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The Truth About Bevo and 9 More UT Facts

In honor of the inaugural Longhorn Traditions Week, learn about the greatest UT legends.

Two color orange horizontal divider

Bevo I made his debut in 1916 at the UT-Texas AandM football game. [Credit: UT Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History] 

“His name is Bevo. Long may he reign!”

With that declaration in the December 1916 issue of UT’s Alcalde alumni magazine, the university’s famous longhorn mascot was formally named. Bevo had made his debut the month before during UT’s 21-7 football victory over Texas AandM.

As UT historian Jim Nicar writes on his website, “‘Bevo’ was a play on the word ‘beeve,’ which is not only the plural of ‘beef’ but long used as slang for a cow or steer destined to become food.” (While Bevo I did indeed meet that fate, today’s Bevos live out their retirement years peacefully at a private ranch.)

The better known story is that Bevo earned his moniker a few months later, after a group of Texas AandM students branded him with “13-0,” the Aggies’ winning score from the 1915 football match-up. As legend has it, Longhorns responded by altering the “13” to a “B,” the dash to an “E,” and then added a “V” in front of the “0.”

But while the Aggies did successfully vandalize the steer, they can’t take credit for the name.

A campus as old as this one (UT celebrated its 130th birthday in September) is crawling with lore. Today the university kicks off the inaugural Longhorn Traditions Week, culminating with the Texas-OU football game on Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Activities include Tower Tours, “Wear your Orange Wednesday” and the annual Torchlight Parade to cheer on the football team.

And the Office of the Dean of Students has been counting down 17 Days of Longhorn Pride (in honor of the Class of 2017), sharing trivia, traditions and facts about the Forty Acres. Below are a few of our favorites. Be sure to follow @UTDoS on Twitter for more trivia the rest of the week.

Longhorn band

The Longhorn Band in “Texas” formation. [Credit: UT Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History] 
  • The Tower was first lit during the 1937 football season.
  • Orange and white first made their appearance as school colors in 1885 when two Texas fans on the way to a baseball game ran to a general store in search of matching ribbons for the crowd. The shopkeeper sold them orange and white because those were the colors he had the most in stock. The colors were officially adopted in 1900. Burnt orange entered the picture in 1928, when football coach Clyde Littlefield ordered uniforms that wouldn’t fade.
University of Texas baseball team circa 1898

The University of Texas baseball team photo in the 1898 Cactus yearbook. [Credit: UT Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History] 
  • The original school song was “Jolly Students of the ‘Varsity,” composed in 1902 by Longhorn band members John Lang Sinclair and Lewis Johnson. Sinclair and Johnson wrote “The Eyes of Texas” the following year.

Original Eyes of Texas lyrics

Sinclair’s hand-written lyrics to “The Eyes of Texas.” Click the image to see the full lyrics at a larger size. [Credit: UT Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History] 

  • The Texas State Capitol building is four feet taller than the UT Tower, but the Tower was built at a higher elevation, giving it a two-foot advantage.
  • The Littlefield Fountain commemorates UT students and alumni who died in World War I.
Littlefield Fountain

Littlefield Fountain, located on the South Mall. [Credit: Marsha Miller] 
  • The university libraries hold approximately 8 million volumes, including more than 70 miles of book stacks in the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL).
  • Smokey the Cannon was built in 1953 by the university’s mechanical engineering laboratory in answer to the traditional shotgun blasts heard at Texas-Oklahoma football games. Smokey is fired every time the Longhorns score a touchdown.
  • UT legend says that seeing one of the famous campus “albino” squirrels on the way to an exam guarantees an A.
UT albino squirrel

“It’s a color variant, not a true albino,” UT biologist David Hills clarified in the July/August 2013 Alcalde magazine. 
  • The Hook ’em Horns hand signal named the top college hand sign by Sports Illustrated was introduced in a 1955 pep rally by head cheerleader Harley Clark, Jr.
UT cheerleaders 1963

UT varsity cheerleaders, including Kathryn Ann Bailey, aka retired U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.[Credit: UT Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History] 
Want more nostalgia? Take a look at these photographs, all from UT Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History.
Female University of Texas athletes 1920

A UT tennis player, golfer, archer and basketball player, circa 1920-30. 
Big Bertha drum

The famous Big Bertha drum was built in 1922, weighs more than 500 pounds and measures eight feet in diameter. 
University of Texas parade car

A car decorated for a UT parade, circa 1910-1920. 
University of Texas sorority dance 1967

Students dance at the 1967 Chi Phi Texas-OU Weekend party. 
University of Texas football players 1910

The 1910 Longhorns in new orange and white blankets.