SMU: Death Penalty in 1987, Life Support in 2014
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Once again, not all is cool in Mustang-land.
- Coach June Jones apparently had no choice but to fall on his sword this week, and
- Starting QB Neal Burcham discovered he'd be lost for the season due to an elbow injury.
It doesn't look like either one will be missing to much. SMU is off to an 0-2 start, and even that stat is flattering to deceive.
The Ponies were flattened in Waco to start the season, as Baylor romped to a 45-0 housewarming in their new digs. The Bears are going to ka-rush a fair number of opponents along the way in 2014, so the beatdown wasn't totally unexpected. However, when the Mustangs got suh-mashed, 43-6, at North Texas this past weekend, it wasn't hard to surmise that something was up.
And that would be Coach Jones' time at SMU. The admins can claim to the contrary, but there's no question he was pushed out:
Ironically, Brown credits Jones for keeping him on campus in the midst of a rough start in his first season there.
As luck would have it, Texas A&M is SMU's next opponent, on Sat 20 Sep after this weekend's bye. Kevin Sumlin's crew could easily run up a score that would match the total of the damage inflicted upon the Ponies in the past two games.
Southern Methodist went to great lengths to pull Jones away from Honolulu, where he'd achieved demi-god status at the University of Hawaii. At the Rainbow Warriors' peak, they ran-&-shot their way to a 12-0 season in 2007 before getting a major dose of reality when the Georgia Bulldogs laid a 43-10 hit on them.
But SMU had seen enough. After two decades of wandering in the Division I wilderness after the scandal that caused their richly-deserved death penalty, Mustang admins and alums were willing to promise anything to get their man.
It worked for a while. But, just as Hawaii could see the viability in upgrading their football facilities and assistant coaches' salaries -- the true reason why Jones left his alma mater -- the small, private school that SMU is couldn't provide the revenue streams beyond rich boosters that the eventual Power Five conferences demand. The AAC is their ceiling.
The telling irritant was Jones looking outside Texas for recruits. With tough competition for the elite high schoolers, he felt he had no choice. But with every loss, the state's prep coaches were tiring of hearing from families of their so-called three-star players why they couldn't at least get a ride on the Pony. In essence, then, the coaching fraternity began to sun SMU altogether.
So this week, the inevitable happened. Line forms on the right.