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SMU Mustangs football


SMU Mustangs football

SMU Mustangs
2014 SMU Mustangs football team
First season 1915
Athletic director Rick Hart
Head coach Chad Morris
1st year, 0–0 (–)
Home stadium Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Year built 1999
Stadium capacity 32,000
Stadium surface FieldTurf
Location Dallas, Texas
League Division I, FBS
Conference The American
All-time record 439–477–54 (.480)
Postseason bowl record 7–7–1 (.500)
Claimed national titles 3
Conference titles 11
Heisman winners 1
Consensus All-Americans 16
Current uniform

Red and Blue

Mascot Peruna

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).


  • History 1
    • 1976–86: A Winning Record 1.1
    • 1987–2007: "Death Penalty" and decades of rebuilding 1.2
    • 2008–present 1.3
    • Move to The American 1.4
  • Achievements 2
    • National championships 2.1
    • Divisional championships 2.2
    • Individual achievements 2.3
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees 3
  • Current NFL players 4
  • Current CFL players 5
  • Current AFL players 6
  • Bowl appearances 7
  • Head coaches 8
  • Future non-conference opponents 9
  • Rivalries 10
    • TCU 10.1
    • Rice 10.2
    • Navy 10.3
    • North Texas 10.4
    • All-time Records versus Rivals 10.5
  • Home fields 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


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. However, the claimed championship is not recognized by most college football observers while Clemson, who finished #1 in both the AP and coaches' polls that season, is regarded as the consensus champion that season.[1]

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. However, the claimed championship is not recognized by most college football observers while Penn State, who finished #1 in both the AP and coaches' polls that season, is regarded as the consensus champion that season.[2]

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[3] 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.


SMU in action versus UTEP in 2009

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."[4]

SMU's interest in the Big 12 was never reciprocated, and the Big 12 instead added TCU and West Virginia University.

SMU went on to win back-to-back bowl games in the 2012 BBVA Compass Bowl (for the 2011 season) and 2012 Hawaii Bowl.

Move to The American

SMU moved to the American Athletic Conference in 2013 along with Houston, Memphis, and UCF for all sports.


National championships

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.) Nonetheless, neither the 1981 or 1982 claims are recognized by most observers, as the AP and Coaches poll winners are widely regarded as the national champion in college football circles.[5] SMU's claims in 1981 and 1982 are based on poll championships awarded by lesser known and/or obscure polling/ranking systems.

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl Result
1935 Matty Bell Dickinson, Houlgate System, and Sagarin Ratings 12-1 Rose Bowl SMU 0, Stanford 7
1981 Ron Meyer National Championship Foundation 10-1 -- --
1982 Bobby Collins Helms Athletic Foundation 11-0-1 Cotton Bowl Classic SMU 7, Pittsburgh 3
Total National Championships: 3

Divisional championships

Year Conference Division Coach Record
2009 Conference USA West June Jones 8–5
2010 Conference USA West June Jones 7–6
Total Divisional Championships 2

† Co-Divisional Champion ‡ Co-Divisional Champion with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Individual achievements

Heisman Trophy

Maxwell Award

Sammy Baugh Trophy

College Football Hall of Fame Inductees

Name Position Years at SMU Year Inducted
Ray Morrison Coach 1915–1916, 1922–1934 1954
Gerald "Little Red Arrow" Mann Quarterback 1925–1927 1969
Bobby Wilson Halfback 1933–1935 1973
"Moanin'" Matty Bell Coach 1935–1941, 1945–1949 1955
Doak "The Doaker" Walker Halfback 1945, 1947–1949 1959
Kyle "The Mighty Mustang" Rote Halfback 1948–1950 1964
"Dandy" Don Meredith Quarterback 1957–1959 1982
Hayden Fry Coach 1962–1972 2003
Jerry Rhome Quarterback 1961 1998
Jerry LeVias Wide Receiver 1966–1968 2003
Name Position Year
Choc Sanders Guard 1928
Marion Hammon Tackle 1929
Speedy Mason Halfback 1931
Clyde Carter Tackle 1934
Harry Shuford
Bobby Wilson
Harry Shuford
Bobby Wilson
Truman "Big Dog" Spain
J.C. "Iron Man" Wetsel
Kelly Simpson End 1941
Tom Dean Tackle 1945
Doak "The Doaker" Walker Halfback 1947
Doak Walker Halfback 1948
Doak Walker Halfback 1949
Kyle "The Mighty Mustang" Rote Halfback 1950
Dick Hightower Center 1951
Tackle 1955
Don "Dandy Don" Meredith Quarterback 1958
Don Meredith Quarterback 1959
John LaGrone Guard 1966
Jerry LeVias Wide Receiver 1968
Robert Popelka Defensive End 1972
Louie Kelcher
Oscar Roan
Tight End
Emanuel Tolbert Wide Receiver 1978
John Simmons Defensive Back 1980
Harvey Armstrong Defensive Tackle 1981
Eric Dickerson Running Back 1982
Russell Carter Defensive Back 1983
Reggie Dupard Running Back 1985
John Stewert Placekicker 1993
Honored jerseys
Number Name
17 Don "Dandy Don" Meredith
19 Eric Dickerson
37 Doak "The Doaker" Walker
73 Forrest Gregg
80 Lamar Hunt
87 Raymond Berry

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees

Name Position Team(s) Years Year Inducted
Lamar Hunt League Founder, Owner Dallas Texans
Kansas City Chiefs
Raymond Berry End Baltimore Colts 1955–1967 1973
Forrest Gregg Offensive Tackle Green Bay Packers
Dallas Cowboys
1956, 1958-1970 1971 1977
Doak Walker Halfback Detroit Lions 1950–1955 1986
Eric Dickerson Running Back Los Angeles Rams
Indianapolis Colts
Los Angeles Raiders
Atlanta Falcons

Current NFL players

Current CFL players

Current AFL players

Avery Lambden

Bowl appearances

Season Year Bowl Game Opponent W/L PF PA
1924 1925 Dixie Classic West Virginia Wesleyan L 7 9
1935 1936 Rose Bowl Stanford L 0 7
1947 1948 Cotton Bowl Classic Penn State T 13 13
1948 1949 Cotton Bowl Classic Oregon W 21 13
1963 1963 Sun Bowl Oregon L 14 21
1966 1966 Cotton Bowl Classic Georgia L 9 24
1968 1968 Bluebonnet Bowl Oklahoma W 28 27
1980 1980 Holiday Bowl BYU L 45 46
1982 1983 Cotton Bowl Classic Pittsburgh W 7 3
1983 1983 Sun Bowl Alabama L 7 28
1984 1984 Aloha Bowl Notre Dame W 27 20
2009 2009 Hawaiʻi Bowl Nevada W 45 10
2010 2010 Armed Forces Bowl Army L 14 16
2011 2012 BBVA Compass Bowl Pittsburgh W 28 6
2012 2012 Hawaiʻi Bowl Fresno State W 43 10

Head coaches

Name Years W-L-T
Ray Morrison 1915–1916 2-13-2
J. Burton Rix 1917–1921 16-19-7
Ray Morrison 1922–1934 82-31-20
Madison "Matty" Bell 1935–1941 47-24-3
James "Jimmy" Stewart 1942–1944 10-18-2
Madison "Matty" Bell 1945–1949 32-16-5
Harvey “Rusty” Russell 1950–1952 13-15-2
Chalmer “Woody” Woodard 1953–1956 19-20-1
William "Bill" Meek 1957–1961 17-29-4
Hayden Fry 1962–1972 49-66-1
Dave Smith 1973–1975 16-15-2
Ron Meyer 1976–1981 34-32-1
Bobby Collins 1982–1986 43-14-1
Forrest Gregg 1989–1990 3-19-0
Tom Rossley 1991–1996 15-48-3
Mike Cavan 1997–2001 22-34-0
Phil Bennett 2002–2007 18-52-0
June Jones 2008–2014 36-53-0
Chad Morris 2015- 0-0-0

Future non-conference opponents

SMU has released a partial list of non-conference opponents for the near future:
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
vs. Baylor at North Texas vs North Texas at North Texas vs North Texas at North Texas vs North Texas at North Texas vs North Texas at North Texas vs North Texas
vs. North Texas at Baylor at TCU at Michigan
at TCU vs. TCU vs TCU




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 fuel 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 gave 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 American Athletic Conference in 2015 which will allow for this game to become a regular conference game.

North Texas

SMU and North Texas share the DFW Metroplex as their home. The two teams have played 34 times dating back to 1922. The most recent meetings between the two teams occurred in 2014, when the Mean Green defeated the Mustangs 43-6. SMU leads the all-time series 28-4-1 but North Texas holds a 3 to 2 edge in the last quarter century. After SMU moved to The American, North Texas was invited to 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 to 2025 for a scheduled twelve game series.

All-time Records versus Rivals

Team Rivalry Name Trophy Games Played First Meeting Last Meeting SMU Win SMU Loss Ties
TCU Horned Frogs none Iron Skillet 92 1915 2014 lost 56-0 40 47 7
Rice Owls none Mayor's Cup 90 1916 2012 lost 14-36 48 41 1
Baylor Bears none none 79 1916 2014 lost 0-45 36 37 7
Texas A&M Aggies none none 81 1916 2014 lost 6-58 29 45 7
Texas Longhorns none none 73 1916 1995 lost 10-35 22 47 4
Arkansas Razorbacks none none 73 1920 1999 lost 0-26 31 37 5
Texas Tech Red Raiders none none 49 1932 2013 lost 23-41 16 33 0
North Texas Mean Green Safeway Bowl none 33 1922 2014 lost 6-43 28 5 1
Houston Cougars none none 28 1975 2012 won 72-42 10 17 1
Navy Midshipmen none Gansz Trophy 16 1930 2011 lost 17-24 7 9 0

Home fields


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Frank, Peter (1987-04-11). "'88 football season canceled by SMU".  
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "SMU Mustangs future schedules". Retrieved 2014-08-02. 

External links

  • Official website
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