American Football Database
SMU Mustangs
First season 1915
Athletic director Steve Orsini
Head coach June Jones
Home stadium Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Year built 1999
Stadium capacity 32,000
Stadium surface FieldTurf
Location Dallas, Texas
League Division I
Conference Conference USA
Division West
Past conferences Southwest Conference
Western Athletic Conference
All-time record 439–477–54
Postseason bowl record 5–7–1
Claimed national titles 3
Conference titles 11
Current uniform
Colors Harvard Red and Yale Blue            
Mascot Peruna

The SMU Mustangs football program is a college football team that represents Southern Methodist University (more commonly "SMU"). The team competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) as a member Conference USA. The Mustangs have competed in the West Division of Conference USA since 2005.


1976-1986: A Winning Record

Coach Ron Meyer came to SMU in 1976 after his success as an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s (including a Super Bowl win) and a stint with UNLV. Coach Meyer was infamous for his recruiting tactics, including visits each year to the homes of an unprecedented 70 or more of the top recruits per year. His most notable recruits were future NFL runningbacks Eric Dickerson and Craig James before the 1979 season, as both their high school teams went 15-0 and won state championships. Combined with blue chip runningback Charles Waggoner, the three backs were nicknamed the "Pony Express" running attack and shredded opposing defenses in the option offense led by quarterback Lance McIlhenny. This team claimed a share of the 1981 college football Division 1-A national championship, based on the determination of the National Championship Foundation.

Coach Meyer left to become the head coach of the New England Patriots in 1982, and SMU hired Coach Bobby Collins, then head coach at University of Southern Mississippi. Dickerson finished 3rd in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1982, and the team claimed a share of its second consecutive national championship, based on the determination of the Helms Athletic Foundation.

SMU posted a record of 45-5-1 from 1980–1984, which was the highest win percentage (0.892) in Division 1-A over that span.

1987-2007: NCAA "Death Penalty" and decades of rebuilding

In 1987, SMU football became the first, and currently only, football program in collegiate athletic history to receive the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) "Death Penalty" for repeat violation of NCAA rules, that is, having a sports program fully terminated for a determined amount of time. SMU's football program was terminated for the 1987 season because the University was making approximately $61,000 in booster payments from 1985 to 1986. It later emerged that a "slush fund" had been used to pay players as early as the mid-1970s, and athletic officials had known about it as early as 1981.

SMU was eligible for the "death penalty" because it had been placed on probation in 1985 for recruiting violations. Since many players were poor, boosters would pay for rent or other bills for the parents of the athletes, and several key boosters and administration officials felt it would be unethical to cut off payments. When the sanctions were handed down, SMU had three players - all seniors about to graduate - receiving payments. Not long afterward, SMU announced that its football team would stay shuttered for the 1988 season as well after school officials received indications that they wouldn't have enough experienced players to field a viable team[1] as most of the team left the university and transferred to other institutions. Forrest Gregg, an SMU alum who was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, was hired in 1988 to help rebuild the team. The decimation of the program meant that Gregg was left with an undersized and underweight lineup; he was taller and heavier than virtually all of his players.

The Mustangs struggled for 20 years to recover from the effects of the scandal. Coach Gregg compiled a 3-19 record in his two seasons. He moved on to be the SMU Athletic Director from 1990 through 1994.

The Mustangs had 3 more head coaches and only one winning season through the completion of the 2007 season.

2008-present: Return to Success

File:Shawnbrey McNeal stiffarm.jpg

SMU in action versus UTEP in 2009

In 2008 SMU hired Steve Orsini away from the University of Central Florida (UCF) to be the SMU Athletic Director. Orsini then hired June Jones from the University of Hawai'i to be the team's new head coach at SMU and currently the 5th coach in the post death penalty time since 1989. In Jones' first season at SMU the team had a 1-11 record. In 2009, Coach Jones' second season at SMU, the Mustangs had a turnaround season, compiling an improved regular season record of 7-5. Although finishing unranked in the 2009 NCAA Division I FBS football rankings, SMU was invited to its first bowl game in 25 years, defeating the unranked Nevada Wolf Pack with a final score 45-10 in the 2009 Hawai'i Bowl, the team's first bowl win since 1984.

In 2010, the Mustangs again compiled a regular season record of 7-5, with a 6-2 in-conference record to earn their first chance at winning a conference title in 26 years, securing a berth in the Conference USA Championship game. SMU lost the conference title game, 17-7, against UCF. Once again unranked in the 2010 NCAA Division I FBS football rankings, SMU was invited to its second consecutive bowl game, the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl, where it lost against the unranked Army Black Knights.

Following Texas A&M's mooted move to the SEC in August and September of 2011, SMU have made it known that they would like to replace them in the Big 12.

On September 3rd 2011, Athletic Director Steve Orsini stated: "We want stability in the regional conference that meets our objective," Orsini said, "and that right now would be defined as the Big 12."

"Regionalism is a sign of strength, and we feel expansion, especially in the latest trends, is a sign of strength," Orsini said. "And we feel we can help an AQ conference in both of those areas."

Orsini made it clear that SMU isn't solely interested in the Big 12, but in finding an AQ home. Should the Mustangs' current league, Conference USA, achieve AQ status someday, that would work just fine. Maybe the Mountain West earns an AQ distinction and decides to dip back into the Metroplex again.

"When we were affiliated with those schools in this region [Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech], we were competing very successfully," Orsini reminded. "We have a lot of conference championships in the Southwest Conference to show for it. "We're ready. It took us a long time to rebound from the historic low that hit here, but that was 25 years ago. There are no signs of that anymore."[2]


Team achievements

National championships

The NCAA's website states that "the NCAA does not conduct a national championship in Division I-A football and is not involved in the selection process." It goes on to say that "a number of polling organizations provide a final ranking of Division I-A football teams at the end of each season." SMU officially claims three national championships (1935, 1981 & 1982). (The NCAA officially changed the "I-A" designation to the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in 2006.)

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl Result
1935 Matty Bell Dickinson, Houlgate System, and Sagarin Ratings 12-1 Rose Bowl SMU 0, Stanford 7
1981 Ron Meyer National Championship Foundation 10-1 -- --
1982 Bobby Collins Helms Athletic Foundation 11-0-1 Cotton Bowl Classic SMU 7, Pittsburgh 3
Total National Championships: 3


Conference championships

Year Conference Coach Record
1923 Southwest Conference Ray Morrison 9–0-0
1926 Southwest Conference Ray Morrison 8–0–1
1931 Southwest Conference Ray Morrison 9–1–1
1935 Southwest Conference Matty Bell 12–1–0
1940 Southwest Conference Matty Bell 8–1–1
1947 Southwest Conference Matty Bell 9-0-2
1948 Southwest Conference Matty Bell 9-1-1
1966 Southwest Conference Hayden Fry 8–3–0
1981 Southwest Conference Ron Meyer 10-1-0
1982 Southwest Conference Bobby Collins 11-0-1
1984 Southwest Conference Bobby Collins 10–2–0
Total Conference Championships 11

† Co-Champion with the Texas A&M Aggies

‡ Co-Champion with the Houston Cougars

Divisional championships

Year Conference Division Coach Record
2009 Conference USA West June Jones 8–5
2010 Conference USA West June Jones 7–6
Total Divisional Championships 2

† Co-Divisional Champion with the Houston Cougars

‡ Co-Divisional Champion with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Individual achievements

Heisman Trophy

Maxwell Award

Sammy Baugh Trophy

College Football Hall of Fame Inductees

Name Position Years at SMU Year Inducted
Ray Morrison Coach 1915–1916, 1922–1934 1954
Gerald "Little Red Arrow" Mann Quarterback 1925–1927 1969
Bobby Wilson Halfback 1933–1935 1973
"Moanin'" Matty Bell Coach 1935–1941, 1945–1949 1955
Doak "The Doaker" Walker Halfback 1945, 1947–1949 1959
Kyle "The Mighty Mustang" Rote Halfback 1948–1950 1964
"Dandy" Don Meredith Quarterback 1957–1959 1982
Hayden Fry Coach 1962–1972 2003
Jerry Rhome Quarterback 1961 1998
Jerry LeVias Wide Receiver 1966–1968 2003


Name Position Year
Choc Sanders Guard 1928
Marion Hammon Tackle 1929
Speedy Mason Halfback 1931
Clyde Carter Tackle 1934
Harry Shuford
Bobby Wilson
Harry Shuford
Bobby Wilson
Truman "Big Dog" Spain
J.C. "Iron Man" Wetsel
Kelly Simpson End 1941
Tom Dean Tackle 1945
Doak "The Doaker" Walker Halfback 1947
Doak "The Doaker" Walker Halfback 1948
Doak "The Doaker" Walker Halfback 1949
Kyle "The Mighty Mustang" Rote Halfback 1950
Dick Hightower Center 1951
Don "Dandy Don" Meredith Quarterback 1958
Don "Dandy Don" Meredith Quarterback 1959
John LaGrone Guard 1966
Jerry LeVias Wide Receiver 1968
Robert Popelka Defensive End 1972
Louie Kelcher
Oscar Roan
Tight End
Emanuel Tolbert Wide Receiver 1978
John Simmons Defensive Back 1980
Harvey Armstrong Defensive Tackle 1981
Eric Dickerson Running Back 1982
Russell Carter Defensive Back 1983
Reggie Dupard Running Back 1985
John Stewert Placekicker 1993

Honored jerseys

Number Name
17 Don "Dandy Don" Meredith
19 Eric Dickerson
37 Doak "The Doaker" Walker
73 Forrest Gregg
80 Lamar Hunt
87 Raymond Berry

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees

Name Position Team(s) Years Year Inducted
Lamar Hunt League Founder, Owner Dallas Texans
Kansas City Chiefs
Raymond Berry End Baltimore Colts 1955–1967 1973
Forrest Gregg Offensive Tackle Green Bay Packers
Dallas Cowboys
1956, 1958-1970 1971 1977
Doak Walker Halfback Detroit Lions 1950–1955 1986
Eric Dickerson Running Back Los Angeles Rams
Indianapolis Colts
Los Angeles Raiders
Atlanta Falcons

Current NFL players

Bowl appearances

Season Year Bowl Game Opponent W/L PF PA
1924 1925 Dixie Classic West Virginia Wesleyan L 7 9
1935 1936 Rose Bowl Stanford L 0 7
1947 1948 Cotton Bowl Classic Penn State T 13 13
1948 1949 Cotton Bowl Classic Oregon W 21 13
1963 1963 Sun Bowl Oregon L 14 21
1966 1966 Cotton Bowl Classic Georgia L 9 24
1968 1968 Bluebonnet Bowl Oklahoma W 28 27
1980 1980 Holiday Bowl BYU L 45 46
1982 1983 Cotton Bowl Classic Pittsburgh W 7 3
1983 1983 Sun Bowl Alabama L 7 28
1984 1984 Aloha Bowl Notre Dame W 27 20
2009 2009 Hawaiʻi Bowl Nevada W 45 10
2010 2010 Armed Forces Bowl Army L 14 16

Head coaches

Name Years W-L-T
Ray Morrison 1915–1916 2-13-2
J. Burton Rix 1917–1921 16-19-7
Ray Morrison 1922–1934 82-31-20
Madison "Matty" Bell 1935–1941 47-24-3
James "Jimmy" Stewart 1942–1944 10-18-2
Madison "Matty" Bell 1945–1949 32-16-5
Harvey “Rusty” Russell 1950–1952 13-15-2
Chalmer “Woody” Woodard 1953–1956 19-20-1
William "Bill" Meek 1957–1961 17-29-4
Hayden Fry 1962–1972 49-66-1
Dave Smith 1973–1975 16-15-2
Ron Meyer 1976–1981 34-32-1
Bobby Collins 1982–1986 43-14-1
Forrest Gregg 1989–1990 3-19-0
Tom Rossley 1991–1996 15-48-3
Mike Cavan 1997–2001 22-34-0
Phil Bennett 2002–2007 18-52-0
June Jones 2008–2010 16-22-0

Future non-conference opponents

SMU has released a partial list of non-conference opponents for the near future:

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Sep. 1 at Baylor Aug. 31 vs. Texas Tech Aug. 30 at Baylor Sep. 5 vs. Baylor Sep. 3 at North Texas Sep. 2 vs. Baylor Sep. 22 at. Baylor Aug. 31 vs. Baylor
Sep. 8 vs. Stephen F. Austin Sep. 14 vs. Baylor Sep. 6 at North Texas Sep. 12 vs. North Texas Sep. 10 vs. Navy at. Navy vs. Navy
Sep. 15 vs. Texas A&M Sep. 21 at Texas A&M Sep. 13 vs. TCU Sep. 19 at TCU Sep. 17 at. Baylor vs. North Texas
Sep. 29 vs. TCU Sep. 28 at TCU Sep. 20 vs. Texas A&M Sep. 26 at Navy Sep. 24 vs. TCU at. TCU


Home fields


  1. Frank, Peter (1987-04-11). "'88 football season canceled by SMU". New York Times.
  3. [1]

External links