BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The national college signing date –  traditionally the first Wednesday in February – came to pass, and the Mustangs have almost filled their intended allotment of 20 scholarships.  Seven players were signed on the early signing date in December, 11 more were signed this week, and Conner Allen, a running back from Highland Park High School, is included as a preferred walk-on.  That leaves two scholarships available, and head coach Sonny Dykes believes he has fifth year transfers that can play immediately headed his way to fill those two slots.

This was the first year that the early signing date was introduced, and Dykes says he likes it.  Most of the higher profile programs of college football filled most, if not all, of their available scholarships in December.  Dykes feels this helped programs that are not in power five conferences.  Players who had been passed over from more well known programs then became available to teams like SMU.  He had six weeks to evaluate such players that may not have been on his radar screen prior to the December early signing date.  Dykes said he anticipates in the future signing about half the class in December and finishing in February.

It is noteworthy that Dykes signed a number of players that he feels can immediately help the program.  Four of the seven players signed in December came from junior colleges.  They enrolled for the spring semester and will go through spring training with the team.  He added one more JC player this month and, as noted above, expects two fifth year seniors to transfer and be immediately available without having to sit out a year.  He thus expects at least seven of the 21 players to make an impact this fall.

Also, there is a concentration in this class in three areas – offensive and defensive line and defensive backs.  Both lines were good at the beginning of last season, but injuries made them less effecxtive late in the season.  At a minimum, the new additions bring needed depth.

Personally, this is music to my ears.  The Mustangs won seven games last year and were bowl eligible for the first time in five years.  Certainly, some good players are departing like Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn, both of whom declared for the NFL draft.  I’m personally happy to see Dykes re-load to try to improve on the record of the 2017 team.

Dykes indicated that he does not expect to recruit so many upper class men in the future, but he felt the program needed the immediate shot in the arm for 2018.

Dykes has indicated that the two graduate transfers he expects are receivers.  There are no receivers among the current 19 recruits, and with the losses of Sutton and Quinn, the team needs depth at the position.  James Proche is back and Judah Bell is a premier receiving talent who was redshirted last year, but the offense needs more than two quality receivers.

Dykes did say that the assurances of the transfers coming emboldened him to aim for higher end receivers among the freshmen he recruited.  They took a shot at couple of very good receivers who, in the end, chose other schools.  Without the promise of the transfers, Dykes would likely have had to offer scholarship to a lesser high school talent to assure depth at the position.

The Dallas Morning News gave the Mustangs’ recruiting class an A- grade.  That’s an outstanding performance with the turnoil caused by the coaching change.  Hats off to Athletic Director Rick Hart for hiring a quality replacement so quickly after Chad Morris left; and hats off to Sonny Dykes for a job well done over these last two months.

Besides recruiting, Dykes has diligently been putting together his coaching staff.  It’s been a harried two months to get the program in shape to continue improving.  Dykes admitted he would soon take a vacation.  He needs some serious beach time to recover.


The SMU community mourns the passing of former track coach Jim Parr last week.  Parr was an outstanding athlete at SMU and later coached the SMU track team from 1967 – 1979.  Seven Mustangs arned All-American honors during his tenure.



BY:  Richard W. Humphrey                                                                                                                 Member USBWA

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – All that Super Bowl foolishness ended last Sunday.  It’s now one of the best times in a sports year – pure college basketball for the next eight weeks.  There are four weeks remaining in the regular season, another week for the conference post-season tournaments and three more weeks for the NCAA Tournament.

In the AAC, Cincinnati looks to be all but mathematically in as the regular season champion.  They sit atop the pack with a perfect 11-0 record.  They are three full games ahead of 8-3 Wichita State and three games ahead oof 7-3 Houston in the loss column.  It’s unlikely that Cincinnati gets caught with seven games remaining.  Three of their remaining games are at home where they have a 39 game winning streak, the longest current streak in the NCAA.  They do face Wichita State twice, so the Wheat Shockers have the best chance to catch them, but they still need help from at least one other team to catch the Bearcats.

Tulsa and SMU are next with five losses.  Tulsa has one more win than the Ponies, and in case of a tie, the Golden Hurricane holds the tie breaker by virtue of beating the Mustangs last week.  Six teams then follow with six conference losses leaving East Carolina at 3-8 and 1-10 South Florida in the battle for the last two places in the conference.

It has been a good year for the AAC.  Wichita State has been a top program for years, and many expected them to dominate when they joined the AAC this year.  It hasn’t happened.  They have lost three conference games, and are scrambling for the number two seed in the conference post-season tournament.

The race at this point is for seeding in the post season conference tournament.  The top four teams in the regular season get first round byes.  Cincinnati is almost mathematically in with a five game lead over Tulsa and a 5.5 game lead over SMU with seven games to play.

Houston and Wichita State certainly have the inside tract on two of the remaining seeds that receive first round byes.  They have a two game lead in the loss column on the nearest competitor.

The race for the the four seed though is a real race.  Seven teams have either five or six losses, and realistically could become that fourth team.  In fact even two of the pack of seven could get a first round bye if they overtake Houston or Wichita State.

It’s tough road for the Mustangs.  They have four home games starting with Cincinnati this Sunday.  Memphis completes a two game home stand when they come calling on Valentines Day.  Wichita State and the University of Houston finish the home portion of the regular season on February 24 and 28.

The road portion of the remaining regular season starts with UH this Thursday, continues with consecutive road games at Central Florida and East Carolina on February 17 and 21 and ends with the final regular season game at South Florida on Sunday March 4.  The Mustangs have just one road win this season, but two of the remaining road games are against the two bottom feeders and Central Florida is reeling with the loss of their big man Tacko Fall to injury.

Clearly the Mustangs have been slowed by injuries.  The first conference loss came at Tulane when Ethan Chargois didn’t make the trip because of the flu.  Jarrey Foster played just a little over five minutes against Wichita State before leaving with a season ending knee injury.  Everett Ray joined him shortly thereafter with a broken foot sustained warming  up for the next game.  Shake Milton missed the last game at Tulsa with a wrist injury, and he is doubtful for this week’s game in Houston.

As for post-season play, this AAC looks like a three bid conference for the NCAA Tournament.  Cincinnati and Wichita Sate are most surely in.  They have been ranked in the top 25 since the season began.  Houston is the most likely to be the third team at this point, but they could falter and open the door for one of the others to get hot and overtake them.  Winning the conference post-season tournament though is realistically the most likely way for another team to receive an NCAA bid.

The likelihood then is that the AAC sends three or even four teams to the NIT.  That’s a bit disappointing.  The conference is definitely stronger this year, but injuuries have really hurt SMU, Central Florida and Connecticut.  The pack of teams with five or six losses have basically beat each other up to keep one of them from emerging as a fourth NCAA team.


*     The #2 ranked SMU Equestrian team lost for the first time in the 2017-2018 season when they fell to South Carolina 12-7 at the Dallas Equestrian Center.  The SMU Equestrian team returns to action at the Fresno Invitational on February 16-17.  They face Fresno State the first day and Oklahoma State the next.


BY:  Richard W. Humphrey                                                                                                                 Member USBWA 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – This is my 23rd year of writing about sports.  Never in that time have I received so much reader reaction to an article as I did last week about SMU’s plan to “re-seat” Moody Coliseum.  Threatening Men’s Basketball season ticket holders with taking away their seats even if they pay a larger contribution to the Mustang Club has not set well.

First, some clarifications from my last article.  There are more seats at Moody that can be purchased without making a corresponding contribution to the Mustang Club than last week’s article would have led you to believe.  They are naturally the least desirable seats, generally very high in the upper bowl.

Second, there are also fewer seats that will require increases in the Mustang Club contribution to maintain those seats next year.  Essentially, section 104 on the lower level, and the first six rows of the upper bowl will require larger Mustang Club contributions.  The exceptions according to the brochure sent to season ticket holders are sections 204 and 212, the center court sections in the upper bowl.  All of the seats in 204 and the first 13 rows in section 212 will require larger donations.

With even fewer seats involving increases in Mustang Club donations, it’s more mystifying that the athletic department has gone to this extent to upset the season ticket holders with the re-seating process.  For the record, the athletic department feels there are a number of fans that are willing to make large donations to obtain premium seating.  These fans are not willing to wait on the normal turnover to make premium seats available, and are willing to pay even more than the required donation to obtain premium seats.  So effectively, fans are being pitted against other fans for the better seats.  The fans displaced that have held those seats and made corresponding Mustang Club donations for years be damned.

In Matt Doherty’s final year as head coach, total attendance for 15 home games was 30,150.  In Larry Brown’s second season as head asketball coach, the attendance exceeded 100,000 for the regular season and with three home NIT games, the total was more than 120,000.  In each year since, the total home attendance has exceeded 100,000.  At this point, the season ticket sales alone assure more than 100,000 in attendance.

It is thus surprising that the athletic department doesn’t have more appreciation for the following they have developed.  Many season ticket holders that I have spoken with are considering letting their tickets go altogether or at a minimum not making a Mustang Club donation until after the March 31 deadline to see what seats they will be getting. after the re-seating process.

One reader pointed out in the response I received that there are indications that the crowd interest is already waning.  The celebrities attending the games when Larry Brown coached the team have largely stopped coming.  Certainly George and Laura Bush continue to attend, and there is no bigger celebrity than a former President and First Lady.  However, Jason Garrett and Tony Romo were regulars as recently as two years ago, but are no longer seen.  It’s difficult to remember the last time  Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks, or Jerry Jones, owner of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys were there.

The next group to lose interest per the reader will be the students.  It’s been years since we’ve seen the films on the news of students meeting the team as they return at a late hour from a road trip or films of lines of students camping out overnight to be at the head of the line for tickets to a big game.  Last Sunday’s game was the first this year after the students returned for the spring semester, but there were noticeable holes in the student section.

It’s been a good six year run to develope such a following.  There are a number of contributing factors, but none more important than the team on the court.  That puts the pressure on this year’s team to perform in the final nine regular season games.

This Mustangs are currently 15-7.  There are four games remaining with the top three teams in the conference standings – Houston, Cincinnati, and Wichita State.  Fortuantely, three of those games are at home.  The team is 1-4 in pure road games and 2-6 away from Moody Coliseum counting neutral site games.  Five of the remaining nine games are on the road.

The Mustangs need to go 7-2 in the remaining games to feel pretty good about their chances of receiving an NCAA Tournament at large bid.  Anything less than 6-3 probably leaves winning the conference post-season tournament as the only path to the Big Dance.

Missing the NCAA Tournament would hurt the effort for next year’s ticket sales.  Looking forward to next season, the talent cupboard looks to be thinning.  It has been a foregone conclusion since before the season began that Shake Milton will forsake his senior year and declare for the NBA draft.  Ethan Chargois is the only solid freshman recruit since Milton and Jarrey Foster’s recruiting class.  The two freshmen that have signed and transfer Isaiah Mike will take the place of Milton and senior Ben Emelogu.

It’s still surprising that the athletic department didn’t jsut raise ticket prices through increased Mustang Club donations andlet the market place determine the outcome.  Fans realize it takes a lot of money to have a successful basketball program.  Threatening the fans with taking away their seats even if they pay the incxreased price is what has them upset.

The bottom line then is that a large number of season ticket holders, rightly or wrongly, feel angst about losing their seats in the future, about seats that will cost more in the future if they get to keep them, and are looking at a program that is showing signs of going into a decline.

FOOTBALL NOTES:  The National Signing Date for football recruiting is next Wednesday, February 7.  Hew Head Football Coach Sonny Dykes signed seven players during the December early signing period, and there are currently eight firm verbal commits for a total of 15.  Dykes has said he expects to end up with a total of 20 in this class, leaving five open scholarships.

One of the more publicized scholarship offers is to John Stephen Jones from Highland Park High School in Dallas.  Jones is the grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.  He has also received offers from Texas Tech and Arkansas.  The feeling is that he will ultimately sign with Arkansas, where his father and grandfather played.

Dykes said about the other five scholarships that he expects at least two to go to graduate transfers that will be immediately eligible.  He is putting an emphasis on offensive and defensive linemen.  Of note too is that four of the seven recruits signed in December are already enrolled at SMU and will be able to go through spring training.  They are Lavon Livingston (offensive line), Nick Dennis (offensive line) and Trevor Denbow (outside linebacker) from Navarro Junior College.  William Brown from Lamar Consilidated is also enrolled.






BY:  Richard W. Humphrey                                                                                                                Member USBWA

UNIVERISTY PARK, Texas – Nothing succeeds like success, and for the SMU Men’s basketball team, last week was a success.  Winning a pair of games to end a three game losing streak was a good week in and of itself.  With one of those wins being on the road over an opponent ranked in the Top 10 in both major polls, it became a great success.

It was difficult to imagine that the Mustangs could beat Wichita State.  The Wheat Shockers had a home winning streak of 27 games and talent-wise, are regarded as a serious contender to reach the Final Four.  The Mustangs came into the game with a bench of two juniors and three freshmen, with none of the freshmen having much impact so far this year.  The bench quickly got thinner.  Everett Ray was dealing with a leg injury. Barely five minutes into the game, Jarrey Foster left the court for good with a strained knee.  That left the Mustangs very short depth-wise with only eight shcolarship players.

They responded well.  Shake Milton seemed to will the win on his own.  He scored a career high 33 points, as the Mustangs led on the scoreboard for most of the game, including the entire second half, and held on for the win despite a serious late charge by Wichita State.

Milton and the team looked hung over from the Wichita game at the start of Saturday’s contest against Tulane.  Foster and Ray were again unavailable with injury, so the Ponies played with a short bench.

Milton missed all eight shots he took in the first half.  SMU trailed by nine points early, but Jimmy Whitt stepped up to get the Mustangs back in the game.  He made four steals on four consecutive Tulane possessions in the span of 58 seconds to ignite the offense.  The Mustangs struggled in for a three point halftime lead, with Whitt having scored 12 points.

Tulane didn’t go away, though.  The Green Wave was hot to start the second half and quickly re-took the lead.  They continued to make three point shots to keep in the game.  Milton finally hit a basket about seven minutes into the second half, and scored 18 points over the final 13 minutes to secure the win.  .

The week has at least gotten the Mustangs back into the consideration for an NCAA Tournament bid.  ESPN “bracketologist” Joe Lunardi had the Mustangs as one of the “last four in” even before Saturday’s win over Tulane. gives the Mustangs a 78% chance of receiving an at-large bid, projecting SMU to finish the regular season 8-3 over the final 11 games.  That would give SMU 22 wins for the year, and there would hopefully be at least one more win in the AAC post-season tournament.

The trick is making 8-3 come true.  The Mustangs are currently in fourth place in the conference race.  They have four remaining games with the three teams in front of them – Wichita State, Cincinnati and Houston.  Three of the four though are home games.  Road games at Tulsa,  Connecticut and Central Florida will not be slam dunks.

This week, Shake Milton was named as the Conference “Player of the Week” for the third time.  The 53 points he scored were major facors in the two wins.  He shared the award with Cincinnati’s Gary Clark, who scored 31 points and pulled down 29 rebounds in the Bearcats’ two wins.

The news Monday wasn’t all good, though.  Jarrey Foster’s injury proved serious enough to end his season.  He’s got a torn ACL.  He’s been the second best player on the team, so he’s a huge loss.  Everett Ray is also lost for the season with a broken foot.  With Foster and Ray out, the Mustangs are down to eight eligible scholarship players.

The Mustangs have a road game Thursday at Connecticut and a home game against East Carolina on Sunday.  There is not much margin for error.  The Ponies need to win them both.

For sure though, last week’s results lessened the tension that the program was feeling last Monday after losing three games in a row.


BY:  Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                              Member USBWA

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – There is likely strong concern, if not panic at the Crumm Center basketball offices as the  SMU Men’s basketball team has yet to win in calendar year 2018, losing conference matchups with Cincinnati, Tulane and Temple.  For sure, really good teams go through slumps, but.this losing streak looks like more than a slump.  It has raised concern over the direction of the program.. In short, the program that Larry Brown turned around may have peaked and is now on a downward spiral.

The team finished calendar 2017 with a 12-3 record, which included a 2-0 start in conference play.  There was every expectation that the Mustangs would contend for the regular season conference title and receive an NCAA Tournament bid.  These three losses, though, have dispelled the hope of a conference championship and perhaps even post-season play.

The Cincinnati loss was expected.  The Bearcats are good and they don’t often lose at home.  They have a 35 game home winning streak that is the longest current home winning streak in Division I.  The way the Mustangs played is what sounded alarms.  The Bearcats are known to play a tough physical game.  They are 16-2 overall after beating Central Florida Tuesday night, and have limited opponents to fewer than 60 points in 12 games.

The Mustangs looked intimidated by the Cincinnati’s physicality.  The Bearcats took control of the scoreboard early, pushing the lead into double digits in the first half.  It was more of the same in the second half, as the lead moved into the 20′s.  The final score was 76-56, a game in which the Mustangs were simply not competitive.

In the Temple and Tulane games, the Mustangs were clear favorites on the betting line.  The Ponies led by 12 points against the Green Wave with less than 12 minutes remaining, but could not hold onto the lead.

The Temple loss ended a 33 game home winning streak for SMU.  The Ponies shot poorly, both from the field and at the free throw line, as they fell behind early and trailed for most of the game.  The Mustangs put together a marvelous 17-3 run to take a late lead.  They were ahead by three with 1:46 left in the game, but didn’t have the poise to finish off the win.

The game day coaching is certainly being criticized .  The Mustangs simply do not perform well in close games.  They are just 2-4 this season in games decided by less than 10 points.

There is also a question as to recruiting without Larry Brown as the headliner coach.  The program has been built on solid players that learn the system and culture as freshmen, then move into leadership roles as upper clasmen. Players such as Sterling Brown, Ben Moore and Shake Milton.  Since Brown resigned as head coach, seven freshmen have signed.  Three are already out of the program and only Ethan Chargois looks to be a solid contributor. This year’s team is really a patchwork of transfers.

SMU at 2-3 is tied with Tulsa for eighth place in the conference race.  Cincinnati and Wichita State appear to be the class of the league.  They are both undefeated in conference play and have been ranked in the Top 25 in both polls all season.  SMU still has three games remaining with this pair.

The Mustangs are 0-3 in true road games this year and have road games remaining with Wichita State, Connecticut, Tulsa, Houston and Central Florida; all very loseable.  With home games that include Wichita State, Houston, and Cincinnati, the Mustangs could be scrambling to finish the year with 17-18 wins, a record that would not be good enough to garner even an NIT bid, much less an NCAA Tournament bid.

The concern for the program comes at a very inopportune time for the athletic department that is pushing to gouge fans for a significant ticket price increase next season.. Currently, almost every ticket available to be sold on a season ticket basis requires a corresponding Mustang Club donation.  The athletic department has already notified season ticket holders that there will be a significant increase in the required Mustang Club donation to retain their seats   Most of the Mustang Club donation levels are doubling for the second time in four years.

The rub, though, is that the donations are required to be paid by March 31, but the re-seating process will not take place until May.  So, even if the new Mustang Club donation is paid, there is no assurance the ticket holder will retain their seats.

A program that may be losing stature is bad for next year’s ticket sales and, on top of the price increases, the provisions in the recently passed federal tax bill takes away any deduction for Mustang Club donations that are tied to season ticket seat purchases.

The guess here is that there will be considerable pushback this time for increasing the Mustang Club donations.  A few ticket holders will be priced out of the market.  For sure, there is hostility at being asked to materially increase Mustang Club donations with no assurance of retaining current ticket locations.  Many long timeseason ticket holders feel betrayed – threatened with losing their seat locations after supporting many years of losing teams, not to mention the embarassment of NCAA probation.

The home schedule has included 18 games in recent years.  A number of the non-conference opponents are clunkers.  Even conference games are not necessarily “Must Sees”.  Last week. a local web site had four tickets for sale in section 104 for $40.00 for the Temple game..  Section 104 is a prime seat location – courtside at mid-court.  The season ticket holder paid around $200 per ticket including the required Mustang Club donation to have those tickets.

A number of season ticket holders will likely find it easier and more cost efficient to withdraw all Mustang Club donations and let their season tickets go.  They can pay a premium for seats to the “Big Games” from a re-sale ticket site.  Tickets for the “Popgun U” games can be purchased for a song, and the fan doesn’t end up paying for the games in which tickets don’t get used.

At a minimum, the athletic department has angered the fan base.  One really solid supporter of the program vowed recently that he would pay the required Mustang Club for his seats, which he has had for more than 20 years.  However, if he loses his seats, he promises not to donate another dime to the school.

Cetainly, it is expensive to have a quality basketball program where seven figure salaries are the norm for head coaches and top asistants make salaries significantly into six figures.  However, alienating the fan base can’t be a good approach to building a loyal fan following.  With questions now on the horizon about the direction of the program altogether, it’s simply not a good time to attempt to fleece the fans.

It all adds up to a lot of pressure on the coaching staff to get this season’s fortunes turned around quickly, starting Wednesday night with number 7 (AP) and 4(Coaches’) Wichita State.  On the road! .


*     Ben Moore was added to the Indiana Pacers’ roster last week joining Sterling Brown and Semi Ojeleye from last year’s team as players that have appeared in an NBA game this year.


BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The SMU football team laid a rotten egg in the team’s first bowl appearance in five years.  The Mustangs turned the ball over six times, including two “pick sixes”, to hand the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs a 51-10 dominating victory in the first DXL Frisco Bowl.  Both teams finished the year with 7-6 records.

The Mustangs came in as four point favorites on the betting line looking to cap off the 2017 season with an eighth win.  It was new head coach Sonny Dykes’ first game, and the team wanted to make him a winner as well as send out the seniors with a win to capture momentum for next season.  On the field though, the dream didn’t come true.

Louisiana Tech quarterback J’mar Smith completed 15 of 23 passes, including three for touchdowns, for 216 yards to spearhead the Bulldogs’ offense.

The Mustangs turned the ball over five times in the first half, as Louisiana Tech took a 42-10 lead to the halftime locker room.  Tres Quinn scored the Mustangs’ lone touchdown.  SMU QB Ben Hicks completed 19 of 33 passes for just 127 yards.

In retrospect, the shellacking at the hands (paws?) of the Bulldogs was probably inevitable.  Once the regular season ended November 25, the speculation whirled that head coach Chad Morris would be offered a head coaching job from a school in one of the power five conferences.

It turned out to be Arkansas, and the uncertainty was far from over once Morris left.  Players are really closer to their position coaches, and Morris ended up taking almost the entire offensive assistants.  G. J. Kinne, a graduate assistant, was the Mustangs’ offensive coordinator for the bowl game.

The uncertainty is far from over for the players though.  Many of the assistant coaching positions are still to be filled.  Many are wondering not only who their new position coach will be and how they will fit in a new offense and most probably a new defense too.  There is no chance that defensive coordinator Van Malone returns in that position.

The day of the bowl game was not a total loss for the program.  The signing date for football players was moved up to December 20.  The Mustangs had accumulated 19 verbal committments before Morris left for Arkansas.  Three de-committed immediately when he took the new job.

It was thought to be a reasonable recruiting class, though 247 Sports projected it to be ranked in the 70′s.  The question was thought to be whether Dykes could keep it together as many of the other 16 verbal commits were taking a wait and see attitude.

Instead, Dykes pulled a big rabbit out of the hat on signing day.  Levon Livingston, a 6′-7″, 275 pound offensive lineman, surprisingly signed with the Mustangs.  He was a highly regarded prospect with offers from schools such as Texas.  He undoubtedly will be the starting left tackle next season.  He’s the type of signing that can attract better recruits, a definite program changer.

Dykes ended up signing seven recruits over the 72 hour signing period that began December 20.  Two others – Nick Dennis, a 6′-4″ 315 offensive guard, and Trevor Denbow, a 6′-1″ 220 pound linebacker, also signed out of Navarro Junior College.

With the early signing period now closed, Dykes’ number one priority is filling out his coaching staff.  In his introductory press conference, he stated that defensive coordinator would be a high priority.  “For us to win a conference championship, and that’s our intent, we’ve got to become a great defensive football team.”

He has about seven weeks to fill out his recruiting class.  It’s inevitable that some players currently in the program will transfer.  The players will begin learning Dykes’ “Air Brigade” offense, which isn’t drastically different from what Mustang fans saw with Chad Morris as head coach.

There is much to do to prepare the team for an even better record in 2018; but for sure, Dykes takes over far more talent than Morris did prior to the 2015 season.  Mustang fans should have every expectation of the program continuing to improve, rather than take a step back initially.


*     Courtland Sutton made official what everyone assumed would happen.  He wrote a “good-bye” letter to SMU two days after the bowl game declaring for the NFL draft instead of returning for his final year of eligibility.  Sutton graduated after the fall semester with a degree in sports management.  “The relationships I have built, and the experiences I have had are absolutely priceless,” Sutton said in the letter.

*     John Stephen Jones, the grandson of Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, quarterbacked the Highland Park Scots to the school’s second consecutive state football championship last Friday.  Jones has received sholarship offers from both Arkansas and SMU.


BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The Chad Morris era as SMU’s head football coach came to an end last week when Morris accepted the position of head football coach at the University of Arkansas.  Morris just completed his third season on the Hilltop after four years as offensive coordinator at Clemson.  He has a 14-22 record overall as the team has shown improvement over the previous season in all three years.  This year’s team finished the regular season at 7-5 and will play Louisiana Tech in the DXL Frisco Bowl on December 20.

This week SMU moved quickly to hire Daniel “Sonny” Dykes To repl Morris.  Dykes, the son of former Texas Tech head coach Spike Dykes, has been the head football coach at California and Louisiana Tech for seven seasons combined.  He took over a 3-8 team at Louisiana Tech and was 22-15 in his three years there including a WAC championship.  He then went to the Cal Bears, where his record was19-30.  He was fired after the 2016 season largely because of his pursuit of other head coaching jobs such as Baylor and Virginia.  This past season, he was on Gary Patterson’s TCU staff.

Jeff Traylor, the assistant Head Coach and Running backs coach was immediately named interim head coach when Morris departed.  Traylor is thought to be the other candidate for the job that was seriously considered.  His background was similar to Morris’s with 13 seasons as the head coach at Gilmer high school in East Texas.  He moved into college coaching three years ago as an assistant for Charley Strong at Texas.  This season was his first year at SMU.

Traylor has a very likeable personaltiy, but his college coaching experience was limited  to just three seasons and did not include being a coordinator.  SMU Athletic Director Rick Hart apparently chose Dykes’ experience in the college ranks over the promising Traylor.  Traylor was scheduled to coach the Mustangs in the Frisco Bowl next week, but when he was passed over for the head coaching job, he bolted to join Morris in Fayetteville.  Dykes will now coach SMU in the bowl game.

It was important for SMU to move quickly to replace Morris, and they did.  The signing date for football recruits was moved up to December 20 this year from the traditional first Wednesday in February.  SMU had nineteen verbal committments.  A handful renewed their commitment to make good on their intentions to sign with SMU even with Morris moving on.  Three de-committed last weekend.

Dykes’ task is to retain as many of the verbal commits as possible, and assembling a coaching staff quickly will assist greatly.  Players really have more kinship with their position coach than to the head coach.  Hopefully for Mustang fans, Dykes will be able to salvage this year’s recruiting class.

“We are going to hit the road recruiting,” Dykes said Tuesday when introduced at a press conference, “probably in the next couple minutes.”  Dykes, like Morris, is known for his strong ties with high school football coaches in Texas.

Morris has proven to be an energetic recruiter since his arrival at SMU.  He certainly has a great offensive mind, as this year’s team finished 13th in the nation in average yards of total offense per game, and the team scored 41 points per game.  Receivers Trey Quinn and Courtland Sutton have already been named to All-American teams.  Both likely will leave the program early for the NFL draft next spring. It’s been an exciting offense to watch.

For sure Morris leaves the program in much better shape than when he arrived before the 2015 season.  Dykes definitely inherits far better talent than Morris did.  Dykes is known as a high powered offensive coach, so the exciting scoring machine that Mustangs have come to expect should continue.  The task for Dykes, if he is to advance the program, is to develop a better defensive unit.

The Morris era ended last week, but Mustangs have every reason to believe the program will continue to improve with the start of the Dykes era.


*     SMU will start construction of an indoor practice facility in 2018.  SMU President R. Gerald Turner said during the Dykes introductory press conference that 80% of the funds required to construct the facility had been raised, which is the threshhold to start construction.  The ground breaking is expected sometime in March.





BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The SMU Men’s basketall team blew out UT-Rio Grande Valley to finish November with a 6-2 record.  The Mustangs were a perfect 5-0 at Moody Coliseum, extending their home winning streak to 27 games.  They went 1-2 in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas.

In home games, there was never a question as to the outcome.  None of the opponents were capable of beating SMU.  The Mustangs margin of victory was more than 10 points in all five.

The three games in the Bahamas were close.  Oddly, the underdog on the betting line for all three games won.  The Mustangs beat then number two ranked Arizona by six points and lost by three to Northern Iowa and by two to Western Kentucky.

The Mustangs were disappointed they didn’t win a second game, but if they were to win only one, they picked the right one.  SMU has never beaten a team ranked number one, and has only once previously beaten a team ranked second in the nation.  They beat Louisville, led by All-Americans Butch Beard and Wes Unseld, in the 1967 NCAA Tournament back in the days of Denny Holman and Bob Begert.

It’s still amazing the Mustangs beat Arizona.  Coaches often point to shooting percentage as the determining stat.  The Mustangs shot 31.4%, while Arizona 46.8%.  SMU won despite the disparity in shooting percentage largely because of turnovers.  Arizona turned it over 20 times to only eight for SMU.  That led to the Mustangs taking 23 more shots (70-47).

Hats off to Head Coach Tim Jankovich.  Arizona is a really big team led by 7′-1″ Deandre Ayton, who could easily be the number one pick in next year’s NBA draft.  Jankovich countered Ayton by going with a smaller, quicker lineup for much of the second half that created the turnovers.

ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted after the game, “Hard to win 30 and be underrated, but @coachJankSMU lost 3 pros & has young team & beats Arizona.  Great coach.”

By the numbers, the Mustangs lead the American Athletic Conference and are fifth in the nation in scoring defense at 56.5 points allowed per game.  67 points are the most any opponent has managed to score.  The Mustangs also lead the conference in turnover margin at plus 4.2 per game.

Offensively, SMU averages 74.3 points per game and is averaging 17.5 assists per game.  Three Mustangs are scoring in double digits.  Shake Milton, the preseason pick for conference Player of the Year, leads the way with 18.3 points per game.  He has scored in the 20′s three times and is deadly at the free throw line, where he has hit 42 of 47 attempts.

Junior Jarrey Foster is next averaging 14.9 points.  Three times he has hit his career high of 19 points in a game.  Freshman Ethan Chargois is the third double digit scorer at 12.5 points per game.  He is the only Mustang, besides Milton, to crack the 20 point mark, which he has done twice.

The other two starters are averaging close to double digits.  Ben Emelogu is averaging 9.9 points per game with some strong three point shooting.  He is hitting 54.3% of his long rangers, which leads the conference.  Whitt is averaging 9.1 points per game after setting his career high against UT-RGV with 18 points.  Whitt also leads the conference with 5.4 assists per game.

The starting lineup that Jankovich envisioned before the season began included his three returning scolarship players from last year’s team – Milton, Foster and Emelogu.  Whitt sat out last year, per the transfer rules, but was able to practice with the team.  He was slotted for a fourth starting spot.  Akoy Agau, the 6′-9″ center that transferred from Georgetown, was plugged in to be the fifth.  That left a bench of four scholarship freshmen.  Chargois and Everett Ray are inside players, and William Douglas and Elijah Landrum are guards.

Unfortunately, Agau has suffered from an infection and has not been able to practice to any great extent.  He has made very brief appearances in the last three games, but is a long way from being healthy and in shape to play starter minutes.

Agau’s absence has opened the door for Chargois and Ray.  Chargois grabbed the bull by the horns, scoring 14 points with nine rebounds in the first game.  He continues to start and gets the lion’s share of the inside minutes, but both have shown tremendous poise and presence.  Jankovich says that Chargois grew late, so was a guard as a youngster and has guard skills.  He is especially proficient at shooting the three ball, which makes him a matchup nightmare for opponents

Emelogu talked about the dimension Chargois brings to the game, “He can shoot the ball.  He can score in bunches. After the Arizona game, we started calling him ‘microwave’.  He can heat up the game scoring the ball so much.  He brings a very tough matchup for opposing teams, because he can pop it for a three.”

The Agau injury may have been a blessing in disguise.

Douglas and Landrum seem to improve literally every game.  The big scores against lesser teams has made a good number of minutes available – quality minutes on the floor with the team’s leading players, not just throwaway minutes when the bench is cleared late in games.  Consequently, all four freshmen have their feet solidly on the ground.

Certainly, many fans thought after losing three NBA quality players from last year’s team that this edition of the Mustangs would take a step back from the last four years of winning at least 25 games.  Not so fast!  The four upper class veterans are playing to their expected level.  Agau will at some point be healthy enough to be a significent contributor.  The freshmen are solidly in the playing rotation.  Jahmal McMurray, another transfer who is a very good player, will be eligible to play later this month.  No decision has been finalized on McMurray as to whether he’ll play this season or red shirt to give him two more full years of eligibility, but as good as this team is shaping up to be, he likely plays.

A year ago, the Mustangs were 4-3 in November.  At that point, there were definitely thoughts among close followers of the team that the Mustangs would be fortunate to make the NIT.  Last year’s team was in many ways similar to this year’s team.  They were missing three All-Conference quality players, including one All-American – Nic Moore, Jordan Tolbert and Markus Kennedy.  Much of November was making the new players mesh.  We all know how last year worked out.  The Mustangs lost just two more games after that 4-3 start and set the school record for wins in a season.

That’s not to suggest that this team will do the same.  However, this team has more depth than last year’s.  It’s very talented.  Mustang fans should fully expect this year’s team to contend for the AAC championship and make the NCAA Tournament.

There is perhaps no more important stretch of the schedule than the next two games.  The Mustangs host Southern Cal Saturday, and travel to Ft. Worth to play TCU next Tuesday in their first pure road game of the season.  The Trojans are 14th in the AP and 18th in the Coaches poll, while TCU is 23rd in the AP.  It’s a great opportunity for these Mustangs to start December with wins that will make a difference when the NCAA selection committee finalizes the field next March.

There is for sure excitement for the USC game.  It’s the highlight of the non-conference Moody schedule.  The Trojans accounted for two of last year’s five losses including the one that eliminated them from the NCAA Tournament.

“They’re a very difficult team to prepare for,” Jankovich said.  “We’re almost a whole new team.  They’re their same whole same team.  It’s certainly not a rematch. They’re all back, and we’ve got three guys back.”

The Trojans return eight of their first nine players from last year.  It’s definitely a game the Mustangs badly want to avenge last year’s two losses.  Emelogu speaks for all the players when he said, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t amped up more for this game than other games.”

As for the team itself after the first month of play, Jankovich added, “(I’m feeling) very good.  I’m really pleased.  I like our progress.  I think we’re much better today than we were a month ago.  Hopefully, a month from now we’ll be saying we’re a much better team a month from now.  I’ll be surprised if we don’t just keep walking up the stairs.”

Larry Brown built a culture with the SMU program based on playing tough defense, sharing and taking care of the ball.  He always said it would be nice to rebound too.  That mind-set has been passed down from players like Nic Moore to Milton and Foster, who have in turn passed it down to this year’s freshmen.  It’s a formula for not only a great season, but a great program year after year.


*     A survey of six Las Vegas betting lines Saturday morning have the Mustangs favored to beat USC by 2-1/2 to 4 points.



BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The SMU Mustangs football team completed the regular season with a 41-38 win over Tulane last Saturday afternoon before a Ford Stadium crowd of 14,209.  The Mustangs’ offense was again steller hitting their average points per game.  The defense muddled through most of the game, but kept the Green Wave from scoring on their final two possessions to secure the win.

The game came down to the very last play.  SMU re-took the lead with a 50 yard touchdown drive that took five minutes off the clock.  The Green Wave got the ball back with 2:16 remaining, and quickly drove into the red zone.  A pass interfenrence call put Tulane on the SMU one yard line.  On third and one with nine seconds remaining, the Green Wave said “no” to a field goal that would tie the score and send the game to overtime and opted instead to go for the win.

Quarterback Jonathan Banks took the snap in the shotgun formation and ran around right end.  Junior linebacker Kyran Mitchell made the tackle for SMU very close to the goal line.  The controversial referee’s call spotted the ball just short of a touchdown, and the video review did not overturn the call.  That was the game as time expired on the play.

SMU finishes 7-5 for the regular season, including 6-1 at home and 4-4 in conference.  The Mustangs will learn next Sunday, December 3, which bowl they will be heading off to play.  Tulane finished at 5-7.  The stop at the goal line ended their season, unless they sneak in as a 5-7 team based on academics.

SMU quarterback Ben Hicks had another big day completing 24 of 33 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns.  He now sits in a tie atop the SMU record book in touchdown passes completed with 51 in just two seasons.  The 32 he threw this year are the most thrown in a season by an SMU quarterback.  He threw for more than 3,000 yard this season and is third in SMU career passing yardage with 6,372 yards.

Courtland Sutton went over the 1,000 yard mark in receiving yardage by racking up 107 yards on six catches.  It was the 14th 100-yard game of his career.  Sutton is a junior eligibility-wise, but plans to make himself available for next spring’s NFL draft.  It is speculated that he will be a first round pick.

Trey Quinn caught six passes for 139 yards, as he too went over the 1,000 yard mark for the season.  He may well join Sutton in volunteering early for the NFL draft.

Xavier Jones rushed for 38 yards on nine carries to scootch over the 1,000 yard mark at 1,019.

So the bottom line for the SMU offense is a quarterback that threw for more than 3,000 yards, two receivers that caught passes for more than 1,000 yards each, and 1,000 yard rusher.  No wonder they averaged 40 points per game.

The coaching carousel as predicted was rapidly spinning after this weekend’s games.  In the “Power Five” conferences, coaches were axed at Texas A&M, Arkansas, Nebraska and Arizona State by Monday afternoon.  Gary Anderson resigned at Oregon State.  The vacancies at UCLA, Florida and Mississippi have been filled, though Dan Mullin opened up the Mississippi State job when he hopped to Florida. Tennessee thought they had a new coach - Greg Schiano, but alumni protests forced the administration to rescind their offer.

At this point, Chad Morris has not been seriously linked to any of the Power Five vacancies, though he is supposed to meet with Tennesse officials on Wednesday.

The two hot names among non-power five head coaches are Scott Frost at Central Florida and Mike Norvill at Memphis.  Frost is likely to get the Nebraska job, the school where he played in the 90′s.  Frost and Norvill face each other this Saturday in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

The Texas Tech job would have probably been the best fit for Morris with his Texas high school coaching ties for recruiting, but Tech is bringing Cliff Kingsbury back after the Red Raiders upset Texas this past weekend.

MEN’S SOCCER:  The SMU Men’s Soccer season came to an end Saturday evening in Cary, North Carolina.   The Mustangs were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament when they lost to North Carolina 2-0 to end their season at 17-3-1.


*     The Mustangs wore solid black uniforms against Tulane – black pants and jerseys with red numbers and red helmets for the first time.



BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The SMU football team lost to Memphis last Saturday 66-45.  The offense obviously showed up, but the defense simply could not come up with the stops needed to win.  Memphis scorched the Mustangs’ defense for the embarassing total of 664 total yards.  It was a balanced attack as they put up 333 rushing yards and 331 passing yards.

SMU scored the first 10 points, but Memphis answered with 24 points on their next four possessions, and the Mustangs never got closer than seven points over the balance of the game.  The loss was SMU’s third in a row and sank their season record to 6-5, and their conference record to 3-4, with a game remaining in the regular season.

This Saturday, the Mustangs host Tulane on Senior Day.  17 SMU seniors will be playing their final home game.  The Green Wave is 5-6, so needs the win to gain bowl eligibility.  They are fresh off a home win over Houston, so come into the game with momentum, as well as motivation.

SMU wants to end their three game losing streak and take some momentum to their bowl game.  Certainly, all three games on the current losing streak were against good teams.  Two were ranked and the other was ranked earlier in the season.  Two were on the road.

For sure this season represents progress for the program even with the current losing streak.  They are bowl eligible for the first time since 2012, and wins in Saturday’s game and the bowl game would make the final record 8-5, which is a quantum leap forward from last season’s 5-6.  The Mustangs still have much to play for.

The coaching carousel is going to spin at warp speed after Saturday’s games.  There are already a number of vacant head coaching positions in power five conferences including Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and U.C.L.A.  More are rumored to become vacant soon, like Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Arkansas.  Also, the football recruiting signing date has moved up to December 20 from the first Wednesday in February.  Schools will want to get a coach in place quickly after this weekend’s games so that the new coach can have impact on this year’s recruiting class.

Chad Morris has been mentioned as a candidate for almost every position that has already become vacant.  He has done nothing to discourage the speculation, and even some players have mentioned that it has become a distraction to the team.  Morris, who was plucked from Clemson where he was offensive coordinator, has a keen game offensive mind.  This year’s team is averaging 40 points per game.  Certainly, he has the program moving in the right direction.

SMU has stretched to keep Morris in the fold.  Morris’s salary exceeds $2 million annually, making him the highest paid head coach in any conference besides the power five.  He also makes more than many coaches in power five conferences.   He is afforded a handsome lifestyle with a Highland Park residence.

Morris definitely pursed the Baylor job when it was available last year.  In so doing, he alienated some SMU supporters.  Baylor has significant problems from the previous regime that are still to be addressed.  If he was that adamant about taking the Baylor job with all the problems they are facing, he surely will want to jump this year if an opportunity presents itself.

Mustang fans should know quickly with the expected flurry of activity next week.  If Morris does leave, it’s assumed he will depart immediately for his new job and not coach SMU in their bowl game.  It’s entirely possible that this Saturday’s game against Tulane will be his last as head coach of SMU.

As for a replacement, early speculation has SMU looking within.  Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock is a candidate, but he came with Morris from Clemson and may well join him if he leaves.  Jeff Traylor, the running backs coach, is the other name mentioned among the current staff.  Stay tuned.

MEN’S SOCCER:  The NCAA did not do the Mustangs any favors in seeding the tournament.  48 teams are selected.  16 get first round byes, while the other 32 play each other with the 16 winners facing a team that had a bye.  The Mustangs were ranked 10th in the nation at season’s end, so expected to be one of the 16 teams receiving first round byes.  They weren’t.

They played a first round game last week beating Central Arkansas to advance.  The win earned them a trip to Georgetown, the 14 seed.  They beat the Hoyas 2-1 last Sunday afternoon in double overtime to advance to the third round.  They will face three seed North Carolina on Saturday at 6:00 PM (Eastern) in Cary, North Carolina.

The Mustangs’ record is 17-2-1.  That’s the most wins for the program since 2006.