Football was one of my first passions in life. It was passed down to me from my dad at an early age. In fact, some of my earliest memories are sitting on the couch on Saturday afternoons watching SEC football. My obsession crystallized when I started playing at the age of five. It was something about bringing together a group of people, practicing, refining, and then executing when you need to the most, that gets my blood pumping every time. My personal journey with the sport came to an end in high school, however I live vicariously through the teams that I support: the Westminster Wildcats, the Tennessee Titans, the Tennessee Vols, and now the SMU Mustangs.
For those who are versed in college football history, SMU Football has been synonymous with greatness until the infamous death penalty fiasco. However, after hitting rock bottom with a 1-11 record two years ago, we’ve managed to bring ourselves out of being the laughing stock of Division 1 football. We’ve become so successful, in fact, that in the beginning of this season our quarterback, Kyle Padron, was on Heisman Watch lists for some of the pundits who work for ESPN and others. Additionally our games with Texas Tech and TCU were on national television, the latter during Primetime. And for the first time in as long as anybody could remember, Ford Stadium was filled. This campus was perfectly cultivated for SMU football to be relevant again; however, we lost both the Texas Tech and the TCU games, in addition to losing games later in the season to UTEP, Houston, and Navy. These loses essentially drained the buzz around SMU Football this season. Even though our current situation is light years ahead of where we used to be, we are far from where we came from. We have hit the plateau of mediocrity. In spite of this, there are some steps that we as a program need to take in order to make the next jump.
Being in Dallas, Texas is great for recruiting: we are in a good position to get local talent and this is a significant enough city to draw recruits from other states. The first step in the process must come through recruiting higher quality players from across the nation, as well as picking up a couple of upper level local prospects from UT, Texas Tech and Oklahoma. I know people will say, “All of the upper level athletes don’t have the grades to get in to SMU.” And I call bull on that. Stanford University’s football team is 8-1 and ranked number seven in the nation as well as having equal, if not harder, academic requirements, as well as being in a more difficult conference, the PAC10. The main difference between a program like SMU and a program like Stanford is not in talent, but in depth and execution. In some ways those two go hand in hand because the more talent depth a team has, the more competition there is in practices leading to more prepared and better playing athletes.
A transition like this would already be set in place; it would only require strong wins in a few games on a national level, which is very possible as seen by those who watched the TCU and Texas Tech games, and soundly beating teams that we are more talented than, in a manner similar to Boise State or Utah. It’s a little too late this year, but if we finish up with a strong victory in a Bowl game then we can start up momentum for the following season. With a strong recruiting class in the next couple of years in a conference such as ours, SMU could finish in the top 25 regularly and make a run at winning the C-USA Championship every year. The days of the Pony Express are well in the past; although with a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, a new and exciting future is on the horizon for SMU Football.
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