Baylor Bears

Bill Glass, Baylor football great, hurts for his alma mater

Bill Glass during his football-playing days at Baylor University.
Bill Glass during his football-playing days at Baylor University. Baylor University

Baylor’s first unanimous football All-American and one of the school’s most distinguished alumni heard a cry one morning outside his Waxahachie home.

The Rev. Bill Glass found that his wife, Mavis, had fallen and broken a hip while tending to her roses.

Since the mishap, his granddaughter, Brooke Glass, has been driving her 80-year-old grandfather each day to a Dallas rehab facility where this gentle giant of a man sits at the bedside of the love of his life.

Glass believes in the sanctity of marriage — they’ve been married since 1957 — and the power of prayer.

He prayed at Baylor, where he grew into one of the college game’s best players.

He prayed when he played for the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound All-Pro defensive end helped the Browns win the NFL championship in 1964, the highlight of his athletic career.

Three years ago, when Baylor beat Texas in the final game in old Floyd Casey Stadium, Glass delivered the pre-game prayer.

The former Baylor regent who oversees one the nation’s largest prison ministries finds himself praying a lot lately, mostly for healing.

Glass prays his wife can come home soon.

He also prays that Baylor University leadership will make the right decisions as his school tries to distance itself from a sexual assault scandal that has undermined its integrity and tarnished its reputation.

“I’m hurt that this hurts Baylor,” Glass said. “I don’t know what’s true and what’s not. If there is culpability there, I’m not excusing Baylor in any way. They’ve got to be honest and face up to it. They can’t sweep it under the rug.”

‘Hoping Baylor can get through this’

An independent investigation commissioned by the board of regents reported that in recent years Baylor failed to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence committed by members of its football team.

The athletic department allegedly operated its own internal system of discipline, which largely served to keep players insulated from the appropriate disciplinary consequences.

Ken Starr is out as school president and chancellor. Athletic director Ian McCaw resigned. Head coach Art Briles, who led the Bears to two Big 12 championships in the last three years and became Baylor’s first coach to post three consecutive 10-win seasons, is fired.

“I don’t want to get preachy,” Glass said, “but there’s a verse of Scripture” — Romans 8:28 — “that’s very meaningful to me. ‘All things work together for good to them that love God.’ To me the all implies that even things that are just deplorable can work together for good.”

“My position,” Glass said, “is that I’m going to pray for ’em and continue to love ’em. I’m hoping Baylor can get through this and come out stronger.”

When he hears the allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence it’s difficult for him to believe they are talking about the same school he attended.

The Corpus Christi native chose Baylor over scholarship offers from every other Southwest Conference school because he had become a Christian in high school and believed the Waco school “would keep me on the right path.”

Glass helped form the Baylor chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

He met Mavis, then a freshman, at a “Singspiration,” where students gathered at noon in the student union building and sang Christian songs.

Campus life in the 1950s, Glass recalled, was as wholesome as the milkshake he and Mavis shared at the Baylor Drug. The Waco newspaper, he recalled, captured the romantic moment in a front-page photo.

Pulling a prank at Baylor

The closest Glass came to lawless behavior happened one night when he and three fellow freshman football players donned raincoats and black hoods and stormed into Brooks Hall.

They kidnapped the sophomore president.

With Glass behind the wheel, the teens drove a few miles outside Waco and left their victim there, alone, in the dark, dressed in his pajamas.

It was far from the perfect crime.

“Before midnight, I heard knocking on my door,” Glass said, picking up the story. Coaches had aleady found out about the prank.

The school convened a hearing.

Glass and his buddies faced a disciplinary committee made up of professors, deans and coaches.

The dean of students went to great lengths to chastise the players for their irresponsible, juvenile and un-Christian behavior.

“How did you make those hoods!” he asked, his voice rising.

The question wasn’t directed at any one person, but Glass’ close friend and teammate Charlie Johnson, who later played 11 years in the NFL and then practiced law in Dallas, took it upon himself to provide a detailed answer.

“Wey-ul, Dean,” Glass said, mimicking Johnson’s East Texas twang, “it’s really not that hard. Yew jes cut a little square of cloth ’n’ sew it up on both sides and the top. Then you need to cut yew out some eyeholes, and a nose hole and mouth hole. And, well, there yew have it, Dean!”

The dean was not amused.

The committee conferred and handed out its punishment.

“I think I got 19 demerits,” Glass said, “and it took 20 to get kicked out of school.”

Glass never told the committee that his own mother had fashioned the hoods on her sewing machine, thinking she was making Halloween masks.