The legendary Baylor grad behind 60 years of “Dave Campbell’s Texas Football”
Sometime this summer, it will pop up on newsstands across the Lone Star State, and when it does, everyone will know that football season isn’t too far away. We’re talking about Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, which for 60 years now has served as a “Bible of Texas football,” previewing Texas teams at every level — high school, college and pro.
It’s a source of pride for many Baylor fans that the magazine’s legendary creator is a Baylor graduate, and one of the most highly respected figures in Texas sports journalism. Waco native Dave Campbell, BA ’50, made his hometown university his college choice and initially had designs on becoming a chemist. But before he could dig fully into that major, World War II called. Campbell served in Europe and earned a Bronze Star before returning to campus and pivoting to a new major: journalism.
Campbell joined the Waco Tribune-Herald after graduation, and within three years he had ascended to the role of sports editor. Along the way, he met a co-worker, Reba — a 1947 Baylor graduate — who would eventually become his wife of more than 70 years. As Campbell built both relationships and a reputation for excellence throughout the sports world, he was also building the foundation for a magazine.
The tipping point for a magazine came in 1959 when Campbell read through several college football preview magazines and was aggravated by the number of errors they contained. Even worse, one left Baylor completely out of a Southwest Conference preview. Knowing he could do better, Campbell gathered colleagues around a kitchen table to put the idea together. They mailed questionnaires to coaches throughout the state, and by the summer of 1960, they had a magazine.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football was well-received, but it took several years for the magazine to become financially successful. As the decades passed, the publication’s reputation grew to the point that there was no more eagerly anticipated or highly trusted resource on the sport. The format has grown, but the template remains from the early days — previews of every Texas team at every level. Think how much work it would take to adequately preview just the high schools in and around Waco, much less DFW or Houston; then consider that the magazine covers all those and more — some 3,200+ high schools statewide. Pulling that off thoroughly and accurately has been (and remains) an incredible undertaking. Six decades after the first magazine, the brand has grown to add a comprehensive website and a sister basketball publication.
Now 95 and in his eighth decade in journalism, Campbell — now a member of both the Texas Sports and Baylor Athletics halls of fame — still writes. After retiring from the Trib in 1993, he spent 15 years writing for Bear Foundation members via the Baylor Bear Insider. Today, “Mr. Dave” continues to be a fixture at Baylor sporting events, and his name will long continue to be the authority in Texas football.
Sic ’em, Dave Campbell!