The sports mascot at the University of Texas is named Bevo, a longhorn steer that first appeared in 1916. He is the reason for the school’s battle cry of “hook 'em horns.”
The same steer hasn’t been the mascot forever, of course. Bevo XV made his public debut at the beginning of the Notre Dame game on September 4, 2016. Fans noted with some chagrin that the horns on the longhorn were much shorter than those on previous Bevos. When the 1,100-pound steer began his reign as the mascot, though, he was only 19 months old. He still has plenty of time to grow more impressive horns.
New Bevo’s Aggressive Personality
Before the Sugar Bowl in January 2019, what was intended as a lighthearted meet-up of mascots almost turned tragic. University of Georgia’s mascot, an actual bulldog named Uga, was in the process of walking up to Bevo’s pen when the longhorn steer crashed through the gate and almost gored the dog and its caretakers. The handlers were trying to set up a photo of the two mascots, but Bevo decided not to cooperate. The 60-pound bulldog was clearly no match for the 1,600-pound steer. Bevo’s handlers indicated that the steer is normally very docile, and didn’t think anyone was actually in danger.
Ultimately, they were able to calm Bevo down and take a photo with Uga.
Earlier Bevos have also caused an occasional ruckus. Bevo II charged an SMU cheerleader, and Bevo III managed to get out of his enclosure and was on the lam for two days. Bevo IV seemed to have a grudge against parked cars, and Bevo often became aggressive whenever it was near the Baylor Band.
History and Traditions
Since 1945, Bevo has been brought to each UT football game by the Silver Spurs, an honorary spirit and service group consisting of male University of Texas students. Bevo also attends major pep rallies and some events, such as after-graduation ceremonies. The first few Bevos were aggressive; some charged people and broke loose. However, more recent incarnations of Bevo have been bred to be calmer and tend to be docile as they sit or stand on the sidelines at University of Texas football games.
Some of the early Bevos weren’t even longhorns. The mascot from 1935 to 1939 was a small Hereford-Brahman steer. He had no horns and appears downright scrawny in historical photos compared to the modern-day mascot.
Before Bevo, the University of Texas’ mascot was Pig, a pit bull. Stephen Pinckney, a former UT student, came up with the idea of having a longhorn as the mascot. He gathered money from other alumni, bought a steer, named him Bo, and shipped him to Austin.
Name's Mysterious Origins
Bo’s first public appearance was at the annual Thanksgiving football game between the University of Texas and Texas A&M University in 1916. Ben Dyer, who was the editor of UT’s magazine, The Alcalde, named the steer Bevo after the game, though no one is certain why.
There is one major legend as to how Bevo acquired his name. In 1915, Texas A&M beat UT in a football game, 13 to zero. The next year, the Texas Longhorns beat A&M. After the game, A&M students pulled a prank by branding the score of their 13-0 win in 1915 onto the steer. That part is true.
The part of the story that was later proven to be untrue goes as follows: In order to prevent embarrassment, UT students re-branded the longhorn by changing the numbers into the word BEVO, thus renaming the mascot. There is no evidence of this, and according to the time frame, this would have happened after Dyer had already called him Bevo. Not long afterward, Bevo became too expensive for the University of Texas to maintain, so he was fattened up, slaughtered and eaten at a 1920 football banquet.
The A&M team was served the side of the steer they branded and given the hide, which still had the branding of 13-0 on it. Bevo reappeared again later on as the official mascot and has remained the beloved symbol of UT sports ever since.