Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bennett is gone

Dallas Morning News


Two images bookend my memories from Phil Bennett’s tenure at SMU.

The first is the first game of Bennett’s career. I wasn’t even there. I had a three week old son. Too young to take to the game and leaving my wife alone for a Saturday was not an option. So I sat there in a rocking chair, trying to rock my crying son to sleep while listening to the game begin. Holding my new son, listening to a football game with a brand new coach in his first game against a pathetic opponent that hadn’t won a game the year before. And then disaster struck. From the fire on the grass; to the pathetic defense, to the complete blowout; most of the time, I was rocking my son trying to figure out what the hell was happening.

The second memory is the Rice game in 2006. Winner goes bowling; loser would stay home. Coincidentally, I didn’t go to that game either. Through an odd twist of fate, both my wife’s parents were in the hospital. She had to be there and I had to watch the kids. My friends road down in an RV; they were having a great time. I watched the game on all-access while listening to the radio. Again, disaster would befall the Mustangs.

But my memory isn’t really from the game itself, it is from Jean-Jacques Taylor’s column the next day. He wrote, “After the game, several SMU players sat on the bench and watched Rice's jubilation. Another fell to the ground, tears streaming down his face. Another screamed obscenities to no one in particular.”

That image stuck with me.

“What about the 2007 season,” you ask? Honestly, there is not one damn thing I will remember about Phil Bennett in 2007. The season was entirely forgettable and almost entirely irrelevant. The only thing SMU accomplished is proving that SMU is patient to a fault.

I suppose I may remember the last SMU offensive series of consequence. SMU had first and goal to seal the victory. In an offense that relies on its best player more than any other offense in football, SMU chose not to put the ball in Justin Willis' hands. SMU failed to score, squandering the best defensive effort of the season. Had the defense played that well all season, I dare say, we would not be having this conversation this week.

I must say, the result is not unexpected. I expected to see SMU with a completely rebuilt defensive line fail to get any pressure on the quarterback, leaving the mediocre, at best, secondary exposed and forcing the offense to play catchup most of the game and the load would be too much for the reigning C-USA Freshman of the Year to bear. I just didn't expect the defense to flame out in such spectacular fashion and I didn't expect the season to end in Week Eight. I thought the offense would carry SMU to at least four, more likely five, wins; I thought SUM would be chasing the New Orleans Bowl all the way to the end of the season.

SMU is the first school to fire its head football coach in 2007. Now is the time for Steve Orsini to do what we all know he was hired to do in the first place.

Note to Steve: Don't screw it up.

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