a mob of Baylor students, who planned to lynch Brann, were it not for the intervention of cool-headed faculty at the B. His criticisms of Rufus Burleson's alleged improprieties with a Brazilian girl may have led to Burleson's forced resignation as BU president. Wacoans either sided with Brann or Baylor, and Brann caused two shootouts in the streets of Waco, the first involving the editor of the WacoTrib and a County Judge, the second leading to his death in 1897, after he killed his assailant with a pistol.

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Intern Brann's Death Came Two Years Before Our First Football Season

Curse Two: "The Waco Horror." One of the last public lynchings in Texas was in 1916 outside of the McLennan County Courthouse. Seventeen-year-old African American Jesse Washington, believed to be mentally retarded, was convicted of murdering a white woman. After a guilty verdict in the courtroom, Washington was dragged out into the street where he was strung up, tortured, burned and hanged to death by a mob of more than 400 angry white citizens. The lynching was reported on throughout the nation and brought much public outcry around the U.S. for its barbarity. Outraged by the event, Baylor's faculty passed a resolution condemning the lynching. This event still has political implications today, as the McLennan County Commissioners refused to apologize to African Americans for the lynching culture in the first quarter of the 20th century. Apparently, these old white men are fine with having blood on their institutional hands.

Curse Three: The Immortal Ten. A bus carrying the B's basketball team on its way to Austin for a game collides with a train in Round Rock, killing ten students. Does it get any more cursed than this? The Immortal Ten live on in student tradition, as the story is retold at Freshman Mass Meeting and is part of the lore of guarding the Eternal Flame that lights the bonfire during Homecoming Week. Baylor plans to enshrine this curse with a permanent on-campus memorial.

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Drew's Squad is Known as the All-Too-Mortal Twelve

Curse Four: The Waco Tornado. In 1953, the tenth deadliest tornado in U.S. history hit downtown Waco. The 300 mph winds and 30mph twister devastated the downtown business district and killed 114 people. The twister brought out the best in both Baylor and Waco as they rescued those trapped by the tornado, but utlimately, the tornado hastened urban decay and white flight. The twister savaged Waco's thriving middle class, which has never quite recovered.

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Curse Five: 1980 Cotton Bowl. Now, most Baylor fans and Wacoans won't consider this a true curse at all, but to BearMeat the Cotton Bowl played on New Year's Day 1981 was both the zenith of Baylor football and the beginning of the end. With Teaff at the helm and "Samurai" Mike Singletary on the field, this was Baylor at its most dominant. The game itself was a nightmare, with Bear Bryant's Alabama team feasting on bearmeat and whiping the Bears 30-2. Baylor finished the season #14 in the final AP poll, which was later beat by the '86 team, who finished #13. However, this was our last SWC championship, our last Cotton Bowl, and arguably the best team in school history. Since that day, we have been in a three-decade-long decline.

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One of 7 BU Turnovers Against Bama

Curse Six: The Branch Davidians. Anyone who has done any research on this subject knows that the federal government, especially the Justice Department under Janet Reno, but specifically the ATF, was responsible for the deaths of the men, women and children at Mt. Carmel. However, the curse for Waco was not the event, but it was the fact that the media linked the name Waco with the tragedy. The Mount Carmel site is technically in Elk, Texas, which is outside of Axtell. However, Elk and Axtell didn't have the same currency as Waco, which, the media reasoned, people had heard of before. So, a town already marred by tragedy became the rallying cry for all sorts of grassroots right-wing movements, leading to the rise of the militia movement and the Oklahoma City Bombings.

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"What a tangled web we weave . . . "

Curse Seven: Queso the Cat. Remember when Baylor baseball players beat, skinned, and decapitated a stray cat that hung around Taco Cabana? We do. The murder of Queso the Cat was a shameful and inhumane act by two Baylor baseball players. This was part of a long and sad history of BU's dark legacy of animal cruelty. Finally with the new Bear Pit, we're moving in the right direction, but the curse lives on.

Curse Eight: Dotson, Dennehey, and Dave Bliss. The Summer of 2003 brought to Baylor the worst NCAA scandal in history, when one player shot and killed another player, and their coach tried to pin NCAA and criminal violations on the murdered player. This was the low point of Baylor sports. Kevin Steele had just been let go after four pathetic years of football and then a national tragedy with its accompanying media attention descended upon Waco and Baylor. We can't imagine a worse tragedy befalling us.

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Bliss: "I am the harbinger of your shame."

So there you have BearMeat's Curses: A Guide to Tragedy on the Brazos. Hopefully that will help you put last night's devastating loss into its proper perspective. Yes, we set a Big12 Tourney record for biggest lead squandered. Yes, we can't close out big games. But thank God no one died.

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  • That Waco/Davidian thing bothers me more now that Dubya is in, not Waco, but Crawford. Isn't The Ranch closer to Waco than The Compound??

    By Blogger quash, at 11:05 AM  

  • I still hurt from last night. Did Drew show the team clips from Milo & Otis during halftime?

    By Blogger Pat Neffistopheles, at 12:17 PM  

  • Having lived in both locations over the years, I can authoritatively say that the Compound is much closer. I'm not sure which one is the greater tragedy.

    By Blogger Judge Baylor, at 1:49 PM  

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