1967 - 68 Bears
Once again the player
numerals worn during 1966 were removed from both sides of the helmets
for the 1967 season and many of the players chose to wear the
distinctive Dunguard facemasks on their old gold Riddell shells with the
dark "Baylor green" one-inch center stripe. The season unfortunately,
was a 1-8-1 affair of “what might have been” the final three games were
each lost by six points or less. QB Ken Stockdale graduated and became
an assistant at Arkansas before a successful career in real estate and
he authored a book about football in the SWC in the 1960’s that was very
informative. The only bright light was defensive tackle Greg Pipes, an
All American who played for Edmonton in the CFL for four seasons.
Offensive tackle Richard Stevens was solid on the other side of the ball
at 6’6”, blocking for HB John Westbrook whose knee injury kept him off
of his fine debut performance of ’66. A number of supporters and
contributors were upset that Bridgers received a contract extension
following such a poor season. 1968 brought the introduction of a new 5-2
Monster Defense installed by Jack Green who had been hired from the
Kansas staff. Unfortunately, the new defense was less than defensive in
the opener, giving up forty points against Indiana and never provided an
answer to the onslaught of opponents. The defensive blood-letting
allowed point totals that read 40-28-48-35 in the first four games and
other than a 10-9 win over Texas A&M and a 16-7 victory over Rice in the
finale, the other games resulted in yields of 47-47-28 and 33 points.
Only a bit of high powered rushing by FB Pinky Palmer who set a new
season school record of 818 yards and the line play of center Calvin
Hunt, end Ted Gillum, and All SWC OT Stevens saved the Texas Tech game
for a 3-7 year. The Texas media deservedly compared former Dublin H.S.
star Stevens to the great Jim Ray Smith. Walk-on DT Tommy Reaux led the
overmatched defense. Despite the contract extension of a few months
prior, the John Bridgers era was over at Baylor. Still considered an
offensive mastermind, Bridgers joined Chuck Noll’s Steelers’ staff and
made a lasting contribution by convincing Noll and the staff to draft a
quarterback he could not convince to come to Baylor. That QB was Terry
Bradshaw who certainly altered the course of Steelers history. After an
assistant coaching position at South Carolina, Bridgers entered
administrative work and was a deft athletic director, taking Florida
State out of a deep financial deficit and hiring Bobby Bowden as the
head football coach, then doing a similar job at New Mexico. He took the
university through a nasty basketball scandal and oversaw the 1982 10-1
season of football coach Joe Morrison.
SPOTLIGHT ON JOHN WESTBROOK:
As a successful student and athlete at Elgin, TX Booker T. Washington High School, John Hill Westbrook was outstanding in every way. A fourth generation preacher, he was ordained in his early teens and impressed peers and adults with his willingness to apply his abilities to achieve excellence. Track, basketball, and football were all avenues to athletic achievement and he was Salutatorian of his graduating class. He enrolled at Baylor and received permission from Head Coach John Bridgers to walk onto the football team. He suffered some racial abuse as a frosh, from both teammates and coaches but overcame most of the prejudice he faced with his hard work and refusal to quit. He was granted an athletic scholarship and when the Bears entered the field of play against Syracuse for the opening game of the 1966 season, the date of September 10th became historical. SMU’s Jerry Levias was noted as the Southwest Conference’s first African-American scholarship football player but Westbrook beat him onto the actual field in a varsity game when he played halfback against Syracuse. Westbrook had a solid season but was hampered thereafter by a severe knee injury and a series of concussions. He was a contributor in ’67 and ’68, scoring the winning touchdown as Baylor defeated Rice in his senior season. Westbrook proved to be an inspiration, adding a Masters Degree in English to his Baylor undergraduate degree in English. He served as an academic advisor to Florida State athletes and held a number of positions for various religious organizations. He entered politics, running for Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1978 while teaching English at a small Texas college. He tragically died at the young age of thirty-five from a blood clot. His quiet strength and fortitude combined with graceful athletic ability made him a SWC pioneer and he remains a positive part of Baylor’s history.
If interested in any of these Baylor helmets please click on the photos below.