BY: Richard W. Humphrey
In the aftermath of June Jones’s resignation, football practices have been closed to the media this week, and the word is that the interim coaches are installing a new offense. The “run and shoot” is supposedly no more. Cynics will say that there’s no chance that an offense can be installed over two weeks (since SMU has an off week this Saturday); but on the other hand, the offense the Mustangs have utilized has gotten beat 88-6 in two games so far this year. What the heck do they have to lose?
There is and will not be for a while any word on the direction of the coaching search. The last three coaches have been a head man at a division 1-AA program (Mike Cavan), a coordinator from an upper echelon D1 program (Phil Bennett) and a big name (June Jones). There is no decision as to where to pursue a new coach as the season is so early. With the trend toward utilizing personnel search firms, coaches can discretely make their interest known through their agents without causing ripples to their current situation.
The coaching interest in the job will largely determine the direction the search will take, and Athletic Director Rick Hart will surely get strong interest in the job. It is still a very desirable job in a desirable location, despite the inevitable awful record for this year.. Certainly basketball takes far fewer impact players to turn a program around, but fans need to look no further than Larry Brown and the SMU basketball program to see what a desirable school SMU is for top athletes and how a program can be turned around quickly.
It’s now about two months to the opening of basketball season, and for many fans, those two months can’t pass quickly enough. The American Athletic Conference announced the conference schedule recently. SMU will have a school record 22 games nationally televised including their first appearance on CBS since the 1993 NCAA Tournament, and the first regular season game on CBS since the 1984-85 season.
The CBS appearance will be the Connecticut game, played in Storrs, Connecticut on March 1. Game time is 1:00 PM (eastern) and Noon (Central). The meeting between the reigning National Champions and the Mustangs in Moody Coliseum will be February 14 at (9:00/8:00 Central). It will be televised on on ESPN.
There are nine games on ESPN or ESPN2, seven on ESPNU or ESPN News, five on the CBS Sports Network, and the Connecticut game on CBS.
“The television schedule is a reflection of the quality of the basketball teams in the American (AAC),” head coach Larry Brown said. “We have a chance to play great teams in great environments. There are a lot of great opportunities to continue to elevate our program.”
The schedule includes 11 games against teams that were in last season’s NCAA Tournament. In conference play, the Mustangs will face Cincinnati, Memphis, Connecticut and Tulsa twice each. In non-conference play, SMU plays Michigan, Gonzaga and Texas Southern.
There are 18 home games, and shockingly, the season is sold out. More than 5,000 season tickets have been sold. Those of you non-season ticket holders should look to the road schedule, hope you have a generous friend in Dallas with season tickets, or belly up to the bar and pay StubHub prices.
SMU was 18-1 in home games last year, which did not include a win at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas. That game was considered a neutral site. Of those games, the Ponies were 12-1 at Moody Coliseum. All home games this season are scheduled for Moody.
The Mustangs will likely be ranked among the top 15 teams in the nation when the early season polls come out, and it is a team talented enough to realistically challenge for a National Championship. With the way this year’s football season is going, the November 14 opening game against Lamar can’t arrive soon enough.