SMU Mustangs football
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2013)|
|Athletic director||Rick Hart|
|Head coach||June Jones
4th year, 29–33 (.468)
|Home stadium||Gerald J. Ford Stadium|
|League||Division I, FBS|
|All-time record||439–477–54 (.480)|
|Postseason bowl record||7–7–1|
|Claimed national titles||3|
Red and Blue
The SMU Mustangs football program is a college football team that represents Southern Methodist University (more commonly "SMU"). The team competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) as a member the American Athletic Conference (The American).
- 1 History
- 2 Achievements
- 3 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees
- 4 Current NFL players
- 5 Current CFL players
- 6 Current AFL players
- 7 Bowl appearances
- 8 Head coaches
- 9 Future non-conference opponents
- 10 Rivalries
- 11 Home fields
- 12 References
- 13 External links
1976–86: A Winning Record
Coach Ron Meyer came to SMU in 1976 after his success as an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s (including a Super Bowl win) and a stint with UNLV. Coach Meyer was infamous for his recruiting tactics, including visits each year to the homes of an unprecedented 70 or more of the top recruits per year. His most notable recruits were future NFL running backs Eric Dickerson and Craig James before the 1979 season, as both their high school teams went 15-0 and won state championships. Combined with blue chip runningback Charles Waggoner, the three backs were nicknamed the "Pony Express" running attack and shredded opposing defenses in the option offense led by quarterback Lance McIlhenny. This team claimed a share of the 1981 college football Division 1-A national championship, based on the determination of the National Championship Foundation.
Coach Meyer left to become the head coach of the New England Patriots in 1982, and SMU hired Coach Bobby Collins, then head coach at University of Southern Mississippi. Dickerson finished 3rd in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1982, and the team claimed a share of its second consecutive national championship, based on the determination of the Helms Athletic Foundation.
SMU posted a 49–9–1 record from 1980–1984, which was the highest win percentage (.839) in Division 1-A over that span.
1987–2007: "Death Penalty" and decades of rebuilding
In 1987, SMU football became the first, and currently only, football program in collegiate athletic history to receive the "death penalty" for repeat violation of NCAA rules, that is, having a sports program fully terminated for a determined amount of time. SMU's football program was terminated for the 1987 season because the University was making approximately $61,000 in booster payments from 1985 to 1986. It later emerged that a slush fund had been used to pay players as early as the mid-1970s, and athletic officials had known about it as early as 1981.
SMU was eligible for the "death penalty" because it had been placed on probation in 1985 for recruiting violations. Since many potential student-athletes were poor, boosters would induce them to sign with SMU by offering them payments and expense coverage. Several key boosters and administration officials determined that it would not only be unethical to cut off those payments, but also potentially problematic as some boosters were contractually obligated to pay the athletes for the duration of their time at SMU. There was also the real potential of disgruntled football players "blowing the whistle" on SMU should the payments not continue. When the sanctions were handed down, SMU had three players - all seniors about to graduate - receiving payments. Not long afterward, SMU announced that its football team would stay shuttered for the 1988 season as well after school officials received indications that they wouldn't have enough experienced players to field a viable team as most of the team left the university and transferred to other institutions. Forrest Gregg, an SMU alum who was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, was hired in 1988 to help rebuild the team. The decimation of the program meant that Gregg was left with an undersized and underweight lineup; he was taller and heavier than virtually all of his players.
The Mustangs struggled for 20 years to recover from the effects of the scandal. Coach Gregg compiled a 3–19 record in his two seasons. He moved on to be the SMU Athletic Director from 1990 through 1994.
The Mustangs had 3 more head coaches and only one winning season through the completion of the 2007 season.
2008–present: Return to Success
In 2008 SMU hired Steve Orsini away from the University of Central Florida (UCF) to be the SMU Athletic Director. Orsini then hired June Jones from the University of Hawai'i to be the team's new head coach at SMU and currently the 5th coach in the post death penalty time since 1989. In Jones' first season at SMU the team had a 1-11 record. In 2009, Coach Jones' second season at SMU, the Mustangs had a turnaround season, compiling an improved regular season record of 7-5. Although finishing unranked in the 2009 NCAA Division I FBS football rankings, SMU was invited to its first bowl game in 25 years, defeating the unranked Nevada Wolf Pack with a final score 45-10 in the 2009 Hawai'i Bowl, the team's first bowl win since 1984.
In 2010, the Mustangs again compiled a regular season record of 7-5, with a 6-2 in-conference record to earn their first chance at winning a conference title in 26 years, securing a berth in the Conference USA Championship game. SMU lost the conference title game, 17-7, against UCF. Once again unranked in the 2010 NCAA Division I FBS football rankings, SMU was invited to its second consecutive bowl game, the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl, where it lost against the unranked Army Black Knights.
Following Texas A&M's move to the SEC in August and September 2011, SMU have made it known that they would like to replace them in the Big 12. On September 3, 2011, Athletic Director Steve Orsini stated: "We want stability in the regional conference that meets our objective," Orsini said, "and that right now would be defined as the Big 12."
"Regionalism is a sign of strength, and we feel expansion, especially in the latest trends, is a sign of strength," Orsini said. "And we feel we can help an AQ conference in both of those areas." Orsini made it clear that SMU isn't solely interested in the Big 12, but in finding an AQ home. Should the Mustangs' current league, Conference USA, achieve AQ status someday, that would work just fine. Maybe the Mountain West earns an AQ distinction and decides to dip back into the Metroplex again.
"When we were affiliated with those schools in this region [Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech], we were competing very successfully," Orsini reminded. "We have a lot of conference championships in the Southwest Conference to show for it". "We're ready. It took us a long time to rebound from the historic low that hit here, but that was 25 years ago. There are no signs of that anymore."
SMU's interest in the Big 12 was never reciprocated, and the Big 12 instead added TCU and West Virginia University.
Move to The American
SMU moved to the American Athletic Conference in 2013 along with Houston, Memphis, and UCF for all sports.
The NCAA's website states that "the NCAA does not conduct a national championship in Division I-A football and is not involved in the selection process." It goes on to say that "a number of polling organizations provide a final ranking of Division I-A football teams at the end of each season." SMU officially claims three national championships (1935, 1981 & 1982). (The NCAA officially changed the "I-A" designation to the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in 2006.)
† Co-Divisional Champion with the Houston Cougars
‡ Co-Divisional Champion with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane
College Football Hall of Fame Inductees
Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees
Current NFL players
Current CFL players
Current AFL players
Future non-conference opponents
SMU has released a partial list of non-conference opponents for the near future:
The SMU-TCU rivalry is the most intense one for both SMU and TCU. The respective campuses are located 40 miles apart in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. TCU leads the all-time series 46–40–7. The SMU-TCU rivalries goes for all sports as well as recruiting students from the DFW area as SMU and TCU are the two top schools in the region in academics and sports.
The teams have played all but six years since their first meeting in 1915. They did not face each other in 1919, 1920, 1925, 1987, 1988, or 2006. Although no longer in the same conference, SMU and TCU agreed to play each season through 2017 on an alternating home-and-away basis.
TCU and SMU fans began the tradition back in 1946. During pre-game festivities, an SMU fan was frying frog legs as a joke before the game. A TCU fan, seeing this desecration of the "frog", went over and told him that eating the frog legs was going well beyond the rivalry and that they should let the game decide who would get the skillet and the frog legs. TCU won the game, and the skillet and frog legs went to TCU. The tradition eventually spilled over into the actual game and the Iron Skillet is now passed to the winner.
The SMU-Rice rivalry is a secondary one for both SMU (after TCU) and Rice (after Houston). However, it is a storied one based on the fact that SMU is located inside the city of Dallas and Rice is located in Houston, the anchors of Texas' two largest metropolitan areas. Notably, SMU and Rice are two of the smallest universities in NCAA Division I FBS. Adding full to the fire is the fact that Rice and SMU consistently rank as the best two private universities in Texas.
In 1918 both schools joined the Southwest Conference, and from 1926 they played every year except for 1987 and 1988, after the NCAA game SMU's football program the "death penalty" following a cheating scandal. They played in the same conference until 2013, beginning with the Southwest (1918–1996), then the Western Athletic Conference (1996–2005) and Conference USA (2005–2012). In that time they had met 90 times, with SMU leading 48–41–1.
In 1998 a traveling trophy, the "Mayor's Cup", was introduced to the series, and has been awarded to the winner each year. The Rice Owls currently hold the trophy after the 2012 game and lead the trophy series 9-6. However, the future of the trophy is unclear, as SMU left Conference USA for The American for the 2013 season, and no future games are scheduled.
SMU and Navy have played each other 16 times with Navy leading the series 9-7. In 2009, the athletic departments of the United States Naval Academy and Southern Methodist University created the Gansz Trophy in honor of Frank Gansz who played linebacker at the Naval Academy from 1957 through 1959 and eventually the coaching staff at SMU.
Navy is set to join the Big East Conference in 2015 which will allow for this game to become a regular conference game.
SMU and North Texas share the DFW Metroplex as their home. The two teams have played 33 times dating back to 1922. The most recent meetings between the two teams occurred in 2007, when the Mustangs defeated the Mean Green 45–31. SMU leads the all-time series 28-4-1. After SMU jumped to The American, North Texas was invited to take its place in Conference USA.
The game is often referred to as the Safeway Bowl which derives its name from a challenge from then North Texas head coach Matt Simon issued in 1994 after a two-year break in the series, stating "I'd like to play because I think we could beat them, and my players feel the same way. If they'd like to play on a Safeway parking lot ... just give us a date and time."
SMU and North Texas will play each other every year from 2014 and 2025 for a scheduled twelve game series.
All-time Records versus Rivals