WACO, Texas (KWTX) More than six decades has passed since Baylor last played in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and veteran journalist Hal Wingo, who was then the editor of the campus paper “The Lariat” remembers the game in which the Bears upset undefeated Tennessee 13-6 as if it were played yesterday.
Veteran journalist Hal Wingo, who was then the editor of the campus paper “The Lariat” remembers the game in which the Bears upset undefeated Tennessee 13-6 as if it were played yesterday. (Texas Collection photo)
“It was hysteria on campus when judgment was made Baylor was going to play in the Sugar Bowl,” he said.
“It’s hard to imagine the amount of enthusiasm can be generated off of something like that but that's Texas football for you.”
“You would have thought World War II had ended. It was just amazing,” said Wingo, who worked as a correspondent and editor at “LIFE” and “People Weekly” magazines and was one of the founding editors of “People Weekly” during his more than three-decade career with Time, Inc.
Wingo, a 1957 Baylor graduate and former university regent whose Son Trey, also a Baylor graduate, is an award-winning ESPN co-host, says Baylor’s football program was nothing like it is today.
“This is probably hard for anyone these days to imagine how impotent Baylor football was during my time, but football was simply not what Baylor excelled at,” Wingo said.
But fans were no less loyal.
“You can’t be in Texas and not be a fan,” he said.
“Football was a big deal even when we weren't very good at it.”
And for students, football games were formal occasions.
“It was a dress-up affair,” he said.
“We sent corsages to our dates, I don’t remember if the girls wore gloves or not but they got dressed up,” Wingo said.
T-shirts and shorts are the norm now, and it’s fair to say Baylor has changed a lot over the last 60 years.
“It’s very different in many ways,” he said,
“Physically it doesn't look like the old school at all. It's a much bigger school. The population was only 5,000 in my time,” Wingo said.
Now Baylor has nearly tripled in size with 13,000 students on its campus.
“Baylor gave me a lot of opportunities… editing the Lariat for two quarters was very grounding for me, our advisor gave us free rein and plenty of rope to hang ourselves if we made mistakes…I'm grateful for that because it gave me the conviction that maybe I can do something with this kind of life and as it turns out, I had a big run,” Wingo said.
Wingo now lives in Palm Springs, Calif. where he still cheers on the Bears and where and his family will be watching Wednesday night’s game.
His wife Paula and daughter Nancie are also Baylor graduates.