1947 - 65  Bears
(Authentic Reproduction)




Always at a disadvantage as a private school mired in a conference with the state-supported powerhouses Texas and Texas A&M, Baylor football could point to the 1920’s and ‘30’s as a time they could be competitive with their in-state rivals. In the huge expanse of land that is Texas, football always has been a very serious activity. Thus the Texas State Legislature insured that the two flagship universities that represented the State of Texas on the national stage, remained well funded. Baylor, Texas Christian, Southern Methodist, and Rice Universities began to fall behind. The number of scholarships and the athletic facilities did not keep pace and by the 1940’s Baylor in particular with its high academic standards and church mandated code of behavior, began to fall behind faster in the football wars perhaps a bit more than the other private universities. Even into the start of the 1970’s, Baylor’s “biggest win” in the eyes of many of its supporters was in fact a 7-7 tie against number-one ranked Texas in 1941. The team was disbanded for 1943 and ’44 due to the wartime effort and when the program was restarted in 1945, a 5-5 and 1-8 pair of finishes moved the Board to seek out a young, enthusiastic coach that would infuse the program with energy and a competitive spirit. Bob Woodruff was the man chosen for the task, a former University Of Tennessee line standout under their legendary head coach General Bob Neyland. Woodruff had served as a Tennessee assistant before entering the military, left the U.S. Army with the rank of Major before assisting legendary West Point Head Coach Earl Blaik, and completed an impressive coaching resume with a year working as the line coach for what could be considered yet a third great legendary coach, Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech. For the 1947 season, he brought former Georgia Tech quarterback and future College Football Hall Of Famer Frank Broyles with him as his backfield coach. Woodruff’s lauded coaching pedigree could not overcome a lack of material and his first season ended with a 5-5 record with freshman QB Hayden Fry, a schoolboy hero for taking his Odessa High School team to the state title and backs Jerry Mangum and Dudley Parker making headlines. The forward thinking Woodruff who had exposure to the Riddell RT plastic helmets while assisting at West Point in 1944 and 1945, outfitted his 1947 squad in old gold Riddell RT shells that were augmented with a dark “Baylor green” one-inch center stripe, a combination that would mark Baylor teams for many seasons. 


Taking a team with improved desire and competitiveness through a difficult schedule gave the faithful hope, especially with All SWC back George “Gabby” Sims who later played DB for the Rams, Fry and Mangum continuing to improve and the development of All Conference linemen tackle Robert “Buddy” Tinsley who was with the AAFC Los Angeles team in ’49 before playing eleven seasons for Winnipeg in the CFL, and guards Chuck Stone and Bentley Jones. JC transfer Adrian Burk’s pinpoint passing with Harold Riley as a primary receiver opened up the offense and resulted in six consecutive victories and a 6-3-2 record. The reward for the 1948 season was a 20-7 face-off with Wake Forest in the Dixie Bowl which ended the year on a high note. With talented end Riley going out with a broken leg, QB Adrian Burk spent the 1949 season looking to other receiving candidates like All American J.D. Ison, maintained the emphasis on the pass, and led the Bears to an 8-2 finish. With excellent play from end Donald Mouser, FB Jerry Mangum, and both DB Bobby Griffin and DG Stone on the defense, Burk earned All SWC and All American honors throwing fourteen TD passes and went on to a pro career as a QB and punter first for the Colts before spending six seasons with the Eagles. The 21-7 loss to Rice left Baylor in second place to the Owls and cost them the Sugar Bowl bid. Woodruff had an ongoing dispute with what he termed “the Baylor old guard” and felt as if his team was often very limited by financial considerations. Minor incidents such as serving the team sandwiches instead of a hot meal after their huge Homecoming victory over TCU were interpreted as major insults and Woodruff took the offer to become the head coach at the University Of Florida where he was successful in building their program to respectability as both the head football coach and athletic director.  


George H. Sauer, Senior who had been an All American fullback at Nebraska under their famous head coach Dana X. Bible, was named as the new head coach for the 1950 season. After two years with the Green Bay Packers, he had been successful in his first head coaching position at the University Of New Hampshire, a six year tenure that brought a winning record to the small school. and he then entered the military service, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Navy. He put together fifteen victories in only two seasons at Kansas and after taking the Jayhawks to the Orange Bowl and a number twelve national ranking, decided to take the head coaching job at the U.S. Naval Academy during one of their most difficult periods. His two losing seasons were positively punctuated by one of the all time upsets in college football history as the Midshipmen tied mighty Army 21-21 in a classic battle. The situation at Navy ( see HELMET HUT feature ) pushed him to the Baylor job. Despite tremendous graduation losses, Sauer compiled an excellent 7-3 year and a second place conference finish. Having been stuck behind Adrian Burk who transferred into Baylor from Kilgore JC with his accurate arm, quarterback Hayden Fry continued to develop but found himself in competition with “Laughing Larry” Isbell, the younger brother of Cecil Isbell, the former Purdue star who was the Packers’ QB who threw the passes to the great Don Hutson. Larry, a deft ball-handler, would be the All Southwest Conference choice for the 1950 season. Fry of course had great success as the head coach of SMU where he recruited Jerry Levias to be the first African American scholarship player in the Southwest Conference, North Texas State, and at Iowa. Most impressively, Fry nurtured numerous assistants who went on to head coaching positions including Dan McCarney at Iowa State, Bill Snyder of Kansas State, Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema at Wisconsin, Kirk Ferentz at Iowa, Chuck Long at San Diego State, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, Jim Leavitt at South Florida, and Mike Stoops at Arizona. His legacy found him as a 2003 inductee to the College Football Hall Of Fame. Recovering from his broken leg of the season before, end Harold Riley was a great target as was Stanley Williams. Williams, with DB Johnny Curtis and defensive guard Bill Athey were All Conference honorees. One of the Bears’ “secret weapons” was the coach’s son, George, Jr. who was viewed by the squad as their mascot and good luck charm. At the age of seven he would don an official, though scaled down Baylor uniform and roam the sidelines, exhorting his heroes to play their best, and he would frequently offer coaching advice to his father.


The successful 1951 8-2-1 contingent was most often referred to as “The Isbell Bunch” with their All American and All SWC QB Larry Isbell the undisputed leader of one of Baylor’s all time best squads. Known best for his ball-handling sleight of hand, “Laughing Larry” would often grin or laugh out loud as opponents stared at him, ball on his hip, as they cut away to tackle a back Isbell had faked to. An All American in baseball also, Isbell was the first round draft choice of the Washington Redskins but instead opted for a baseball career with the Boston Red Sox, doubling as manager of a minor league club in Canada. He later played in the CFL and Baylor’s annual Baseball MVP Award is named for him. The supporting cast was outstanding with Isbell’s passing making an All American out of end Stan Williams who doubled at DB and did the same in 1952 for the NFL Dallas Texans.  All American DT Ken Casner played with the Rams in ’52 and later in the CFL and posed a formidable front with Second Team All American NG Bill Athey. Soph HB Jerry Coody lived up to his top advanced billing and FB Richard Parma provided the punch behind center Jack Sisco.  LB Gale Galloway was a key to the defense. Upset by TCU, the loss cost the Bears the Conference title but they still finished the season ranked ninth nationally. Baylor ended the year with a tough 17-14 loss to Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Despite the loss of graduating starters, Sauer put an explosive team onto the field in ’52 although the defense often sagged, resulting in their 4-4-2 mark. Individual stars abounded in All Americans HB Coody who was as good on defense as he was on offense when placed there, 6’4” tackle Robert Knowles, and very active defensive guard Bill Athey. HB Louis George “Long Gone” Dupre and tough center Jack Sisco also received some All American and All Conference honors while QB Francis “Cotton” Davidson put himself in front of the pack. With one-platoon football the order of the day, famous Chicago Bear star Clyde “Bulldog” Turner was added as a part-time staff member prior to the 1953 season and All SWC HB Jerry Coody was, with All American tackle Jim Ray Smith, the most effective Bears on the field in a surprisingly good 7-3 year. QB “Cotton” Davidson lit things up enough to become the number one draft choice of the Baltimore Colts and he enjoyed a long professional career, starring as an All Pro in the early days of the American Football League. HB Dupre and tackle Knowles again stood out but the lack of depth led to losses in three of the last four games when the defense fell short. The real excitement was with the frosh team as giant lineman Bill Glass and flashy HB Del Shofner stood out on an undefeated squad. 


Baylor backers were pleased that Coach Sauer, when offered the head coaching job at his alma mater Nebraska for the 1954 season, rebuffed it. No doubt he wanted a chance to coach the great sophomores joining the team such as Bill Glass, Del Shofner, and Bobby Jones. Shofner, a painfully thin though speedy back and receiver, was put on a diet of extra steaks that unfortunately failed to enhance his weight gains, yet he was a very effective weapon as the SWC Sophomore Of The Year. End and DB Henry Gremminger was All Conference and was named to some All American squads and “Long Gone” Dupre was solid enough to go with the Colts from ’55 through 1959 and then return to Texas as a member of the expansion Cowboys in 1960 and ’61. While lineman Glass learned the ropes, the real star of the 7-4 squad that earned a Gator Bowl bid to face Auburn, a 33-13 loss, was tackle Jim Ray Smith who improved from an All American season in 1953 to gain nation-wide acclaim and further All American accolades. He starred with the Browns for seven seasons and like Dupre, finished with two seasons in Dallas as a Cowboy.  




As a four sport star at West Columbia High School in Texas, James Ray Smith was projected as “a sure thing” at the athletic endeavor of his choice once he arrived at college. The 6’3”, 240 pound tackle also maintained his reputation for good citizenship, leaving Baylor not only as a two-time All Southwest Conference and All American pick, but as a popular teammate deemed to be a positive force on the Baptist campus. Voted into The College Football Hall Of Fame, Smith spent off-hours working for the Baylor Chamber Of Commerce, and combined that with often being an unstoppable two-way performer on the field, Smith was the perfect type of player for Paul Brown’s professional teams and the Cleveland Browns drafted him even though he had another season of collegiate eligibility. After serving in the U.S. Army for two years, he joined the Browns in the midst of the 1956 season, filling a need at defensive end. Smith was moved to offensive guard for the 1957 season and responded as one of the all time greats in Browns’ history. He was one of the factors that made rookie Jim Brown an immediate impact player his rookie season and throughout his career. A five time Pro Bowl choice, Smith completed his pro career with two seasons in Dallas with the new Cowboys franchise and became a successful businessman in Dallas. He has served as president of the Cotton Bowl Association and of the Baylor’s Lettermen’s Club and in addition to being a member of the Texas Athletic Hall Of Fame, was elected as one of the Cleveland Browns Legends by fan vote in 2008.   


With HB Del Shofner injured a good part of the 1955 season, co-captain and All American end Henry Gremminger was the go-to guy. Gremminger was stellar on defense and he was a key to Lombardi’s early great teams with the Packers. Bill Glass was effective at tackle next to end Tony DeGrazier but the best the Bears could muster was a 5-5 finish. Sauer decided to move up to the full time Athletic Director’s post and did an excellent job in improving Baylor’s facilities. Looking back on his coaching career, it was noted that he had won conference championships or gone to bowl games with New Hampshire, Kansas, and Baylor. When he left Baylor he spent two years in the insurance business and then became the American Football League’s  N.Y. Titans General Manager and backfield coach. He remained with the team as their first Director of Player Personnel when they became the N.Y. Jets. He stayed with the Jets through their Super Bowl win and his son George, Jr. who had been the Bears' mascot as a young boy, went on to star at Texas and then play for the Jets for six seasons, much of it while his father was with the club. Staff assistant Sam Boyd who had starred as an All Conference end on the Baylor squads of the late-1930’s and then played two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, had been coaxed out of private business to join Sauer when he first took the reins as head coach. A popular assistant, he readily accepted the head coaching job for 1956. He had the advantage of putting Bill Glass on the field, the All American defensive end who could have played any of the defensive positions at an All American level.  This surprise squad finished at 9-2, lost a clean but classically hard fought contest against Texas A&M in one of the all time great SWC games, and defeated number two Tennessee 13-7 in the Sugar Bowl. The October 27th game against Texas A&M was termed “the bloodiest, meanest, toughest game I’ve ever seen” by Aggie head coach Bear Bryant and the controversial 19-12 Baylor loss was decided on a most controversial fourth quarter fumble decision by the referees. The historic Sugar Bowl game was marred by the ejection of tough FB Larry Hickman who came to the defense of a teammate he felt was being physically abused by Tennessee’s Bruce Burnham. A well placed Hickman kick to Burnham’s head rendered the offending Vol unconscious, the only black mark in a game that proved that Baylor could in fact win the big one. Soph QB Loyle “Buddy” Humphrey became the team leader with co-captain and end Tony DeGrazier. All Conference HB Shofner stayed healthy and was terrific.  Shofner was the first round draft choice of the Rams and he was an effective receiver with them until 1961 when he was traded to the Giants. He and newly acquired quarterback Y.A. Tittle both revived their careers with startling pass-catch numbers and Shofner remained a key member of the Giants offense through the 1967 season. The line play was excellent led by All American Glass who had played every front position in his time at Baylor, tackles Paul Dickson, Bobby Jack Oliver, and Charley Bradshaw, and All SWC end Jerry Marcontell. Glass had an excellent professional career with the Browns. The 8-2 season culminated in the historic Sugar Bowl face-off against number two ranked Tennessee with Humphrey scoring the winning TD on a quarterback sneak.  




Despite being a member of The College Football Hall Of Fame, a Consensus All American and All SWC player at Baylor, and a four time All Pro with the Cleveland Browns, Bill Glass is better known by literally millions of people as the founder of The Bill Glass Ministries and Champions For Life Christian Ministries. A fine athlete at W.B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi, Glass stood out at Baylor, not only for his 6’4” height and football prowess, but because even as an undergraduate, he was dedicating his life to his religious beliefs. He helped to found the Baylor chapter of The Campus Crusade For Christ with the same discipline and dedication he utilized on the football field as a force that could control the line of scrimmage against any opponent. Tallying 154 tackles in his senior season, he first went to Canada and played for Saskatchewan before joining the Detroit Lions for four seasons. It was with the Browns that he blossomed, playing from ’62 through 1968 and attaining All Pro status. In the off-seasons Glass attended the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and worked with Reverend Dr. Billy Graham who encouraged him to form his own ministry. Doing so, Glass has published many books and has had television specials showing the work he has done among youth at risk and in prisons. Two of his sons later lettered as Baylor football players.

If interested in any of these Baylor helmets please click on the photos below.