Thursday, August 31, 2006

From the "Everybody hates the Dallas Morning News" Department

If you didn't know, Belo is going through budget cuts and is trimming the payroll by some 80 employees at the Dallas Morning News.

Like everything else, there is a blog for this sort of thing. The employee buyouts are across the board, including sports.

Sports coverage is a likely cut. Pro hockey and baseball won't be as emphasized as pro basketball and football. College sports coverage could be trimmed to a few schools. A lot more high school coverage could move to the web and follow the non-staff written example set by the Neighbors sections.

Hmmmm....."trimmed to a few schools." I think this is concerning, but mostly overreacting. The truth is "dedicated" coverage will probably be cut to a handful of schools. One assumes UT coverage will not decrease. I think there will always be coverage of SMU. The question is whether the SMU beat will merge with other beats? Will the OU beat merge with the Baylor beat and the Tech beat?

Despite the fact that I think the author is overstating things, if you are a fan of any school but Texas, I think you should ought to be somewhat concerned.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Predicting SMU’s nonconference record

Here is SMU’s nonconference record in the 10 years since leaving the SWC:

1996 1-2
1997 1-2
1998 1-3
1999 1(I-AA)-3
2000 1-3
2001 0-3
2002 0-4
2003 0-4
2004 0-3
2005 1-2

Six wins in 35 opportunities. 17.1% Pretty sad.

SMU has not won more than one nonconference game is a season since leaving the SWC.

In six years, SMU won only one nonconference game. In four years, SMU never won a nonconference game, five if you only count I-A games. You have to go back to 1992 before SMU has a winning record in nonconference games; before the death penalty if you on count games against I-A teams.

SMU’s nonconference opponents in those years went 248-176. That is a winning percentage of 58.5%. Only twice did SMU’s nonconference opponents have a combined losing record (1999 and 2000).

Now, this year is different. Using last year’s records, SMU nonconference opponents (excluding Sam Houston State) went 16-17, which is a winning percentage of 48.5%

SMU plays two teams from the Sunbelt Conference. The Sunbelt was 1-27 in nonconference I-A games in 2005. Historically, the Sunbelt is the weakest conference.

Additionally, SMU plays a I-AA team. The historical I-A winning percentage against I-AA teams is 89%. If not for provisional I-A schools transitioning from I-AA to I-A, the percentage would be well over 90%.

I count the game against Texas Tech as a loss. I have discussed this ad nauseum and will not belabor the point. 0-1

I count the game against UNT as a win. Please recall UNT was 2-9 last year. They may be better this year and their fans may be emotionally into a game against SMU, but I believe SMU should win this game. 1-1

I count the game against Sam Houston State as a win. It is at home. The game is the first home game of the year. The percentages are in SMU’s favor. 2-1

I count the game against Arkansas State as a win. Arkansas State was a bowl team last year. This is true. But Arkansas State lost its Quarterback and its top two rushers to graduation. Arkansas State just lost its third leading rusher and projected starter to injury. The game is at home. 3-1

3-1 will be the best start to an SMU season since 1992. It will be the best nonconference record since 1986. If you ask me, this is what I believe will happen. I will be mildly surprised if it doesn’t.

Predicting SMU’s conference record

As bad as SMU has been, here is SMU’s conference record in the 10 years since leaving the SWC:
1996 4-4
1997 5-3
1998 4-4
1999 3-3
2000 2-7
2001 4-4
2002 3-5
2003 0-8
2004 3-5
2005 4-4

32 wins divided by 79 games= 40.5%
39.5% times eight games= 3.24 games average conference wins per season

SMU has finished with fewer than three conference wins just twice in ten years (2000 and 2003).

SMU has finished with more than three conference wins five times.

SMU has finished .500 or better a surprising six out of 10 times.

A .500 conference record six times in the past ten years!?!?! Did you know that? I never realized that.

Could this be a two conference win year (or worse?) Of course, but I think most people agree that this team, at a minimum, has not taken a step backwards.

When publications predict SMU to win five games, I think they are pigeonholing SMU into their preconceived notions or in the case of a couple of publications, I think they are discounting SMU in order to put other schools where they want them to be. Case in point, some publications really want ECU to win. I don’t know why, but I don’t know how else to explain some polls picking them to come in first or second in C-USA East and some picking them last in the conference.

Bottom line is I would bet the farm on three conference wins. I’d bet money in Vegas on four conference wins. I am very tempted to predict five conference wins.

However…. Much has been made about SMU returning most of last year’s team intact. The truth is SMU returns 14 offensive and defensive starters, which tied for seventh most in C-USA, not even the top half. SMU returns 41 lettermen, which is tied with Tulane for the fewest returning lettermen. Add to that a near complete special teams overhaul. Add to that, the fact that there are no first team all C-USA members on offense or defense.

And there is my dilemma. I have set my nonconference win total at three. I am not going to predict fewer than four conference wins. I am not going to predict more than five. I am not going to lie to you. I originally settled on four conference wins; I then changed it to five; then, back to four.

Last year, my head said four wins and my gut said five wins. SMU finshed with five wins. This year, gut says eight total wins and my head says seven total wins. Go with the gut. Finding that fifth conference victory will be tough.

I count the game against Tulane as a win. Tulane had a losing record last year and was in turmoil. I think the turmoil continues and I think the idea that the return to the Super Dome will invigorate the Tulane squad is overblown. I think the confidence built in the nonconference schedule helps the team. I believe SMU should win this game. 4-1

I count the game against UTEP as a loss. UTEP is a good team and well coached. I don’t expect a repeat of last year. The game is on the road. Six weeks out , I expect SMU to lose this game. 4-2.

I count the game against Marshall as a win. I don’t think the CUSA East is substantially better than the West. I think Marshall is treading water. The game was close last year on the road. I expect SMU will bounce back at home. I expect SMU to win this game. 5-2.

I count the game against ECU as a loss, but I could go either way. It really comes down to the fact that ECU is playing at home. Though, it is the fifth straight home game in a weird stretch for ECU. I expect SMU to lose this game. 5-3.

I count the game against UAB as a win. Again, I could go either way on this one. SMU is at home; it is Halloween; I think UAB is in decline. I expect SMU to win this game. 6-3.

I count the game against Houston as a loss. It really comes down to Kolb and the defense being better. I expect SMU to lose this game. 6-4.

I count the game against Tulsa as a win, but I am not sure why. Perhaps it is because the game is at home. Also, I suspect at least one of UTEP, Houston or Tulsa will have a down year- I think it is the nature of parity in Conference USA. I really believe that last statement; one of those teams will falter. I expect SMU to win this game. 7-4.

I count the game against Rice as a win. Rice will improve but Rice will be decimated after its nonconference schedule and Rice simply doesn’t have the personnel to run its offense or defense.. I expect SMU to win this game. 8-4.

So, there you go. Eight wins, five in conference. Odds are that is a tie for second in C-USA West and a near lock at a bowl game. Obviously, I don’t feel real good about picking SMU to beat Tulsa three months ahead of time, so seven wins is a real possibility. Will seven wins get SMU a bowl invite? I am not sure, but I say the odds are less than 50-50.

When was the last time I predicted a winning record? I don’t recall that I ever have. I know I never have on a message board or on this blog. That dates my predictions back to 2001. So take that for what it is worth.

Four kickers and two quarterbacks

Yesterday, I was reading the new College Sports Blog on the DMN website and immediately became disturbed by what I knew would be in today's DMN.

Redshirt freshman Justin Willis will start at quarterback in SMU's season opener against Texas Tech, but coach Phil Bennett said backup Corey Slater could see time in the first half.

Bennett is not planning a rotation of quarterbacks, but he wants Slater, a junior college transfer who has never taken a Division I-A snap, to receive some repetitions.

"It's going to be in the flow of the game," Bennett said.

I don't know what the heck that means and can't reconcile "not planning a rotation of quarterbacks" with "It's going to be in the flow of the game." I guess it means when Bennett's gut says Slater should go out there, Slater will go out there. That is the optimistic view (or maybe that is the pessimistic view, I can't tell). Another possibility is that when SMU is down by 24 in the 4th quarter, Bennett is going to give Slater some time. That is the pessimistic view (or maybe that is the optimistic view, I really can't tell anymore). Who am I kidding, SMU will be up by 24 and Slater will go in for mop up duty! Yeah!!!! "Rainbows, lollipops and ..."

Also, SMU is taking FOUR kickers to Lubbock. Moorstead (punts and fiendgoals); Cunningham (kickoffs);Galloway (backup punter); and Brayden Harris (backup kickoffs). Ryan Wolcott may even kick on short field goals. Look, I get being unsure about your kickers, none of whom have kicked against a live rush, but isn't there something to be said for having confidence in the guys you gave the job to? When people second-guess Phil Bennett, it seems to happen when he is second-guessing himself. Maybe Bennett is right to do this, but this concerns me. I was already concerned about the QB situation and the kicking game, but now I am concerned about the coach.

DeMyron Martin did not practice yesterday because of an abcessed tooth. Or is it the knees, which have been keeping him out of practice before? Level of concern-rising.

Oh, and Texas Tech is gameplanning for Justin Willis.
"We know that he's mobile," linebacker Fletcher Session said. "We're going to scheme him real well and try to keep him in the pocket."

Strangely, this makes me feel better. I don't know why, but my first thought was "Good."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

ESPN's Bottom 10

Thanks to a tip from my second favorite Baylor fan at the Baylor Football Blog, ESPN's Bottom 10 preseason rankings are out. Nary a mention of SMU to be found. Rice is there; NTSU shows up on the waiting list.

Oh, and Arkansas State lost its third leading rusher from last season, the only one returning from last year.

The transfers and what they means

Months ago, I noted a major change in SMU’s academic policies regarding transfer students. I discussed what this meant to athletics. I concluded that the policy changes would make it significantly easier for SMU to recruit transfers in athletics. Now comes word that SMU football has added four Division I-A transfers. The question remains whether this is evidence of the new policy at work.

The four transfers are Luke Bell, a kicker from Fallston, Maryland via Tulane; K.J. Ellis, a linebacker from Arlington Lamar via Texas Tech; Dan Garcy, a linebacker from Danville, California via Arizona; and Chase Kennemer, another linebacker from Arlington Lamar via Texas A&M.

Now, before you get excited, all four were walk-ons at their respective schools. KJ Ellis, however did have Division IA offers before settling down at Texas Tech (the status of those offers when he signed is, however, “unclear”). Chase Kennemer was considered a stud in HS and depending on what you read, had numerous offers or had an offer at A&M but paid his own way to help A&M out; there is also a report that he could have gone to Harvard. Garcy and Bell, we know less about.

There is nothing to suggest whether or not these guys could have gotten into SMU as Freshman; there is nothing to suggest whether or not these guys could have gotten into SMU before the policy changes. However, this is more I-A transfers than in the past few years combined. Also a please recall that SMU had a quarterback ready to transfer to SMU from Northwestern that backed out because of transfer hours.

Maybe this means something; may it doesn’t. However, it is the first evidence we have that SMU policies are changing. We will have to wait for the December signing period to see if anything happens as far as junior college prospects go.

Tuesday before Tech

Leech called his team "soft" and "complacent".

Leach apparently is fed up with numerous players sitting out preseason drills because of minor injuries and with players losing focus on the practice field.

"I'm seeing a level of softness a little bit," Leach said during his weekly news conference. "I think we have a handful of guys that are complacent, a handful of guys that feel like they worked hard in the off-season so business is taken care of. All the other teams work hard in the off-season, too, so all you are is equal to them."

"I've heard all this talk about UTEP and TCU,'' Tech coach Mike Leach said Monday. "SMU beat both of them. I worry about the soundness and just overall play of their team.''

Leach also fired a psychological volley at his own players Monday, calling them soft. During August practices, five of the team's top six offensive linemen as well as skill-position players such as L.A. Reed, Joel Filani and Jarrett Hicks missed practices with injuries.

"Either we have some soft people or we can candy coat it and say we've had the opportunity to work some other people, or maybe there's some combination of both,'' Leach said. "I know that sometimes - not mentioning any names - my idea of being on the field and theirs are sometimes two different things.''

Jr. Wide Receiver Joel Filani followed that up with a denial:

"I don't really know where he's getting that from,'' Filani said. "You know coach Leach: He's always got something to say about something. We're going to go out there and play tough. We don't feel we're soft at all. We're going to go out there Saturday and show what we can do.''

Filani, himself, missed much of two a days.

Oh, dare to dream:
At the end of the game on the TCU radio network, the commentators mentioned that coach Gary Patterson wasn't happy with practice all week. They said after he stopped one practice a second time, Patterson said something like: "Well, you don't want to do it my way, so we'll do it your way this week. But if we don't get the results I want, we'll do it my way next week."

Anyway, last season, I tried to post pictures of coeds fro the various schools SMU played. I tried to find some women from Texas Tech. Let me just say...slim pickings.

Worst Case Scenario

I really didn't want to do a worst case scenario, but I figured that I did one last year and also, if I did a best case, I ought to do a worst case as well. So, here you go.

As an aside, where SMU needs to be is where last year's results of 5-6 is the worst case scenario. I continue to believe that with some effort, SMU can get there.

Just like last year, we could go 0-12!!! Oh, no. WE SUCK AGAIN!!!. Now that that is out of the way, let’s take a look at the realistic worst case scenario for the upcoming season. Now, like the best case scenario, is this my prediction? No. Of course, not.

Let’s leave injuries, suspensions, etc. out of the discussions for the moment. What is the worst SMU can expect?

• Sep. 2-at Texas Tech
I can’t say it any other way, if SMU won this game, I would be shocked. Blowout. 0-1

• Sep. 9-at North Texas
Let’s be honest. SMU has been ducking UNT for several years. Why? Because SMU wasn’t very good. UNT has been begging to play SMU; UNT has a chip on his shoulder. It is an emotional win for UNT. 0-2

• Sep. 16-Sam Houston State
Can I imagine a scenario where Sam Houston State wins? Yes. But it won’t happen. I repeat, it won’t happen. I-A teams that play against I-AA teams win 89% of the time. 1-2

• Sep. 23-Arkansas State
Let’s not forget Arkansas State won the Sunbelt last year and went to a bowl game. 1-3

• Sep. 30-at Tulane
An emotional and revved up Tulane squad thumps a demoralized SMU squad int eh first football game in the Superdome post-Katrina. 1-4

• Oct. 7-at UTEP
A revenge game for a superior UTEP squad against the team that kept them out of the C-USA title game. 1-5

• Oct. 14-Marshall
• Loss.
A repeat of last year’s disappointing last minute loss. 1-6

• Oct. 21-at East Carolina
• Loss.
A repeat of last year’s disappointing defeat. 1-7.

• Oct. 31-UAB
• Loss.
Revenge game part II; with a vengeance. 1-8

• Nov. 11-Houston
• Loss.
Revenge game, Part III: Revenge Harder. 1-9

• Nov. 18-Tulsa
If you have been paying attention, SMU is undefeated in CUSA, which leads to a showdown against Tulsa. SMU plays it close but loses 33-28. 1-10.

• Nov. 25-at Rice
Rice may win a game or two, but not this one. In a scrimmage last weekend, they still ran the ball 70% of the time. There simply isn’t the personnel to put in Todd Graham’s offense. I expect a score much like the 2005 game. 2-10

Again, is this my prediction? No, and don’t pretend it is. In fact, really the idea that there would be only two wins is mind boggling. In truth, I think the worst case scenario is three wins; I just couldn’t identify a third team I was sure SMU would win. But, hey, looking at last year’s worst case scenario, I predicted a win over ECU. Eeeeee.

I’ll just say it. I like Phil Bennett a lot, but the only question if the season played out this way, is between which two games would Phil Bennett be asked to leave. Expectations are high; this result would be unacceptable. And extremely unlikely.

The real prediction tomorrow.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Game Week

Wow. Less than one week before the 2006 season gets underway. That means less than one week until the rematch of my single angriest football moment ever. The Dallas Morning News has the story today.

My opinion on that day are very clear. Leech was running the score up and he knew it. I don't think Leech was comfortable beating lowly SMU by only fourteen. None of the defenses put forth hold any water.

Defense 1: Tech had the score run up on us, too! We got better! Cute, but (a) Tech complained then; (b) both games mentioned involved Tech being unable to beat second and third teamers at the end of the game. Tech had its entire starting lineup in the last minute of the game.

Defense 2: Tech had to throw because that is their offense! In that game, Tech running backs were averaging five yards per carry. Look at Tech's last offensive series against Kansas that year in a game they only won by one point. They started the series in better field position than the SMU game with less time on the clock: Four straight handoffs to the running back. The only difference is that Leech knew there was a chance he could lose if there was a turnover. Since he knew that wasn't possible in the SMU game, he felt free to try and run it up.

The only people that defend classless coaches are classless fans.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Best Case Scenario

Just like last year, we could go 12-0!!! Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now that that is out of the way, let’s take a look at the realistic best case scenario for the upcoming season. Now, is this my prediction? No. Of course, not.

First, let’s review the SMU Football Blog definition of a “winnable game.” A game is a winnable game if the opponent meets one of the following four characteristics:

1. SMU defeated the opponent in the previous year. Why? Because if you beat ‘em once, you can do it again.

2. The opponent finished with a record below .500. Why? Because a team, regardless of conference that did not have a winning record is beatable.

3. The opponent is from a lower division. Why? Scholarship restrictions; smaller budgets; fewer coaches; and the fact that I-A teams that play against I-AA teams win 89% of the time.

4. The opponent is from the Sunbelt conference. Why? While contraversial to pick on an entire conference, the statistics support it. The Sunbelt has a terrible nonconference record, last year winning just one of 28 nonconference contests. Further, the Sunbelt has the worst record against I-AA teams.

So, if you keep that definition of “winnable games” in mind, you will see where this is going quickly.

• Sep. 2-at Texas Tech Loss. Like last year’s A&M game, I can imagine a scenario where SMU pulls this one out. After all, the 2004 contest was far closer than the Texas Tech faithful expected. And, hey, Tech has a new starting quarterback. However, it just ain’t going to happen. The best anyone can realistically hope for is to keep it close. Oh, and I don’t think it is going to be close. The best case scenario for SMU in the Tech game is to keep it close and stay healthy. Nobody wants to hear it, but it is the truth. The only bright spots are a nifty td pass from Willis and one good sustained drive with a heavy dose of Martin who caps it off with a three yard touchdown run. Tech wins 40-14. 0-1

• Sep. 9-at North Texas
Win. 1 of 28. That is the Sunbelt Conference’s nonconference record last year against I-A teams. That is a 4% winning percentage for you math whizes out there. And let us not forget that North Texas wasn’t very good last year, going 2-9, with no win by more than a touchdown and losing each game by an average of 22 points. You aren’t going to believe this, but Willis will throw for 350 yards and two touchdowns in the best passing performance by an SMU quarterback since 2000. SMU wins 34-10.1-1

• Sep. 16-Sam Houston State
Win. I-A beats I-AA 89% of the time. Sam Houston State isn’t even a very good I-AA team. When I get around to doing the worst case scenario, this is still a win. I can’t, in my wildest dreams, imagine losing this game. As I type this, I am reminded that I said the same thing about the ECU game last year, which SMU lost in uninspired fashion. This game will be a tad closer than people would like, but the result is the same as the team rides Martin, Dorsey and Mapps into the endzone no fewer than three times. 2-1

• Sep. 23-Arkansas State Win. 1 of 28. Absent the “Sunbelt Rule” for winnable games, this would be a loss. Arkansas State had a regular season record of 6-5 and went to the New Orleans Bowl. Like most Sunbelt champs, however, without feasting on other Sunbelt teams and going 5-2 in conference, it would have never had a winning record. The only nonconference win was a schelacking of I-AA Tennessee-Martin. Did I mention that Arkansas State lost its three best offensive players to graduation? SMU pitches its first shutout of the season 21-0. 3-1

• Sep. 30-at Tulane
Tulane is picked last or next to last in every Conference USA poll. However, if there is one team that is hard to judge going into this season, it is Tulane. SMU’s game against Tulane last year was an uninspired effort and that loss upsets me more than any other. So why do I think SMU will win? Because I have always believed that SMU did a terrible job with its schedule, to the point that it hurt the team. Now with a softer schedule, it is time to put that theory to the test. This team has confidence headed in the conference part of the schedule. Final score: 30-14. 4-1

• Oct. 7-at UTEP
SMU defeated UTEP last year in one of the most unexpected quarterback meltdowns of last season. And it wasn’t by an SMU quarterback! I have a working theory that because of parity teams in non-BCS conferences, much like the NFL are succeptible to up and down seasons. Just as teams that make the Superbowl one year miss the playoffs the next, teams with good records may see dramatic dropoffs and vice versa. There is some evidence to support this: last year’s UCF, Houston, Tulsa have all had up and down years. I think this is UTEP’s year to be down. Don’t ask me why. Just a feeling. Final score 24-21. 5-1

• Oct. 14-Marshall
I don’t know what happened to the Marshall offense, but by and large it disappeared. Marshall is treanding downward in every statistical category. I think this is a down year for Marshall. They secondary is being completely rebuilt. SMU throws all day. Final score 31-7. 6-1

• Oct. 21-at East Carolina
There is no team in Conference USA that is ranked with more disparity than ECU. Some publications pick ECU to win the East; some pick them dead last. A couple of things I know is that (i) the ECU run defense is bad; and (ii) they are still coached by a guy that had his play calling duties a S. Carolina were taken away by his dad. Wow. SMU has its first winning season since 1997. 7-1

• Oct. 31-UAB
I think this is Coach Brown’s last year at UAB. Like Marshall, UAB is trending down. UAB lost its quarterback, who holds every significant passing record at the school. Their offense never gets off the ground. SMU wins 28-10 on a good solid running day by DeMyron Martin. 8-1

• Nov. 11-Houston
Like last year, Houston will lose a lot of close games and continues its problems on the defensive line. Final score 21-20. 9-1

• Nov. 18-Tulsa

Loss. If you have been paying attention, SMU is undefeated in CUSA, which leads to a showdown against Tulsa. SMU plays it close but loses 33-28. 9-2

• Nov. 25-at Rice
Rice will win a game or two, but not this one. In a scrimmage last weekend, they still ran the ball 70% of the time. There simply isn’t the personnel to put in Todd Graham’s offense. I expect a score much like the 2005 game. 10-2
Again, is this my prediction? No, and don’t pretend it is. This is about the best SMU can do. In reality, I don’t expect SMU to win al of these games I identified. I admit it wasn't as much fun putting this together as last year, because I have higher expectations and I found myself confusing the best that could happen with what I thought actually may happen.

A real prediction is coming soon. There is a worst case scenario coming, too.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

College Football News’ Unit Rankings

Defense: 87
D-Line: 71
Linebackers: 94
Secondary: 95

Special Teams: 80

Offense: 93
O-Line: 96
QB’s: 96
RB’s: 78
Wide Receivers: 92

Monday, August 21, 2006

I think I am supposed to be worried

Hot on the heels of “Wart-Gate” comes the news that Phil Bennett is “concern about the quarterback position” after Saturday's scrimmage.

Justin Willis: 16 of 23; 156 yards; 1 interception; 0 TD’s.
Corey Slater: 8 of 17; 91 yards; 2 interceptions; 1 TD.
Eric Johnson: 4 of 7; 23 yards; 0 interceptions; 0 TD’s.

We should be concerned with the quarterback play because the coach is. None of the other reports are glowing, including one depressed report I received from a former player. Therefore, I am concerned, too.

As I mentioned, I was not in attendance, so all I have to go on is the word of others and statistics. Neither one is perfect, of course. It was an intersquad competition. So, the scrimmage wasn’t meaningful. It was open to the public and yes, some schools did send scouts to the game. So, the offense was very conservative, but so was the defense.

From the former player I spoke with, “… God, I miss Romo already.” To which I responded, “How many times do you think Romo completed sixty percent of his passes?” “I don’t …, four times?” “No. Twice-UAB and ECU (edit: actually, it was Tulsa) were the only times Romo hit 60% of his passes. Romo threw for 300 yards only once. His two best games by far were UAB and UTEP.”

Yes, I would have loved for Willis to charge out there and go 21 of 30 for two TD’s and no interceptions. But I wasn’t expecting that and neither should you. I wish SMU didn’t have to rely on a redshirt freshman but it does. The two guys that should be competing for the SMU QB job this year are playing tight end and for another team in Louisiana. That’s the breaks. I expect Willis to get better day by day. I expect Willis to be better in week two than week one and better in week three than week two. Willis will finish the season a much better quarterback than he starts.
This says a lot more about SMU than it does Willis, but if Willis hits just 60%, forget the almost 70% Willis hit in the scrimmage, of his passes for the year and gets 30 attempts per game on average, he will unquestionably be the best SMU quarterback since Flannigan. And that will be as a freshman.

The SMU quarterback situation hasn’t been solid in a decade. SMU won five games last year on the arm of a junior college transfer that according to some people nobody wanted. I’ll take my chances with Willis in 2006 behind this offensive line in 2006 and these running backs in 2006.

Finally, has risen from the ashes in the form of a rivals site. This has been in the works for a long time. I was beginning to wonder if it would actually happen. Nice that SMU finally has a Rivals site; it has needed one for a long time.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Football Luncheon roundup

Daily Campus is the only one with an article today.

The DMN only saw fit to name the 8 ("eight!") captains selected by the team. All seniors: Brandon Bonds, Bobby Chase, Johnnie Fitzgerald, Ryan Kennedy, Reynaldo Pellerin, Justin Rogers, Joe Sturdivant and Blake Warren.

In other news, SMU men's soccer is picked as the best in C-USA.

Oh, and SMU men's basketball and Matt Doherty picked up one heck of a commitment yesterday.

Finally, for the Tulane game, the plane tickets were officially bought last night; the hotel room officially booked; dinner reservations officially made. Blog and wife are ready.

[Gregg] finished his speech of anecdotes and words of wisdom with these six words, “SMU can win…SMU will win.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Orsini and Bennett on the Ticket


Not a whole much new information, but talked about experience and playmakers; goal is a bowl game. Talked about Willis far more than anybody else, and again in glowing terms. Talked about the kidney stones.

80% of $13M for practice facility raised. Break ground in the fall and ready for next season.

Doherty: Doherty had questions about SMU's commitment through facilities, resources admissions. Doherty had options and he wouldn't have come to SMU unless he was convinced that he has the tools at SMU to win.

Admissions: We are never going to recruit a kid that we don't think can graduate, but we are/want to be "nationally competitive" in admissions. If the coaches believe that a kid with the support available at SMU can graduate, then we should give those coaches' the ability to get them.

We have a very successful athletics program we are 45th in the Directors' Cup, far and away the highest in C-USA. Basketball and football are not where they need to be. The goal is get those programs successful, but not just achieve success, but to sustain it.

About Bennett, "Phil told me, "SMU has been fair to me, it is time to show results."

Kickoff Luncheon and Links

Today is the SMU Football Kickoff Luncheon. I haven't heard if it is sold out, so go if you can. I will be stuck in my office with a phone to my ear at a mediation.

Might as well tell you I am missing Saturday's open scrimmage as well. For whatever reason, my wife decided to be born on that day thirty years ago (or so).

Much has been made of yesterday's DMN practice report. Slater is improving, and is making a push for the starting job. Maybe there is truth to it, but Willis had a good scrimmage on Saturday by all accounts and I haven't heard a disparaging word about Willis in more than a year. And everything, I mean everything, I have heard says that Willis is the man.

Is Bennett pushing buttons? After using the Carrot for a year, is Bennett using the stick? Possibly.

Speaking of QB battles, both NTSCC and Arkansas State are both having their own quarterback problems. Which is odd, because I was led to believe that things like this only happen at SMU.

Nice article on the SMU defense in today's DMN.

Monday, August 14, 2006

History: Peruna

A little history for you today.

The name of SMU's mascot is Peruna, which a funny name to be sure. According to SMU history, "SMU’s official mascot was named after an early 20th-century patent medicine, Peruna Tonic, which was popular for its “kick.”"

But if you ever wanted to know what Peruna really was, ...



A distinguished public health official and medical writer once made this jocular suggestion to me:

"Let us buy in large quantities the cheapest Italian vermouth, poor gin and bitters. We will mix them in the proportion of three of vermouth to two of gin, with a dash of bitters, dilute and bottle them by the short quart, label them Smith's Reviver and Blood Purifier; dose, one wineglassful before each meal advertise them to cure erysipelas, bunions, dyspepsia, beat rash, fever and ague, and consumption; and to prevent loss of hair, smallpox, old age, sunstroke and near-sightedness, and make our everlasting fortunes selling them to the temperance trade."

“That at sounds to me very much like a cocktail," said I.

"So it is," he replied. "But it's just as much a medicine as Peruna, and not as bad a drink."

Peruna, or, as its owner, Dr. S. B. Hartman, of Columbus, Ohio (once a physician in good standing), prefers to write it, Pe-ru-na, is at present the most prominent proprietary nostrum in the country. It has taken the place once held by Greene's Nervura and by Paine's Celery Compound, and. for the same reason which made them popular. The name of that reason is alcohol.* Peruna, is a stimulant pure and simple, and it is the more dangerous in that it sails under the false colors of a benign purpose.

According to an authoritative statement given out in private circulation a few years ago by its proprietors, Peruna is a compound of seven drugs with cologne spirits. The formula, they assure me, has not been materially changed. None of the seven drugs is of any great potency. Their total is less than one-half of 1 per cent. of the product. Medicinally they are too inconsiderable, in this proportion, to produce any effect. There remains to Peruna only water and cologne spirits, roughly in the proportion of three to one. Cologne spirits is the commercial term of alcohol.

What Peruna Is Made Of.

Any one wishing to make Peruna for home consumption may do so by mixing half a pint of cologne spirits, 190 proof, with a pint and a half of ,water, adding thereto a little cubebs for flavor and a little burned sugar for color. Manufactured in bulk, so a former Peruna agent estimates, its-cost, including bottle and wrapper, is between fifteen and eighteen cents a bottle. Its price is $1.00. Because of this handsome margin of profit, and by way of making hay in the stolen sunshine of Peruna advertising, many imitations have sprung up to harass the proprietors of the alcohol-and-water product.”

The article goes on and on, but basically, Peruna will get you sloshed at a very reasonable price.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Air America and SMU?

Maybe I wasn't paying attention, but I had no idea that the flagship for SMU basketball, WXEB, is an Air America affiliate.

Wanna hear the first SMU basketball game of the Matt Doherty era? Wanna listen to Highland Park’s football team defend its state championship? Then you better start tuning to the radio station that brings you Jerry Springer in the mornings, Al Franken in the afternoons and a format catering to Texas’ jet set. What is essentially Air America Radio, but is being marketed in Dallas as “Texas Progressive Radio,” KXEB-AM (910) is about to become a major player in local sports radio, especially among the most famous and fortunate of fans. The station, which already carries FC Dallas soccer games, will begin airing HP Scots football with the game against Bishop Lynch on September 15 and will broadcast Doherty’s first game as Mustangs head hoops coach in early November.

It's all Big 12, all the time

Actual headline in the Dallas Morning News: It's all Big 12, all the time .

The article is by Keith Whitmire.

It is unclear if Whitmire is describing the potential for a Big XII television network or the editorial philosophy of his newspaper.

I kid. I kid.

CFN's Three-year rankings is unveiling their 2006 Three-Year Program Analysis. To date, they have only unveiled the bottom 20.

I rolled my eyes and clicked on the link.

Shocking, SMU is not in the bottom 20.

The rankings use eight criteria: Attendance; academic Perfomance Rating; Wins over the last three years; Quality wins over the last three years; Players drafted over the last three years; Conference winning percentage over the last three years; Elite Wins; and Bad Losses. Honestly academics and the win over TCU saved SMU from being near the bottom.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wednesday Roundup

While Calvin Watkins is away at Cowboys training camp, we getting a heavy dose of the great Keith Whitmire. Today's DMN has a blurb on the kicking game. Thomas Morstead looks like he may handle both placekicking and punting positions, while freshman Kellis Cunningham may handle kickoffs.

I don't think SMU fans spend enough time worrying about the special teams this year. McMurtray got off to a shaky start, but he was solid at the end. He won a game or two last year for SMU.

Yesterday's DMN had a blurb on TE Ryan Kennedy, who is doing well coming off knee surgery.

Click here or go to the main SMU site for a video practice report from Monday. I sure hope we get more of these. Bennett still has the goatee.

Finally, a look at what might have been:

NATCHITOCHES -- Quarterback Ricky Joe Meeks sparkled, throwing three touchdown passes as Northwestern State's passing game showed progress Tuesday in a brief goalline scrimmage that wrapped up the first full-contact practice of the Demon football team's preseason camp.
Meeks threw two touchdown passes to senior Derrick Doyle and another to sophomore Adam Varnado and drew praise from coach Scott Stoker after the two-hour practice, culminating with a 20-minute situational goalline scrimmage at Turpin Stadium.

"Ricky Joe had a real good day and that set a good tone," Stoker said.


Meeks hit Doyle on TD strikes of 8 and 20 yards while throwing a 12-yarder to Varnado. Third-teamer Sean Santos, a redshirt freshman, found Chris Miller for an 18-yard touchdown. Junior tailback Richuel Massey, a transfer from SMU, ran for a 6-yard score and sophomore kicker Robert Weeks nailed a 29-yard field goal.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 is genius.

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And see, if you are flying to Lubbock for the Tech game, or New Orleans or Houston, this will come in handy. See, you knew I would tie it to SMU football somehow, didn't you?

Skip Holtz was offered SMU job?

Lou Holtz is hopping mad. In his book, Lou Holtz spends considerable time on the relationship between him, South Carolina and his son, Skip Holtz. Holtz is mad because he thought he/his son had a deal that would allow Skip to succeed him at South Carolina.

Why do we care?

"After the 2002 season, Skip was offered a lucrative head-coaching position at a fine school (SMU). He declined it after consulting with Dr. (McGee)," Lou Holtz wrote. "He was assured that he had a future at South Carolina after I left. That proved to be erroneous."

Now, either somebody needs an editor or this reporter is breaking an enormous story on SMU football. What is the story? Well, either Lou Holtz meant after the 2001 season, or SMU was going to let Bennett go after one year. Since (a) Skip Holtz was a candidate for the job in 2001; and (b) Phil Bennett is still here, I assume it is a mis-statement or a typo.

The real news is Lou is saying Skip was offered the job at SMU. I didn't want Skip to coach SMU, so I am glad he stayed. Some people love Skip Holtz. For example, there are a couple of magazines ranking ECU in the 60's or even picking them to win C-USA East, while others rank ECU dead last in Conference USA. Yes, ECU beat SMU last year, but I still don't think much of Skip Holtz.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Good press in the DMN, and why it upsets me

In Monday’s DMN, there is very nice feature on Justin Willis. I am not going to quote from it; you need to read the whole thing.
It is written by Gerry Fraley. Gerry Fraley is an idiot a genius.

I have mellowed in my old age and don’t loathe Fraley like I used to. There was a time when Fraley would write a column and without reading it, I knew I disagreed with nearly every word in it. Fraley is, above anything else, a coach apologist. I will never forget his column schilling for Don Nelson to get an extension in the middle of the season. Without going into detail, I will tell you the underlying premise was bogus. After every column or feature Fraley ever wrote, I posted on a message board or told somebody in an email, “Gerry Fraley is an idiot.”

So when Fraley says something I like, it kills me.


There is a big backlog of stuff to discuss. I couldn’t update Thursday because for technical reasons. I couldn’t update Friday because it was my son’s birthday, which meant a party on Saturday.

SMU has hired a new executive assistant AD. The interesting news is Mike Vaught is coming from Rice, which would not be that interesting except he has held that for just six months.

I find it odd that nobody has mentioned Vaught’s Career before Rice. Immediately before Rice, Vaught was athletic director of the Alamo Heights ISD in San Antonio. Before that, he was the AD at the Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.

Before becoming an AD Vaught was a football coach. Vaught was the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Navy from 1995 2001. He was also the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Texas State. Vaught was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Missouri State and a graduate assistant at Arkansas.

Bennett sees a bigger roll for Martin. Also, Bryan McCann is the only true freshman expected play this year; McCann plays wide receiver is getting some snaps in practice at Corner.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Kolb heisman watch

Has to be seen to be believed.

Hmmmm....not too many highlights from November 19, 2005. Sacked three times; two picks. Oh, and Houston lost 29-24 to SMU.

In all seriousness, good for Houston. The athletic department goes all out. Sure, sometimes, they come across as "out there" and this is one of those times, but good for them.

August 1 Update

Today's DMN article is See you in September, SMU

The article is mainly on SMU's upcoming nonconference schedule. It is definitely worth a read, though I think the attempt is to paint the nonconference schedule as tougher than it really is, which I disagree with. Maybe, everybody is just being polite.

I am a little surprised that this was the focus after media day.

I neglected to mention this article in the Herald Democrat on SMU redshirt Freshman and starting QB Justin Willis. If you haven't read it yet, you need to. It is a great feature. Now we know Willis likes to cook. I am still uneasy about a RS freshman being the quarterback of this team. But the only other options are a junior college sophomore and Chris Phillips. I am not sure either are great options at this point. At media day, Bennett said he wanted one guy. Hopefully Willis shows enough to be the "one guy." However, I won't be surprised if we have revolving quarterbacks once again. Some people still think Phillips should get the nod for having experience. I disagree. First, Phillips saw time in eight games; in those games, SMU really played him full time in maybe three games. Second, he's never won a game. Third, who played a competitive football game more recently: Willis or Phillips? The answer is Willis; that is how long it has been since Phillips has been on the field.

The SMU Daily Campus is running out their version of media day coverage. All and all, I like their article the best. It has the best quotes, by far.

“Anything other than a bowl game is not acceptable,” senior wide receiver Reynaldo Pellerin said. “Before this year I never would have talked about a bowl game.”

The parity throughout the conference was mentioned by all of the head coaches, with Bennett saying SMU is positioned to win and be competitive in the western division.

“I think we’re a lot like Tulsa was last year.”


“Our goal is to get better at practice – not merely survive it.”

Pellerin, whose first game was in Lubbock in 2003, says the Red Raiders “are beatable like everyone else.”

“We are ready to compete with whoever we play,” said Sturdivant.

Blog bitterness

Man, can facial hair screw up a plan. I had a T-Shirt idea. I have the mock up at home and I will try to post it later (though, I am having problems hosting pictures on Blogger). Basically, the front was a whited-out version of Bennett's face so that all there really was in the picture was Bennett's sunglasses and the mustache. As much as anything, it looked like a caricature of Teddy Roosevelt. On the back was "Fear the 'stache!" I liked it. I thought it was funny. There aren't a lot of mustaches in the world and Bennett's was a trademark.

But then, I watched Bennett on Channel 52 last Wednesday and my world was shattered. Bennett now has a goatee. Goatee's are not funny. You can't make a shirt that says, "Fear the Goat!" That is just odd. It sounds like you are from Colorado State.

I didn't get upset at first. Bennett inferred it might be a temporary thing last week. But yesterday, the man was still sporting the goatee on media day. This is unacceptable. Now I have to think of something else.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Crazy SMU Law Professor's Conviction Overturned.

Appeals court overturns SMU law professor's assault conviction

DALLAS -- A state appeals court has overturned a Southern Methodist University law professor’s conviction of intentionally striking a bicyclist with her car.

Jane Dolkart had been sentenced last summer to five years of probation after a Dallas County jury convicted her of aggravated assault Monday.

But a three-judge Fifth Texas Court of Appeals panel in Dallas reversed the conviction last Wednesday.

It ruled that the trial judge gave a Dallas County jury flawed instructions.

Jurors had agreed she used her car as a deadly weapon when she hit Tommy Thomas, who was riding a bicycle at White Rock Lake last May.

Note to my cycling friends: Stay off the road.

CFN's Best Regular Season Games's Tuesday Question for their writers is "The ten greatest regular season games of all-time were ...?"

Pete Fiutak includes:

7. SMU 20 ... TCU 14 November 30, 1935
This game had as much hype as there had ever been for a Southwest Conference game. When it was over, it was dubbed the Game of the First Half of the Century. 10-0, No. 1 SMU had the great running back Bobby Wilson while 10-0, No. 2 TCU boasted All-America quarterback Sammy Baugh. Wilson started off the scoring with a nine-yard touchdown run. He put the Mustangs up 14-0 on his second touchdown of the game. Baugh was able to fight to get the Horned Frogs back into the game early in the fourth quarter tying it at 14. On the drive following Baugh's game-tying touchdown pass, Wilson, all 147 pounds of him, converted on a fourth-and-seven catching a fake 36-yard punt from Bob Finley. On the play, Wilson dove, caught it on the four-yard line, and then rolled into the end zone for score. Baugh came close to leading TCU to scores on two late drives, but both fizzled out and SMU ended up winning the national title.

Richard Cirminiello included so many lists in his answer it is hard to keep it straight, but he did include the 1982 Tech-SMU game among the best "Regular Season Finishes."

Conference USA Media Day

Today is media day for Conference USA. It is here in Dallas, BTW. That is right, Mack Brown's less talented brother is in town!!!

I actually thought about asking for a credential to this. I figured the odds of them saying "Yes" were around 15%. But I have a mediation I have to attend today and I didn't know if I would be able to do both and I didn't want to miss the continental breakfast at the media day or the cookies at the mediation.

Anyway, at some time around 11:45, there will be some video on the C-USA website that will be on SMU. It should run about ten minutes. I guess it is an interview with Bennett and a couple of players. The two players that SMU is bringing to media day are Joe Sturdivant and Reynaldo Pellerin. Sturdivant is no surprise. After all, he is an impact player on NCAA Football 2007 for the PS2. Yeah, he's a pretty good player-man, too. Pellerin is a mild surprise as an offensive selection-SMU wasn't required to bring seniors and Pellerin isn't the most accomplished receiver or offensive player on the team.

It also means there will likely be a SMU/C-USA story in the Dallas Morning News tomorrow.

Players report today, though from the SMU website, you would never know it.

Also, Forrest Gregg is the keynote speaker at the kickoff luncheon. Gregg is an excellent choice. Gregg has, I think, held every position in the SMU athletic department except groundskeeper: player; coach; AD.

Single game tickets are now on sale on the official site.