When I first stepped foot on SMU’s campus, I immediately fell in love. Sure, there were many beautiful coeds walking around, but the first thing I saw, my lasting memory, was driving up Bishop Boulevard (now known as just The Boulevard). I saw the beautiful buildings, the majestic trees and then the appearance of the fountain with Dallas Hall in the distance. I knew then, this was where I was going to spend the next several years of my life (five and a half, as it turned out).
I grew up in College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M. College Station is so centered around A&M that you learn to embrace and love everything Aggieland has to offer from a young age, or reject it as hard as you can. (I’m typing this blog wearing one of our new Texas Longhorn State t-shirts, so you can see which direction I chose) College Station is so centered around A&M, that it was tough to get any real information about any other school unless the Aggies were playing them that week (this was pre-internet, kids). All I knew about SMU is that they had a terrible football team and at some point they had been caught cheating and had that football team taken away from them for a while. Literally that was it. I thought the trip was a waste of time since my heart had already turned burnt orange. I’m glad I changed my mind.
My freshman year we played football on campus in Ownby Stadium in the Southwest Conference (yes, I’m old). Our team didn’t win much, but we were exciting. We had a home game against a top 25 North Carolina team (coached by Mack Brown) and lost by less than a touchdown. We played a road game against a top 10 UCLA team and lost by less than a touchdown. We played Texas A&M in the Alamodome…probably my fondest SMU sports memory. A&M was on probation and ineligible to play in the post season or win the SWC, but they were good and we were not. But, we tied that Aggie team for their only blemish of the season (ten wins, no losses, one tie). We ended the season with one win, nine losses and one tie. It was a great ride back to Dallas.
After that season we suffered though several sub par seasons playing games in the Cotton Bowl in the Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA. We also cycled through several head coaches…Tom Rossley (who went on to have success with the Green Bay Packers), Phil Bennett (who went on to have success with Baylor), Mike Cavan (who had a really hot daughter). There were moments where it seemed we were turning the corner, but they were few and far between. We were crushing a Tulane team that would go undefeated, but they had a huge second half comeback. We beat Arkansas twice in three years. We were one win away from a possible Independence Bowl berth, but Dennis Franchione and LaDainian Tomlinson had something to say about that in Fort Worth. The moments were there, but the consistency wasn’t.
Finally we brought football back on campus with Ford Field, our new stadium. Later we hired June Jones, one of a small handful of coaches to bring a non BCS team to a BCS bowl. Those two events brought excitement back to the Hilltop. These days, SMU is looking for our fourth straight bowl game and a Conference USA championship before we move to the Big East next year. Our opponent this week, the Aggies of Texas A&M, also have some things to be excited about. They are in their first season in the South Eastern Conference. They have a new head coach. And they have an exciting freshman quarterback known around College Station as Johnny Effing Football. They also will be looking for redemption after blowing a double digit lead (a recent Aggie habit, a tradition perhaps?) against Florida last week. These former SWC members face off at 2:30 Saturday in my Game of the Week.
Other Games I’ll Be Watching:
The University of Texas at Ole Miss – Because I don’t have the Longhorn Network, this will be the first UT game I can watch (I’m kidding, but not really)
Alabama at Arkansas – Many pundits predicted in the preseason an Arkansas win. Well, Alabama is ranked number one in the country and Arkansas lost last week to Lousiana-Monroe so…
USC at Stanford – Can small, private, intellectual Stanford stay successful after losing four high NFL draft choices? Can USC regain the number one ranking they had preseason?
Utah State at Wisconsin, U of Lousiana-Lafayette at Oklahoma State – Wisconsin and Oklahoma State both suffered embarrassing losses last week. They are both looking to rebound.
Notre Dame at Michigan State – I like Notre Dame and I respect Notre Dame. I do. I promise. But there are some teams out there…it’s just fun when they lose. I think this Notre Dame squad might be one of those teams.
* All of the above opinions are from Dustin. He’s just one guy. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Gameday Cloth. So, take it out on him, okay?