Bevo XIV Has Died [Updated]

Bevo XIV Is Retiring

Editor’s note: This post was updated on Friday, Oct. 16.

“His name is BEVO,” wrote Ben Dyer in 1916, in the pages of this very magazine. “Long may he reign!”

In name, Bevo will turn 100 on Thanksgiving Day 2016, but it will be an as-yet-unknown steer bearing the name Bevo XV who’ll graze on his ceremonial bale of hay. Bevo XIV, born Sunrise Studly on April 8, 2002, died in his sleep today.

Bevo XIV was retired on Wednesday, after a diagnosis of bovine leukemia virus. The Silver Spurs, caretakers of each Bevo, will begin searching immediately for his successor, though there will not be a replacement until the 2016 football season.

Sunrise Studly became Bevo XIV in 2004, upon Bevo XIII’s retirement. The two steers attended the newest Bevo’s first game together against North Texas that year. At the conclusion of that season, Bevo XIV made the farthest trip of his life, and was on hand at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, to watch Texas defeat Michigan. All told, Texas was 106-41 during the 12 years Sunrise Studly bore the Bevo name.

“Bevo XIV has served as part of a great tradition, and was a rallying point for Longhorns fans,” said UT President Greg Fenves in a statement released erlier this week.

“His last few days provided great memories,” said Ricky Brennes, executive director of the Silver Spurs, in a statement released this morning, “but we miss him already.”

A Star Is Born

Bevo XIV was perhaps the most visible Bevo, with social media giving the 2,100-pound steer an even higher profile. He had his own Twitter account and Facebook fan page; he met celebrities like Matthew McConaughey, Kristen Bell, and Adam Sandler; and traveled to President George W. Bush’s second inauguration in January 2005. He even played Bevo IX in the upcoming film My All-American, which chronicles the 1969 Longhorns and its standout defensive star Freddie Steinmark.

His owners, Betty and John T. Baker, lent out Bevo for gameday to the Silver Spurs, as they did for Bevo XIII. The Silver Spurs transported the animal to arrive on campus three hours before gameday, complete with an escort from the Austin Police Department and a custom-built, air-conditioned trailer custom-built to accommodate his horns.

Bevo XIV made between 40-50 additional public appearances per year, with proceeds funding tutoring and mentoring for 6,000 East Austin children through the Neighborhood Longhorns Program. He also worked private events for a fee that topped out around $3,000. “[Bevo] XIII didn’t do half of what this one does,” Betty Baker told the Daily Texan in 2013. “I don’t know why they want him so much.”

Bevo XIV is also only one of three Bevos to serve as mascot during a national championship season (2005), along with Bevo VII (1963) and Bevo IX (1969-70).

What’s In a Name?

There are currently three accepted theories about the origin of the Bevo name. In 1916, Anheuser-Busch released a non-alcoholic drink of the same name, and though it became popular in later years, it was virtually unknown in Austin during the era. The Marx Brothers’ naming convention—Harpo, Groucho, Gummo—is another idea. Finally, “beeve,” the plural of “beef,” was also slang for “cow” or “steer” in Texas around the turn of the century. Regardless, Bevo I was originally called “Bo,” though he took the name Bevo shortly thereafter.

But Texas’ first mascot wasn’t a longhorn at all. It was a bulldog named Pig, who died when he was struck by a car at 24nd Street and Guadalupe, which, while tragic, inspired Pig’s now-iconic epitaph: “Pig’s Dead. Dog Gone.” The first Bevo arrived on Thanksgiving of 1916. An alumnus named Stephen Pickney purchased the steer from somewhere in the Texas Panhandle for $124, funds he solicited from the student body. But there wasn’t enough room on the Forty Acres for the both of them, and the more diminutive of the two mascots stuck around for the long haul. Bevo I was only in Austin sparingly, leaving in 1916 and not returning until 1920, as dinner. The team couldn’t care for an animal of Bevo’s size, so they fattened him up for slaughter, barbecued the steer, and ate him at a banquet. Texas A&M was invited, and they were served Bevo’s branded side, still bearing the “13-0” mark. The next Bevo didn’t arrive until 1936, and he only stuck around for three games. Bevo III came in 1945, and from then on, he has been the primary mascot.

The first six Bevos were known for their unbridled natures. Bevo II charged an SMU cheerleader. Bevo III escaped captivity and ran roughshod all over campus for two days. Bevo IV took his anger out on a parked car. Bevo V sent the Baylor band running, and Bevo VI did the same to Rice players, sending the rival Owls “flyin’ and scramblin’ like cold water on a hot griddle,” according to the book The Littlest Longhorn. Because Bevos have been much more docile since, it has been alleged that the mascot is medicated at games, though reports say that neither Bevo XIV nor his predecessor have been medicated for games or appearances.

A Win for Bevo

Longhorn fans were shocked to learn last week that Bevo would not be traveling with the team to the Cotton Bowl for the Red River Showdown, and well wishes poured in from all corners of social media—even from the Aggies. “We definitely did play for Bevo,” Texas quarterback Jerrod Heard said, after beating the Sooners 24-17. “I hope he gets well and I hope the best for Bevo.”

Rumors surfaced on Friday that Bevo XIV would be euthanized the Monday after the OU game. The decision to retire him instead came after medication had a positive effect on the steer over the weekend. Nevertheless, Sunrise Studly died peacefully just two days later, in the company of the Bakers and his best friend, a fellow steer named Sunrise Spike.

Bevo gets introduced to the Golden Hat on Tuesday, Oct. 13. Photo by Jim Sigmon / Texas Athletics


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