Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ag Football Preview: SMU

Hey - it's an old SWC rival.
This one goes way back.  Unfortunately, the last time it was relevant was shortly after Eric Dickerson's Trans-Am arrived.  The Mustangs were rolling up everyone in the early-80s with the Pony Express, led by Dickerson and Craig James. 

Aggies love Craig James - but only because his son is Adam James and only because Adam James got Mike Leach fired at texas tech and only because Mike Leach getting fired at texas tech pushed their football back into the abyss that they deserve.

The Ponies were 45-5-1 from 1981-1984.  That is really good - good enough for the best record in the NCAA over that time.  Unfortunately for them, the price they paid for that success wasn't worth it (literally).  They got busted for horrific spending on players with bundles of money from slush funds - multiple times - even tying the Governor of Texas into it all.

For the full story, I recommend the book Payroll to Meet and ESPN's 30-for-30 called Pony Express.

Long story short, they got the death penalty from the NCAA.  The program was suspended for the 1987 and 1988 seasons.  It has never recovered.  They had one winning season from 1984-2008.  They were one of the schools left to die when the SWC disbanded and have been stumbling along in C-USA.  June Jones arrived in '08 and has given the program relative success with two winning seasons - and next year they join UH in moving to the Big East.

Kevin Sumlin knows the Mustangs well.  He coached against them four times while in charge of UH going 4-0 and winning by an average score of 41-20.  He also knows their new OC, Jason Phillips, well.  Phillips was the Co-OC (along with Kingsbury) for Sumlin at UH.

We played SMU in our season opener last season winning by a score of 46-14 at Kyle Field.  RB Zach Line ran wild against us picking up 128 yards and a TD on 22 carries - he is back this year.
They add another familiar face in Garrett Gilbert.  You probably remember Gilbert as the all-world heir to t.u. when Cart graduated.  Following his national championship debut in Cart's injury absence, he was pre-season All-Big 12 before his first career start and went on to be replaced with a duel QB system featuring two freshmen who couldn't pass. 

They do return Darius Johnson, one of their two 1,000 yard receivers from last year, as well as a 1st team All-CUSA member.

On the defensive side of the ball they are pretty stout at LB.  They return Taylor Reed who had 202 tackles from '10-'11, and Ja'Gared Davis who was 1st team C-USA in '10 and 2nd team in '11.  They add to that tandem, Austin Fuller, a transfer from Virginia Tech.

SMU's athletic department is doing their best to capture the excitement of this game.  I think they're the excited ones because this game is a tough ticket - but for Ags it's an easy road trip and for SMU fans....well, there aren't any.

SMU fans were asked to make this game a "White Out" and then yesterday they changed their mind and want a "Red Out".  It'll blend in much better with all the huge amount of maroon and they'll be able to take a picture and pass it off as a big home crowd at Ford Field in next year's media guide. Smart move.

Should be a good weekend - I love easy road trips, and they don't get easier than this.

Gig'em and BTHO SMU!

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