When you steal a steer in Texas there’s going to be Hell to pay.

It’s 1916, and a posse of wiry Texas cowboys are hot on the trail of a herd of Texas beef that’s been shanghaied down to Juarez, Mexico. Little did these men know that they were to be a part of Texas football culture that’s carried onto this day.

But a little history is first in order. In 1904 in Austin, Texas, the University of Texas football team, known variously as the T-men, or merely The Varsity, are set to inherit a new moniker when local scribe D.A Frank begins to refer to the team as the Longhorns. The wheels turn slowly, and though talk of procuring an actual Longhorn as a mascot for the team has went on for years, it’s 1916 before it actually happens.

UT alum and former football team manager, Steve Pinckney (class of 1911) has been earning his living tracking down cattle rustlers in West Texas for the better part of a year when he spies a particularly nice looking specimen with an appropriate orange and white hide.

Quickly issuing an appeal to his fellow Texas-exes, he soon has the creature’s purchase price of $124 dollars in hand. The deal is sealed and soon, a Texas longhorn that at one point has been rustled, smuggled into Juarez Mexico, and rescued back to the Lone Star state, is on his way to Austin in a cattle car.

Bevo’s grand unveiling is to be at half-time of the Thanksgiving day football match with the Farmers of Texas A&M. He is presented to the adoring crowds with a speech by Texas alum T.P Buffington (class of 1892) with the following: “……as the great Longhorn was free to roam the wilderness of Texas, so must the University be free to roam the world of thought, unhampered and unafraid. Beloved University, I present to you this longhorn steer”.

Although UT would prove to be the superior team on the football field that day, some wily Aggies have the last laugh when the following February a group of blackguard A&M students fall upon Bevo and brand him 13-0 to commemorate a previous Aggie football victory over the Longhorns.

Much hand-wringing ensues over the fate of Bevo, he’s moved to a ranch outside Austin to protect him from any further instances of malfeasance, the years pass and finally his fate is decided by UT’s athletic council.

He is to be slaughtered, barbecued and fed to the varsity lettermen, UT big wigs and {most mysteriously} members of the Aggie branding party at the university’s January 1920 football banquet.

It has been lost to the sands of time who the pit boss was who presided over the smoker Bevo 1 was consigned to. I’d love to read a history of barbecue joints that were operating in Austin in the 1920 range. And I’d really love to read about the one that was given the task of smoking the University’s first mascot.

 

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