The boats cruised up and down the Brazos River, flying flags that declared the Baylor Bears as 2013 Big 12 champions.
The school’s 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III, dropped by to get a glimpse of his larger-than-life statue that will stand outside the south end zone.
Baylor president Ken Starr took it all in before Saturday’s game against SMU and declared McLane Stadium, the Bears’ new $260 million home, another “Miracle on the Brazos” for a school that has raised its football fortunes markedly in the six-year tenure of coach Art Briles.
Starr said he walked across the pedestrian bridge that spans the Brazos from the campus to the stadium with an undergraduate student before Sunday’s game against SMU. The student, Starr said, told him that he cried when he stepped inside the facility for the first time on Thursday.
“Those were tears of joy,” said Starr who declared the stadium funded by booster/namesake Drayton McLane “beyond our expectations.”
“We needed to dream big and to think boldly. That’s what Drayton told us to do and some of us weren’t very smart and couldn’t dream such great dreams,” Starr said. “But he did. And he brought some of us along.”
Griffin led fans in a “Sic ’em, Bears” chant after helping pull uncover his bronze likeness.
“It’s amazing,” Griffin said. “You don’t dream about that kind of stuff. There’s a Statue of Liberty … but you never dream of having a statue honoring your name.”
Asked about the Bears entering Sunday’s game ranked No. 10 in the nation, Griffin said: “I feel like Baylor is the powerhouse in Texas now. But I don’t know if anybody wants to admit that. Baylor has owned Texas for a while and is No. 10 in the nation and has a chance to compete for a national championship. So, I think things are going great.”
_ Jimmy Burch