Grant Teaff, former coach for the Baylor Bears football team, shakes some hands while autographing merchandise Monday afternoon. Teaff spoke on the importance of faith and self-confidence in achieving goals.

A coach known for turning around a college football franchise spoke to a full house Monday about turning around lives.

Grant Teaff (pronounced “Taff”), a former coach for Baylor University in Waco and McMurry University in Abilene, spoke at the Men’s Power Lunch at First Baptist Church’s activities building.

Teaff, who has authored the book “Master Coaches” and served for many years as head of the American Football Coaches Association. said setting goals and following through with them is the secret to success. But with that, he said, a person has to have faith in not only God but himself/herself.

Teaff said coaching was his goal since age 13, and his peers recognized that desire. He said in his high school yearbook he was named “Most likely to be head coach at UT.”

“Well, they only missed it by about 110 miles,” he said of the rough distance between Baylor and the University of Texas at Austin.

Teaff, 74, said some may find it foolish to set goals at an early age, but he said it shaped his career. Teaff played high school football at Synder High School and collegiately at McMurry University — where he later coached from 1960-65. He later coached briefly at Texas Tech and later for Angelo State until 1971.

In 1972, Teaff was hired to resurrect the moribund football team at Baylor — the day after the university’s first choice for the job quit after one day.

Baylor was 7-43-1 in the five seasons preceding Teaff’s arrival, but by 1974 he led Baylor into winning eight games and took the Southwest Conference Championship for the first time since 1924.

He coached at Baylor until 1992, and led the team into winning the Southwest Conference title again in 1980, the 1979 Peach Bowl, the 1985 Liberty Bowl, the 1986 Bluebonnet Bowl and the 1992 John Hancock Bowl (later the Sun Bowl). The team earned invitations to the 1975 and 1981 Cotton Bowls, as well as the 1983 Bluebonnet Bowl and the 1991 Copper Bowl.

Teaff was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

On a few occassions Teaff led the Bears to defeat the University of Texas Longhorns. Prior to a 38-14 upset win over Texas in 1978, Teaff ate a live worm in the locker room prior to the game as a motivational tactic — or so the campus legend goes.

It was not the only time he used a worm as a visual aid, he said Monday.

In teaching his Baylor players about the effects of alcohol on the body, he took two earthworms — placing one in a glass of water and another in a glass with beer in it. The earthworm in the glass of water made its way out in time and suffered no effects. The earthworm exposed to the beer shriveled up and died, Teaff said.

“So I said to them, ‘Now fellas, I want you to think for a minute about what I just done,’” Teaff said.

He said one of the student athletes answered and misinterpreted Teaff — thinking his coach meant that if one drinks beer he won’t get worms.

Teaff said taking care of one’s body is important, but that there are three dimensions of the whole body to be considered — mental, physical and spiritual.

Though staying away from drugs and alcohol and frequent exercise helps with the physical aspect, the mental aspect is taken care of by being optimistic, he said.

“In order to be successful in life you have to have a positive attitude,” Teaff said.

He urged those present to surround themselves with “positive influences.” Earlier in his speech he said today’s youth are increasingly without role models.

“We live in a society today where 60 percent of children do not have a positive, strong male role model,” he said.

The spiritual aspect of success is achieved by belief, he said.

“Nothing can be accomplished unless you believe,” Teaff noted.

Though not specifically mentioning Jesus Christ, Teaff said belief allows trust in other people, and that trust leads to a belief in the self. This in turn allows the self to believe in God.

That faith in God, Teaff said in an April 16, 2001, article in the Baptist Standard, “gives you personal confidence, faith in yourself and the ability to develop faith in others.”

“You can’t be a coach unless you can put your trust in somebody,” he said in the article. “You have to put your faith in a skinny-legged quarterback to execute the plans you’ve made. And often, in putting your faith in that skinny-legged quarterback, you've done something for him. You’ve shown you believe in him and told him he can go out there and make it happen.”

Teaff added in his speech Monday that man has the free will to reject or accept God.

“The spiritual aspect of man is essential as the food we put in our bodies,” Teaff said in his speech.

He said this life goes by quickly, and goals must be set equally quick if one wants “to play on the great team of humanity.”

Following his speech Teaff autographed footballs, hats and other objects for admirers in the foyer of the activities building.

Mark Denison, pastor of First Baptist Church, said the next Power Lunch is scheduled for Oct. 1 and will feature Robert Ashley, an atheist-turned-evangelist.

For information on the program call 665-4347.

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