The Saga of Burnt Orange

A substantial part of the article below is discussed in detail in this  link from Alcalde.

Baseball, not football, was the sport of choice for UT students in the 1880s. In the spring of 1885, when the University was not yet two years old, a student enrolled who claimed to have the only curve ball pitch in the state. The curve ball was a new addition to the game, welcomed by baseball progressives, and hated by the sport's purists. Nevertheless, University students formed a team "that rated high in brain power, low in brute force," and challenged any college in Texas to a game. Southwestern University, thirty miles north in Georgetown, answered the call and invited UT to a picnic and baseball contest. The University accepted, and students arranged to make the trip to Georgetown on a chartered train.

On a Saturday morning in April 1885, the first UT baseball team, along with most of the student body, arrived at the downtown Austin train station at 3rd Street and Congress Avenue, and boarded the passenger cars bound for Georgetown. Everything was on schedule until the final whistle sounded. Just as the train was ready to leave, two coeds announced the need for some ribbon to identify them as University of Texas supporters.

Today's college fans arrive at stadiums clad in t-shirts and caps. But in the 1880s, colored ribbons were worn on lapels to show team loyalty. The more enterprising male students sported longer ribbons, so they would have extra to share with a pretty girl who had none. The truly ingenious (or just plain desperate) wore ribbons almost down to their knees.

The dates of the two Texas coeds, Venable Proctor and Clarence Miller, ever eager to impress the ladies, jumped off the train and sprinted a block north along Congress Avenue to the nearest general store. Between gasps for breath, they managed to ask the shopkeeper for three bolts of two colors of ribbon. "What colors?" the shopkeeper asked. "Anything," was the response. After all, the train was leaving the station, and there was no time to be particular.

The shopkeeper gave them the colors he had the most in stock: white ribbon, which was popular for weddings and parties and was always in demand, and bright orange ribbon, because no one bought the color, and the store had plenty to spare.

Loaded with their supplies, Proctor and Miller ran back and boarded the moving train as it left for Georgetown. Along the way, the ribbon was evenly divided and distributed to everyone except for a law student named Yancey Lewis, "who had evolved a barbaric scheme of individual adornment by utilizing the remnants."

Unfortunately, it rained that Saturday afternoon, the curve ball curved not, and Texas outfielders ran weary miles in a lost cause. According to one witness, the University's colors were "christened on a dire and stricken field."

Or were they? Even though the first baseball team had sported orange and white, the colors were by no means official, and subject to the whims of future UT students.

After a decade of starts and stops, the University of Texas fielded its first "permanent" football team in 1893. The first recorded game was actually ten years earlier, during UT's very first fall term, though it was a rather embarrassing two-goals-to-none loss against a group of high school students at the Bickler School in downtown Austin. Football, the newfangled sport that could draw 50,000 spectators to a Princeton-Yale game in the 1880s, required a little more time to be accepted in the Lone Star State.

The UT football team of 1893 played four games, a pair in the fall and two more in the spring. The first was against the Dallas Foot Ball Club that claimed to be the best in the state. Held at the Dallas Fair Grounds, the game attracted a record 1200 onlookers. It was a tough and spirited match, but when the dust had settled, the "University Eleven" had pulled off an 18 - 16 upset. "Our name is pants, and our glory has departed," growled the Dallas Daily News. The UT club would go on to a spotless record and earn the undisputed boast of "best in Texas."

The University team, though, didn't wear orange. Their striped uniforms were gold and white.

In the 1890s, the forty-acre UT campus consisted of a still-unfinished Victorian-Gothic Main Building, a chemical lab building to its northwest, and a plain-looking men's dorm, known as Brackenridge Hall, or "B." Hall, nestled down the hill to the east. All were fashioned from pale yellow Austin pressed brick, and trimmed with cream-colored limestone quarried in nearby Cedar Park. (The Gebauer Building, built in 1904 for engineering, is today the home for College of Liberal Arts, and is the last survivor of this early UT architecture.)

1893 Students identified themselves with their surroundings on the campus, and several University teams donned gold and white uniforms.

1894 Gold and White Of course was not official and only lasted a short period of time. Members of the student-run UT Athletic Association wanted a more "masculine" color, and in 1895 orange was paired with white once more.

Unfortunately , White uniforms were difficult to clean after a hard-fought victory on the football field so in 1897, to save cleaning costs, the Athletic Association opted for maroon color that wouldn't show dirt as easily.

For the next three years, UT football, baseball, and track uniforms, along with letter sweaters, were orange and maroon. This created more than a little controversy, especially among the alumni. Adding to the confusion was the Cactus Yearbook, at the time published by the Athletic Association, which listed the University colors as either gold or orange and white. The appearance of the 1899 Cactus made matters worse. It suddenly declared the University colors to be "Gold and Maroon," which just happened to be the same hues used for the yearbook's cover. And all the while, students at the University's medical branch in Galveston wanted to throw out the double-colors in favor of a single one: royal blue. Attending a football game in 1899, a UT fan would have found his compatriots sporting all shades of yellows, oranges, whites, reds, maroons, and a few in blue.

In 1900 after considerable discussion, the Board of Regents decided to hold an election to settle the matter. Students, faculty, staff and alumni were all invited to send in their ballots. Out of the 1,111 votes cast, 562 were for orange and white, a majority by just seven votes. Orange and maroon receive 310, royal blue 203, crimson 10, royal blue and crimson 11, and few other colors scattered among the remaining 15 votes.

Cactus Image of the U.T. colors in the 1900's

Cactus Image of the U.T. colors in the 1900's

1910 - brighter orange

Unfortunately, the first  bright orange dyes faded when washed and turned yellow which resulted in the Longhorn opponents calling the Longhorns "yellow bellies".  

In 1925 Coach Doc Stewart changed the team colors back to burnt orange and white,

During WWII Horns are forced to revert back to the bright orange because the dye needed for burnt orange is made in Germany.

In 1967 Royal's goal was to brand the Longhorns for T.V.  Intuitively Royal knew that color stimulates emotions.  Years later Royal's intuition was confirmed scientifically.  The  unique burnt orange color chosen for the Longhorn uniforms was deemed to elicit aggression, enthusiasm, and courage.   Royal also noted correctly that there were already numerous Universities using a brighter orange as their team color so he chose not to be another "orange" team.  He also noted that uniforms emblazoned with primary colors dominated University sports teams so he rejected primary colors for the Longhorn uniforms. He wanted an original nuance color that no one else could duplicate and Burnt Orange was the answer. The USA Today even stated that the burnt orange and white was one of the two best color combinations in sports. 


Uniforms and Helmets thru the years

The first helmet was thick hair.

Top left - 1900 “Boston style padded head harness.”

Top Center- 1910_ “The flat top”

Top Right- 1918- designed after WWI the helmet was inspired by the protective headgear for the pilots flying the newest technology - planes. This is the grandfather to all future helmets.

Bottom Left- 1925- This helmet had padding inside to cushion the blow.

Bottom left center- 1932- made of leather with the first chin strap

Bottom right center- Post war break thru in helmets. Plastic replaces leather . Protective features enhanced the structure of this helmet.

Lower right- 1960’s - The helmet has a face guard, shock absorbers that protect the top, botton, side , and back of helmet.

Once Royal was asked if he would add any more ornamentation to the uniforms.  He responded " Hell no I'm not going to candy this thing up. These are work clothes."  

The Bumpy Road to A Longhorn as the UT Mascot.

1903 D.A. Frank refers to the sports teams as "Longhorns" for the first time. However, that name was only one of 4 names used which also included "Steers", "Varsity", and "State". 

Longhorn colors and logo.jpg

Choosing the "correct" Longhorn logo and the "correct" color for the Longhorn Nation took 75 years!!!

In 1904 someone suggest that UT's mascot be a Longhorn.  It would take years before this would come to fruition.

In 1913 Lutcher Stark gave the football team blankets that had a Longhorn in 3/4 angle.

1913 The Longhorn Logo becomes a contender for The University of Texas Logo

But there is still competition from other Logo designers.  In the early 1900's the Longhorn logo is a star, a star with the "T" in the middle, and a star with each arm containing one letter of the word "Texas" . There is even one attempt in basketball to change from the star to a big "T" with a small "B" on both Sides.


Ragan Gennusa is well known for his Texas Longhorn paintings and has owned longhorn cattle since 1984. Because of their historical contribution to the state of Texas, Ragan has chosen to honor this incredible animal, which not only embodies the character and spirit of the University of Texas Football Team, but also the people of the state of Texas, in much of his work. 

Today, Ragan resides in the hill country outside of Dripping Springs, Texas in a house he built, and paints mainly by commission in a studio filled with a sense of the West.

Cattle originally from Spain and Portugal were introduced into Mexico in 1521. Stocked at the Presidios in northern Mexico and southern Texas by the Mexican government, these cattle ran wild between the Rio Grande and the Nueces rivers and north and east to the Louisiana border, after constant Comanche Indian raids forced their abandonment. Not only did they survive the adversity of predation, drought disease and the dreaded tick fever, but they flourished. For two or three CENTURIES these incredible wild cattle existed in a closed gene pool emerging as a unique breed, the Texas longhorn.

Longhorn cows exhibited not only the traits mentioned above, but were extremely fertile, calving without problems well into their late teens, enabling the breed to multiply by the millions. It is estimated that between 1866 and 1890 ten million cattle were driven to northern markets, not only pulling the state of Texas out of bankruptcy, but creating wealthy cattle barons and establishing Texas as a rich state.  

History of Texas Mascot Chronologically

1916- Bevo I Is Too MEAN! He Last Thru Half Time Of The Aggie Game Before Being Sent To A Ranch For 4 Years, But He Is Too Expensive To Maintain So In 1920 He Is "Invited" To Dinner For Some UT Football Players And Aggie Dignitaries. Rumor Has The Meat Was Tough.

1917-1935 Texas Uses Young Boys As The Mascot In The Late 1920'S.  


  • 1936- Bevo II Is No Better Than Bevo I. He Only Makes 4 Appearances Before The UT Administration Decides He Is Too Dangerous So He Is Sent Home To The Diamond T Ranch To Live A Full Life.

  • 1937-1944 Texas Has No Mascot

  • 1945-1948- Bevo III Was Better But In 1948 He Charges A Photographer In Addition To Some  Other Indiscretions And Is Returned To The San Antonio Zoo.

  • 1949- Bevo IV Is The Meanest Bevo Of All . After Ramming A Car He Is  Returned To Fort Griffin State Historic Site. 

  • 1950-1955- Bevo V Is Raised From Calfhood By The Silver Spurs And This Strategy Works. He Is The First Bevo To Travel To Away Games. 

  • 1955-1957- Bevo VI Charges The Rice Bench And Is "Released" From His Responsibilities. 

  • 1957-1965- Bevo VII Reigns During The Start Of The Royal Era And Is The Most Docile Bevo To This Date In History.  He Is Kidnapped In 1963  And The Texas Rangers Are Used In The Search For Bevo VII.  He Is Found In Bryan Texas At An Aggie Veterinary Clinic Undergoing A Thorough Exam.  Bevo VII Is Responsible For The First "Official" Texas Longhorns National Championship.  

  • 1965- Bevo VIII Was Too Fiesty And Released From His Duties And Responsibilities. 

  • 1966-1976- Bevo IX Is Great  The Only Thing That Upsets Him Is Women. He Is Kidnapped Two Times In 1972 Once By The Rice Owls And Once By The Aggies.  He Is Responsible For Two National Championship Teams. 

  • 1976-1980 - Bevo X Hated The Smell Of Perfume And The Color Red. 

  • 1981 - Bevo XI is  selected as an interim Bevo while a new Bevo is trained. 

  • 1982-1988 - Bevo XII is unpredictable and is never the same after his trailer flips on MoPac.

  • 1988-2004- Bevo XIII is called the "Gentleman Bevo" by the Daily Texan and is the first Bevo that does charity work for sick kids and attends George Bush inaugural ball in 2001.  He is most famous for relieving himself on the Nebrasksa Cornhuskers logo in the Big 12 title game. 

  • 2004-2015 - Bevo XIV has the longest reign of all the Bevo's. He is a gentle spirit and affectionate. He is  even  polite to the Aggie mascot during "Reveille's"  visit to Bevo's  home. Bevo XIV even rolls  on his side for tummy rubs when his owner Betty Baker enters his stall. 

  • Picture below is in the September edition of the Alcalde magazine is below.

  • In September 2016 the Alcalde wrote an article on the history of Bevo. Please see the link below for more information on Bevo. .

In 1922 the UT band added a Longhorn depiction on the bass drum 

1922 UT Band uses Longhorn Logo


and the Women's Athletic Association adopted the Longhorn Logo for their letter sweaters and Letter blankets with the Horns up.





Longhorn logo 4.jpg

1924 Baseball Logo - The image with the horns down was inspired by the Longhorn photo to the right.



For part of the 1920's the track team adopts a slanted "Texas" on their uniforms.  The "T" on the uniforms stood for Captain of the team but no mention or depiction of Bevo.

However Lutcher Stark believed that the Longhorn was the UT mascot of the future and in  1920 he donated a plaque with a Longhorn in relief to honor UT alumni who died fighting in WWI

WWI Memorial Plaque with Longhorn at top in circle

In 1924 Memorial Stadium adopts the Longhorns with horns up.

By 1924 many UT related institutions had accepted the Longhorn as the UT Logo, but artist continued to struggle with the shape and form of the "horns". Renditions included horns up, horns down, horns level, horns short, and horns long.


1925 Tennis Team is really confused on the Texas Brand . In fact, Tennis Coach Penick still refers to Texas as “THE VARSITY”.


1927 - UT stationary

1928 Letter sweater

In the 30's  the football team wore" designer" jersey's with no mascot.

In 1936  the Texas Tennis team embraced Bevo on their uniforms with flat horns. 

In 1939 the swim team incorporates the Bevo Logo on the swim suits and maintains the "flat" horn logo.


1941 Longhorn.jpg


In 1941 a new horn depiction receives some notoriety.   


Alcalde says "aside from brief use by the tennis and swim teams, Longhorn logos were not found on all  UT sports uniforms until 1961", but some Horn sports teams in the 50's used the Longhorn logo on their warm-ups.   


In 1952  the NCAA decided to allow a few games on National T.V.  The NCAA was concerned that television coverage would reduce the attendance at games.  So the NCAA allowed one National game a week for 8 weeks during the season and regional games the other two weeks.

Royal was a marketing genius!  Before branding was a marketing term, Royal knew he needed to enhance the Longhorn image on T.v. Branding is everything when it comes to Sports, and Royal made his point by saying "There are 29 peaks in Colorado taller than Pikes Peak,- name one".  His point was that even if the Longhorns were 29th in the nation, he wanted the Longhorn brand to supersede the brand recognition of the other 28 teams. Royal wanted the Longhorns to be the Pikes Peak of football. T.V. offered him that venue. By 1965 all prime time games were in color and the TV viewers exploded.  Royal built the Horns for this new medium.  Since there were only 3 networks and severely restricted games  fans were lucky if they got two games a week in their market.   Building a national reputation was simpler then.  On T.V. during this period Texas won 88% of their games and looked good doing it.   From 1961 thru 1971 Texas was 16-5 on national contest. 

To further enhance the Longhorn brand, In 1961 Coach  Royal asked Rooster Andrews to create a Longhorn sticker. One of Roosters images depicted a Longhorn head and Royal knew that was the logo he wanted for the Longhorn helmet.  Rooster's image  would become the most iconic symbol of any University.  It was the perfect Icon for branding the Horns on National television. Coach Royal's marketing acumen and his understanding that in branding "less is more" started a marketing bonanza for UT that as of 2017 ranks UT as the number 1 brand in royalties from licensed product.   

Alcalde points out The "sticker"  was not complicated by a message that confused football fans with comic imagery. "the specific design of the logo ... makes it so symbolically effective ..... clean and striking... without the anatomical details such as eyes and nostrils.... It communicates the strength of the longhorn without appearing ponderous... the logo is concise , memorable, and  unmistakable. The simple, clear, pure, distinct, definite, and uncomplicated image of the burnt orange Longhorn in relief on the white helmet was  immediately identifiable.  The Alcalde goes on to say that "Royal's genius was in placing the logo in what was to become , as television coverage of college football grew, the prime piece of real estate in college athletics: the side of the football helmet". 


In order to make the logo even more prominent, in 1967 Royal moves the players number to the back of the helmet.

1969- 100th Anniversary of College Football and the Longhorn National Championship helmet

It still takes another 15 years before the university totally accepts  Rooster Andrews logo. Even in 1963 and 1964 there were other Longhorn renditions , and there were other attempts to stylize the logo but eventually the DKR and Rooster Andrews logo is accepted.   After 75 plus years of the UT administration, artist, fans struggling to capture the "right" logo to represent our great university the process is finally completed.  

History will show that the other contenders included the following: 

  • Interlocking UT,

  • Only a star

  • T-in-a Star,

  • A star spelling out Texas,

  • A big "T" with small b's on both sides

  • Slanted "Texas" (basketball)

  • Straight up and down "Texas" (baseball)

  • "T" in a circle,

  • Anatomically correct Longhorn,

  • Young Boys

  • Big ear Longhorn,

  • Long horns,

  • Short horns,

  • Horns down,

  • Horns level,

  • Horns up,

  • Comical Horns,

  • Mean horns,

  • Happy horns,

  • Stylized horns,

  • Cartoon Bevo both happy and angry

  • Three dimensional image of a Longhorns upper torso

  • Designer uniforms

  • One horn up and one horn down - Basketball 1950's

  • 12” band around the chest of the player

  • Blocked “T”


Bevo continues to evolve thru the eyes of the fans.  Below is Bevo created by Ken Law from knives, forks, and spoons, and a Christmas Bevo by the Zimmerman family


Horn Uniforms and helmets thru the years

Mark Walters states that it's  been reported that the University of Texas is looking for more immediate answers in designing a safer football helmet. UT is working with equipment company Riddell to evaluate head trauma during collisions at practice. During practices, when contact happens, data is sent to handheld devices being monitored by the training staff. The staffers say if the hit is hard enough, it will generate a signal on the device. However, if the hit was on the side of the helmet but the magnitude of the hit wasn't as high, no data would be registered. Equipment research and design is a never-ending process to keep up with the ever increasing stronger, faster, more powerful athlete , and the University of Texas is a leader in advancing the future of helmet sports science.