SMU Deserves a Solid Chance
Maybe Eric Dickerson is right. Maybe SMU should simply close down its football program. Or is it time to really go out there and find the right man for the job?
Whatever the case may be, it’s hard to believe the SMU program has never been this noncompetitive. Ever. Not even fresh off the death penalty in 1989 has this football program looked so lifeless.
June Jones got out while the getting was good, abruptly resigning after SMU’s loss at North Texas two weeks ago. The problem – he’s the one responsible for this dumpster fire left behind, and that’s a damn shame.
SMU finds itself in a tough spot. Hire the right coach and it could transform the program. That’s all well and good, but chances are that the same coach would most likely go elsewhere once the Ponies started winning.
See, SMU is currently seen as a “stepping stone” job, rather than a destination. That’s not to be mean; it’s the truth. I’ve heard names like (Clemson’s) Chad Morris and (A&M’s) Jake Spavital as possible candidates, up-and-comers in college football who most-certainly will get interest from programs across the country, both this coming off-season and in the future.
That equals a big, fat “no,” in my opinion. SMU needs to follow its own lead from its basketball program and hire an established coach who is nearing the end of his career or has a really good reason to stay at SMU for the long haul. Guys that have already been down the “stepping stone” route.
So, with that being my criteria, who are the best candidates? Here’s who I would look at (in no particular order):
Mark Mangino, who is currently the offensive coordinator at Iowa State. He took Kansas (KANSAS!) to a BCS Bowl and won it.
Dennis Franchione, who is head coach at Texas State. He did it at TCU; not so much at A&M. But he does know Texas recruiting.
Mike Leach (yes, really), who is head coach at Washington State. Want offense? Yeah, he’d “pony up.”
And why not Mack Brown? Seriously, I’d call him. He would command instant respect for the SMU program and would definitely build a program alums could be proud of, including graduation rate.
Then there’s interim coach Tom Mason (God bless him), who has approached this job with humor and honesty over the last two weeks. He’s trying to focus on the fun side of playing the sport with his players. Good for him; what else is he going to do? It’s good that someone has the vision to keep things light and make the best of a bad situation.
Maybe Mason is the answer. He has a tremendous opportunity to show what he can do. I’m not saying he’s going to transform the current roster into world beaters, but much like Tim Bogar has done with the Texas Rangers, maybe Mason can change the attitude and culture at SMU. Maybe he can loosen up this squad and enable them to simply go out there and play football.
I love his approach so far. The Mustangs may have gotten lit up like a Christmas tree last Saturday vs. No. 6 Texas A&M, but that was happening anyway. The real test starts this week vs. TCU. Can Mason’s Mustangs show some life and bring some fun back into the game for SMU fans? Don’t count him out.
But either way, Dickerson is right about one thing. Go all-in or go all-out. SMU deserves it.