Friday, September 30, 2005

Woohoo!

Got a big Friday night planned! Put the kids to bed, my wife settles down with a nice bottle of wine...and I install the new hard drive into my home computer that finally came in the mail. This should allow me to fix all my computer problems.

QB and other Deck Chair Shuffling

It is easy to blame SMU policies for everything that is wrong with SMU football. But it isn't entirely accurate either.

Here is a brief timeline of this week's QB comments from the head coach Phil Bennett:

9/24-Jerad Romo starts against A&M, plays most of the game.

9/26-Quarterback change possible at SMU

9/29-Bennett: SMU QB status has changed again (Romo to start)

9/30-QB Eckert, WR Lowery, OL Urbanus start for SMU

If you lost track that is Romo-Eckert-Romo-Eckert, three QB changes in the span of seven days. Don't forget that Eckert started the season.

In other news, Bobby Chase, SMU's leading receiver, made empassioned quotes that get picked up by a West Virginia newspaper. And then it is announced that Bobby Chase, SMU's leading receiver, has been benched. I will remind everyone that Chase led the team in receiving yards and was the offensive MVP last season. He is the second highest offensive scorer for SMU this year. But he gets benched in favor of Devin Lowry. Must be something in practice, becuase against Tulane, Lowry had two catches for 37 yards (18.5 avg.) and Chase had three catches for 77 yards (29.0 avg.).

Oh, and three-star recruit Avery Cleveland left the team after four games this season. Fantastic. Guy probably would have started next year.

Prediction:
Marshall is favored by 11.5. Expect them to cover. In losses, this year, SMU loses by an average of 28 points. Last year, it was 33 points. I guess that is an improvement. Even including the double digit TCU win, SMU averages 18.25 fewer points than its opponent.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

My Letter to Cowlishaw (an empashioned response)

Nice shot across the bow, but please, next time aim straight for the hull. The ship is sinking anyway.

I still go to every SMU home game. I will probably try and find a bar that has CSTV and watch the SMU-Marshall game, or cave and buy the directv sports package so I can watch it at home. I huddle next to the radio and listen to games when there is no TV as if I lived in the 1930s.

Copeland's single achievement was the construction of Ford Stadium, done at an unprecedented time of SMU fund-raising where many SMU alums were giving away cash left and right as evidenced by the other new construction on campus. He may have had a vision, but he got lucky and help from a brilliant fund-raiser for an SMU President in Turner.

This goes beyond Cavan, Dement and Bennett. If you look at the record of SMU coaches during Copeland's tenure, those that are successful, Coach Hyndman in particular, were hired before Copeland came to SMU. The loan exception is arguably Men's golf coach Jay Loar who reached the NCAA's last year. By the way, Coach Tubbs' season was disappointing last year and this year will be no different with the academic ineligibility of Brian Hopkins. And the local basketball recruiting that Tubbs was brought in for has not panned out as all but one top recruiting prospect (Darrell Arthur) has committed elsewhere; I fully expect Arthur to commit elsewhere by the end of October.

In 2002, a "Commitment" was announced. That "Commitment" was little more than a $20,000,000.00 fund-raising effort that has been an abject failure. They have been trying to raise money for a new facade for Moody Colosseum for years and a practice facility, yet there has been no announcement because Copeland cannot raise the money.

In 1995, Kathy Harasta wrote that Cavan may be SMU's last head coach. She was wrong only because SMU built a beautiful football stadium, which breathed new life into SMU football. SMU football is once again on life support. Whatever momentum was created by building Ford Stadium and beating Kansas in that first game is gone. There are a precious few fans left.

I understand that SMU is not Nebraska or Notre Dame and must give a coach time turn a program around. I understand the benefit of patience. But at some point, with two senior quarterbacks and 22 returning starters, I expect to see improvement. SMU still has an inept offense, a weak defense and incompetent special teams. The only way to describe the performance against Tulane is lethargic. I planned on giving Bennett five years because I expected SMU to play better in 2005. With the exception of a game against TCU and a quarter against A&M, there has been zero evidence of improvement as exemplified by less than 50 net passing yards against Tulane.

But this isn't about Bennett. It is about Copeland. And it is about SMU. SMU needs to do what is necessary to legitimately compete at the college level. SMU needs to emulate its national and traditional rivals, and its chief rival TCU in particular. Copeland has been ineffective in leading SMU athletics in that direction. Copeland has been ineffective is bringing about the necessary changes to SMU admissions policies, the curriculum and the budget.

Whether you believe Bennett should be fired next week, next month or next year, you must believe that Jim Copeland cannot be responsible for that decision. More importantly, Jim Copeland cannot be responsible for hiring his successor. I don't know about the alumni that cut the checks, but the alumni that buy the tickets have completely lost confidence in Jim Copeland.

Copeland must be relieved of his duties. His successor must drag SMU, its board of trustees, its faculty and even its alumni, kicking and screaming into the modern world that is college athletics.

Required Reading

Tim Cowlishaw chimes in all things SMU football today. Finally, someone suggests Copeland may not be the man for the job. If you read the article, Cowlishaw lays the foundation, dismisses the myths and asks the question. The foundation- SMU has been losing for 17 years and four head coaches. The myth debunked -it is all the death penalty's fault. The question-Why? And How?

I hope the decision makers read the article and take it this way. Why is SMU not any good? Who is responsible? How does this get fixed?

Where Cowlishaw is wrong, however, is he won't call for Copeland's head this year. You cannot suggest (and he does at least hint) that Bennett should be fired if he doesn't get to four wins and then say Copeland should stay on. Copeland has to go before a new coach is hired. Has to. Has to. No one will have any faith in any coach hired by Copeland at this point. At least Cowlishaw points that out.

As they say, "Read the whole thing."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

From the "Be Careful What You Wish For" Department

All right, so a lot of people want Copeland kicked to the curb. I think 11 years is enough time to show something. And Copeland has shown very little to me other than a very pretty, but nearly empty building five or six times a year.

But....

Hiring a new AD would fall to Turner. As luck would have it, Turner's only AD hire at Ole Miss is currently under fire and may get the ax. In 1995, Turner hired Pete Boone to be AD. Boone later left for the private sector and returned three years later. Ole Miss alums are not happy with Boone's decision to fire David Cutcliffe and hire Ed Orgeron, who has started 1-2 and got beat by Wyoming at home. Rumor is Boone may get sacked.

It would be too easy for Turner to hire his former AD from his former school.

Wouldn't it be coincidental if Boone inexplicably left Ole Miss, a school with good tradition that he has numerous ties to, for SMU, a school currently in the dumps he has no connection to. Why is it coincidental? Copeland inexplicably left Virginia, a school with good tradition that he had numerous ties to, for SMU, a school that was in the dumps and had no connection to. From time to time, you hear that Copeland was being quietly shown the door at Virginia. I will be a little disappointed if that happens again.

Still, I don't know Pete Boone. He might be great. He might have no interest in a job that isn't available at the moment.

QB Change?

I am scratching my head over the note in today's DMN.
Coach Phil Bennett said a quarterback change is possible and that he's considering simplifying the spread offense.

Trying to figure out what that means. It either means back to Eckert or ... someone else. We can probably rule out Ashton Nixon and the "runnin' with the 'stangs" kid.

That means Phillips, I guess. Or does it mean Willis? Oh, Lord, I hope Bennett isn't thinking of pulling the redshirt off Willis. That would be a sign of desperation. Both Willis and Phillips jives well with the "simplifying the spread offense" comment.

Simplifying the spread offense makes sense. The SMU offense is unnecessarily complicated. Ditch the weird motion plays. Ditch the continual lining up running backs at the wide receiver position. Ditch the swinging gate on extra points. These things aren't fooling anybody other than our own players.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Football Scoop

Football Scoop:

We hear the rumblings are very loud at Temple, SMU, Buffalo, San Diego State and La Tech (this week's game vs NMSU is very BIG)

Still Down (and so is SMU)

To give you an idea how bad my computer problems are, this is the 3rd time I have tried to post something saying that I am still alive and that my computer still isn't. Won't bore you with details, but it involves "hard drive", "crash" and "data recovery." I could just swap out the hard drive, but the damn computer is still under warranty so I don't want to buy one on my own; I want HP to fix it or send me a new one in the mail.

I was at the Tulane game and I am peeved. What a lackadaisical effort all around. What a futile effort on special teams and offense. I sure would like to see what this defense could do with 50-50 time of possession and decent field position. The offense, make no mistake, has sucked for every minute of Phil Bennett's tenure.

It will be interesting to see what happens against Marshall. I expect them to get drilled. Maybe if I am more negative, they will win again.
I am still dealing with massive computer problems. Something about "crashing" and "hard drive" and "data recovery" from the failed backup. Now, I could swap out the hard drives pretty easily, but the damn computer is still under warranty, which involves shipping the damn thing back to the manufacturer.

Couple of brief thoughts on Tulane:
1) This team was totally unprepared. They just weren't ready to play. They didn't show up. How can anyone argue otherwise?

2) The offense is regressing from peak in the second half of the TCU game. And that offense was working because the coaches cut out the mickey mouse bullshit and lined up and ran the football. This team does not have the personnel to run the ridiculous offense that is in place. This team cannot go 4-wide because the o-line cannot block. IMO, this team needs to line up in the power I with two tight ends.

Bottom 10 in total offense; bottom 15 in passing yards per game; bottom 10 in passing yards per game; bottom 10 in completion percentage; I was stunned to see that there are 28 teams that have statistically worse rushing games than SMU; bottom quarter in scoring.

3) Special teams has to be the worst I have ever seen. Fumbles; bonehead plays; penalties; the stupid swinging gate; missed blocks. We are finding new and creative ways to lose games. And to think, there are several starters playing on special teams. This should not sit well with anybody.

4) You can't tell a damn thing about the defense because the offense and special teams are so inept. It is ridiculous.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Computer Down

My home computer is down. So, I am pretty much screwed for blogging. I can't do much while at work. No clue when I will have it back up and running. I am thrilled with the positive press this program has received this week locally and nationally. Perhaps Jim Copeland can use the AD's Notepad to scribble down the following: "Note to self: winning yields positive press and fan excitement."

But for laughs, here is a classic funny:



What an a-hole.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Coffee with the Coach

Everybody show up tomorrow morning for the Coach's breakfast!!!

I am glad we play A&M

I am glad SMU plays A&M. I am glad SMU plays A&M on Saturday. I am glad SMU plays A&M a week after beating TCU. I cannot think of another team on SMU's schedule I would rather SMU play this week than A&M.

TCU beat OU. TCU thought they were bad ass. TCU didn't take SMU seriously. TCU got beat.

Imagine what would happen if SMU played anybody else this week? What if SMU played ECU? What if SMU played Tulane? What if SMU played Tulsa?

Anybody but A&M and the players would not be taking things too seriously. They'd go through the motions, but you'd hear the same stuff from Bennett that you heard from Patterson: team wasn't focused and it was a bad week of practice.

But A&M is A&M. The players know they have to focus if they want to compete. They know the game will be tough. The players know that if they want to win, they will have to play the best game of their lives. Add to that the fact that Bennett is returning to his alma matter.

I love it.

Non-Football C-USA Note

In first contest, the Women's Volleyball Team won SMU's first ever in-conference game.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sunday, September 11, 2005

WHAT A GAME!!!




Wow. All is right with the world.

What to take from this win:
1. Romo gets the majority of the snaps from now on.
2. Martin gets the majority of the carries.
3. I say we use the spread offense no more than 50% of the time. We have the personnel for a far more traditional offense.
4. We defended the option pretty well; too bad Gunn is slow as dirt.
5. Good game=good crowd.

The Crowd
I don’t know what got into everybody, but I thought the crowd was great. I was surprised in the number of SMU fans and the relatively few TCU fans. I thought there would be 20k wearing purple. My pregame trip to Snuffers led me to believe that would be the case as it was filled with TCU fans.

DeMyron Martin
Adrian Peterson v. TCU: 22 caries for 63 yards (long 11), 1 TD
DeMyron Martin v. TCU: 26 caries for 118 yards (long 13), 1 TD

‘nuff said.

Special Teams
90% of the special teams problems can be solved with better deep snapping. We can’t make those mistakes again.

Romo
I always was more of a Romo fan than an Eckert fan. Romo can be a better passer, but he needs the snaps in practice. Pleas give his 75% of the snaps this week. Pleeaase.

What SMU needs to do NOW.

Celebrate. That is right. SMU needs to celebrate this win. This win is important. SMU can make it more so with a little marketing. One of the problems with the Kansas win in 2000 was that it was quickly forgotten.

So what does SMU do? They got a skillet; use it. I’d have Bennett out in front of Dallas Hall on Tuesday morning serving breakfast to the student body. Cheesy? Yes. But it is a good picture and it would be covered. Remind the students and the fans how much fun Saturday night was and how much fun September 24th is going to be. Cheesy? Yes. But it is a good picture and it would be covered and shown on the 6 and 10 o’clock news- I guarantee it.

Second, SMU needs to be planning for Tulane now. Holding no illusions about A&M and the two weeks they have to stew about losing to Clemson and prepare for this game at home, we can maintain some momentum. Beat Tulane and get back to .500.

Partner with the Ticket. Get them out in front of the freshman quad from 6 to 8 again. Turn it into a benefit for the Red Cross; drop off donations; supplies; you name it.

Third, you have to get the stupid thundersticks out to the fans again. And again. Every game. It has to be done.

Funniest sign from Saturday.
I laughed out loud when I saw a sign that said “SMU-TCU Football Parking $10.” And the TCU fans were turning in. I have been going to games at Ford Stadium for six years now and never paid for parking. Everybody I have told this too that missed the game laughed.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Prediction and Dealing with the Negativity

Prediction:
Saturday night will be an unmitigated disaster. TCU will cover the spread. TCU, who couldn't gain 70 yards rushing, will run for at least 150 and another 250 yards in the air.

I'll be there. I am bringing a friend who has never been to a SMU game before. I doubt we make a good first impression.

I have real reservations about how this is going to look on "national TV." If SMU fans wear red, they will blend into the seats. The TCU fans (and there will be a lot of them) will wear white and purple and stand out. This may look really bad.

As I said before, "My least favorite memory of Ford Stadium was sitting in the rain against TCU in 2000. TCU had already accepted its bowl bid; there was nobody from SMU there; Coach Fran was auditioning for Alabama; for the TCU fans that greatly outnumbered the SMU fans, it was one big party. Saturday, with the possible exception of the rain, is going to be a repeat performance."

Of course, as I said on the message board, "If we beat TCU, a lot of us are going to look like real assholes."

Now, regarding my negativity, I call them like I see them. I'd be positive if I could. If there was something I could post on this blog that would inspire the team or the fans or get SMU a recruit, I would do it. Gladly. Watch me.

Know something I don't? Drop me a line.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

De-Redshirt?

"SMUnick" says there is a rumor that Bennett will be playing more freshman than he planned before the season.

I am not saying I heard anything; I am not saying I didn't. I am just commenting on a rumor that I may or may not have heard also. I wasn't sworn to secrecy or anything.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Moment

I'd like to take a moment to direct you to some photos from the Clemson-A&M game.

And you tell me that SMU can't compete with the best of them in college football?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sefko's quote from Tuesday's DMN Sportsblog

I frequently peruse the DMN's SportSay Blog. Here is a quote from Eddie Sefko, the Mavs beat writer:

Baylor nation????
After one win against a team that couldn't beat a snare drum, suddenly there's a "Baylor Nation?"

A month from now, when the losing streak hits three or four, there won't even be a Baylor County.


Want to know what is worse? Sefko is an SMU grad. Great.

SID's Post-game Press Release

I do hope everyone clicks thisLINK and reads the press release and recap of the Baylor game. Here is a taste:
Baylor appeared on the verge of giving it back by fumbling a punt at its 19, but the hapless Mustangs - who haven't beaten a nonconference foe since 2000 - managed only a field goal.


FYI, one of the definitions of "hapless" is:
adj : deserving or inciting pity; "a hapless victim";


Not saying it isn't accurate. I am just suggesting it isn't the best term for the SID to use.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Dazed and Confused

Sorry I am late. I am just baffled. I wrote a bunch of stuff Sunday and deleted it. I wrote some more and deleted that too. I can’t go scorched earth on this team yet. Though, I am tempted to.

Here are a couple of quotes from the Dallas Morning News:

If you want to end a long, long road losing streak, come to Ford Stadium.


…the Mustangs' defense tired, and the offense stalled with ineffective play.


For the game, SMU had 270 yards in total offense and doesn't appear to be an improving team in the spread offense. Bennett said he is committed to the spread offense under coordinator Rusty Burns.


They drew 12 flags. They turned over the football twice. They appeared to mismanage the clock at times. They should be better next weekend when they meet SMU, a team that not long ago measured up as their rivals. Now, the only thing TCU and SMU football have in common is Interstate 30. Competitively, they are light years apart.

Indeed, none of TCU's shortcomings Saturday seemed a result of it being rattled in a place, and against a team, that usually strikes fear in most opponents. This is out of SMU's league, for example. The Longhorns in recent years seem to quake at the mere sight of the Sooners coming down the Cotton Bowl tunnel.

As an aside, Blackistone, you can kiss my ass. Don’t praise SMU’s academic standards once a year and then write this crap.

The Quarterbacks.
Eckert’s drives:
Drive 1:
0-2; punt
Drive 2:
0-2; yanked; Romo comes in and TD.
Drive 3:
0-1; turnover on downs
Drive 4:
0-3; punt (punt dropped and SMU recovers)
Drive 5:
0-2; field goal
Drive 6:
5-7 and a sack; TD

The boxscore shows Eckert as 6-18 though I cant figure out where that sixth completion was. The guy was 0-10 and everything he threw went over the receiver’s head. Eckert’s performance was a disaster. I can’t for the life of me understand why he went out on the field after Baylor fumbled that punt return.

It doesn’t matter what Eckert and Romo do next week, the quarterback situation is the same as it was last year. Which is the same as every year of Bennett’s tenure. I’d say Romo better start, but does it really matter?

The Offense:
Correct me if I am wrong, but we had Spring ball, right? I could have sworn I read a press release that said they were practicing in the Spring. Obviously, the defense got a lot of work, because the offense looks like it was shelved the day after the UTEP game and finally taken out of storage on late Friday afternoon. “Gosh, Rusty. Maybe we should, you know, practice a few plays before the game tomorrow, or something.”

The offense, when it was successful, was the same offense we ran when Phillips was the quarterback as a true freshman the last five games of 2003. Ultra conservative, hand off or make a read, then tuck the ball and run. The spread offense requires receivers, which apparently weren’t on the field until late fourth quarter.

Though I missed the halftime interview, Bennett apparently said they were going to run it down their throats. They actually stuck with it according to the play by play, but that is not what I remember. I guess I recall Eckert’s futility as being indicative of the entire second half.

The Defense.
How do you blame the defense? The defense got tired. The defense got tired because the offense couldn’t stay on the field for longer than 90 seconds at a time in the second half. I was also led to believe we would be rotating defensive lineman, which never happened the second half.

Going for it on 4th Down.
I got into a discussion about this with BrianTinBigD. I don’t have that much of a problem with it. At the end of the half, Baylor kicked a 47 yard field goal. They hadn’t moved the ball all game. I think the play called was stupid. It looked unorganized and the players looked confused. And that was the problem.

Next week.
Next week is going to suck. My least favorite memory of Ford Stadium was sitting in the rain against TCU in 2000. TCU had already accepted its bowl bid; there was nobody from SMU there; Coach Fran was auditioning for Alabama; for the TCU fans that greatly outnumbered the SMU fans, it was one big party. Saturday, with the possible exception of the rain, is going to be a repeat performance.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Dooby's Baylor Joke of the Day

Not sure I see the "Baylor" joke here, but I get the point.



And Dooby wanted me to post this:

Spread; Predictions

Conference USA is 1-3 in games so far this year. 0-3 against I-A Competition.

As predicted, Eckert will start. He gets the majority of snaps in practice; he went to Conference USA media day. Bennett says it is close and both will play.

The line for Saturday against Baylor has been drifting down froma high of Baylor -4 to Baylor -1.5. The line itself is designed to promote the most betting possible. It is not a predictor of the actual outcome. However, barring a major injury, the line only moves to keep the betting relatively balanced on both sides. That could mean the majority of the money is moving in the direction of the Mustangs.

Unfortunately, while there is no major injury, the speculation is the line dropped because Baylor had a chunk of their team sit out with strep throat. This article bears that out. The line is unlikely to move again because of the few people betting on this game.

I'd love to not be in the prediction business. but here is the official season prediction. Four wins-Baylor (yes, Baylor); Rice; ECU; and Tulsa. That is what my head tells me. Something keeps telling me SMU will win five games, but I have no idea why. And since I can't point out the game that I think they will win, I won't. I could say the Tulane game, but right now, I don't know if there will be a Tulane game or what kind of team that will be.

And four wins is enough for Bennett to keep his job. Yeah. But I wonder what happens if the total is three? Then it is decision time.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Ocho




Dooby's Baylor Joke of the Day

Question: How is the Baylor football team like a possum?
Answer: They play dead at home and get killed on the road.

Thursday stuff

Does USC Quarterback Matt Leinart really need a bodyguard?

QB Decision today. Does anybody doubt it is Eckert? Barring injury, I think Eckert gets 11 starts. Of course, if I am wrong, I look like an idiot.

Hey, the offense looks better this year!!! I think we would all expect it to be. Nearly every starter is back. Second year of a new offense. Second year for the two quarterbacks. Improved size on the line. Improved talent at the skill positions. If there is hope for the season, this is it.

And yet another note that a player is pushing for a starting job. This time, it is the lead singer of Submerge, Charlie Berry, who is battling Adrian Haywood for the starting nose tackle spot. I don't know what to think of this, really. We just found out Haywood was starting a month ago.

Is this a must win game for SMU? I was asked this question yesterday. "There are no must win games." Yup. "They all are must win games." Yup. And this game is a must win game for SMU and Coach Bennett. This is the best chance for a win in September since Navy in 2002 (which was an unmitigated disaster).

Win this game and TCU looks winnable; Tulane looks winnable. All the other games mentioned in my best case scenario look winnable. This team will have some amount of confidence as opposed to getting drubbed by the usual teams that have filled out our nonconference schedule the past few years. That confidence translates into a better team in conference play. I really believe this.

Lose this game, and like many have said, you are staring 0-6 in the face. Though I do think it is a fair question to ask what kind of Tulane team comes into Ford Stadium (if at all) at the end of September. I think recruiting is shot if this happens. I think the needle on the meter for my "worst case scenario" begins to move from plausible to probable.

That being said, I love the fact that in the Spring there were several Baylor players quoted to the effect that this was a guaranteed win for Baylor and they were going to start out 2-0. I think that is great. The only thing I love more are the SMU players quoted a week ago as saying Baylor is the most important game of the year. I think that mindset benefits SMU.