Remembering a Baylor legend: Dave Campbell
Sometime next 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.
But next year’s edition will hit differently, as it will be the first to follow its namesake’s passing. Campbell (BA ’50) — a leading Texas sports journalist for 50+ years, and a Baylor legend — passed away Friday at age 96.
It has long been a source of pride for many Baylor fans that Texas Football‘s legendary creator was a Baylor graduate, and one of the most highly respected figures in Texas sports journalism. But it almost never happened; Campbell, a Waco native, 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 to Europe, where he 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 the magazine came in 1959 when Campbell read through several college football preview magazines and was aggravated by the number of errors they contained. One even 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, and by the summer of 1960, they had a magazine. Over the coming decades, the publication’s reputation grew to the point that there was no more eagerly anticipated or highly trusted resource on the sport.
If the magazine was Campbell’s only legacy, it would be incredible. But the Texas Sports and Baylor Athletics hall of famer also spent 40 years as sports editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald, another 15 years writing for Bear Foundation members via the Baylor Bear Insider, and remained a fixture at Baylor sporting events right up to the end. On top of it all, Campbell established a reputation as an incredible mentor and friend to countless Texas sports writers over his nearly 80 years in journalism.
Sic ’em, Dave Campbell!