The Baylor Line: Celebrating 50 years of a unique college football tradition
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Baylor Line, one of college football’s great student traditions. How did the Baylor Line move from the university’s school song to the tradition we all know today? That’s where Mike Plunk (BS ’71, DDS ’74), Kirk Newsom (BS ’72, JD ’75) and Bruce Finley (BA ’73, BBA ’74) come in.
In 1970, Plunk, Newsom and Finley sat together, heads low about the 0-10 football record the year before. The Bears were in a slump, having finished above .500 only twice in the last decade, and fan interest was low. As Baylor Yell Leaders, they felt led to boost Baylor morale.
“At the time, we were trying to change the mindset of the student body and get Baylor fans excited again,” says Plunk. “We weren’t necessarily thinking about anything long term.”
After passing around ideas, they settled on an idea involving students supporting Baylor Yell Leaders. Ideally, members were to sit on the 50-yard line, work the card section, and — above all — cheer on the Bears. The trio started recruiting first-year men by word-of-mouth, and they even placed an ad in the Baylor Lariat promoting a freshman-only spirit organization.
“We originally were looking for about 50 men to join, thinking only 25 would show. Imagine our surprise when over 200 freshmen showed up,” says Finley. They admitted every one, calling them “Freshman Men.”
In 1971, “The Sideline” was created as a parallel organization for women. Both organizations wore special t-shirts and cheered from special sections in the stands. Plunk says members felt it was an honor to be part of these groups. From then on, this extension of the Baylor Spirit Squads showed up to back the Bears through good seasons and bad.
A half century later, the Baylor Line is now an essential part of Baylor tradition. The Line we recognize today debuted in the mid 1990s and is sponsored by Baylor Chamber. This version includes all new Baylor students — both men and women, and even trasnfers in their first year — who wear special jerseys as they run across the field to form a human tunnel for the Baylor football team as it enters the field. They then head to their exclusive section in the stands, directly behind the visitors’ bench.
“We are so humbled and in awe our original idea lives on,” says Finley. “This legacy has even more meaning knowing my own family members will run the Line for years to come.”
Like most things on campus, the Baylor Line experience will be a bit different this year, as the university takes some extra precautions to make sure they can run safely, but #BU24 seems eager to make the best of it and carry on this cherished tradition.
Sic ’em, Bruce, Mike, Kirk, and the Baylor Line!