Books Matter: Grant Teaff

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here

By Jake Pittman

Grant Teaff was the head football coach at Baylor University for 21 years, but early in his career Teaff looked to a book to help him become a more well-rounded coach.

In 1957, Teaff had just graduated college and knew that he wanted to be a head football coach in the Southwest Conference, but he had to get started somewhere. Teaff first got the job as the offensive and defensive line coach for his alma mater McMurry College in Abilene, Texas. But when he showed up for his first day on the job there was an unexpected turn.

“The next thing that happens to me while I’m the assistant football coach, the athletic director calls me and said, ‘Oh by the way,’ you are also going to be the head track coach,” Teaff said. “Now the only thing I knew about track was that you turn left and hurry back.”
McMurry had very few track scholarships and didn’t have a lot of money to fund the program. So, Teaff had to find something to help him turn the program around, while having no experience in the sport and also trying to keep climbing his way up as a football coach.

“I didn’t know much of anything about track, so I contacted the track coach at Baylor, Coach [Jack] Patterson, which gave me my first connection at Baylor. [He] later hired me as the head football coach there,” Teaff said.  “And while I was talking to Coach, I was introduced to a book called Championship Track and Field.”

Championship Track and Field was written by 12 track and field coaches who all excelled at a certain event. Teaff said he studied this book intently and implemented the teachings into his own coaching.

“Many of these coaches I had interviewed personally, while others I had been introduced to by this book,” Teaff said.

Teaff said that the teachings in this book helped him excel to become the Hall of Fame football coach that he worked to be.

“I taught my football players how to run and how to jump correctly using the teachings of this book, and it always proved successful,” Teaff said. “I truly believe that it is one of the reasons we were able to become so successful, so quickly at Baylor.”

Teaff said he has talked a lot about the books and people who have influenced his life and philosophy including Tom Landry, Darrell Royal and R. C. Slocum, but this book is special to him because of the tools that it gave him when he needed them most.

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