The SMU basketball program wanted to turn their program into a national powerhouse and they had the money to grab any big name that could do just that. The problem was every name they talked to didn’t want the job. And why would they? It looked like a program that could never succeed.
Finally, in April of 2012, former NBA coach Larry Brown, after making it known he wanted the job, was offered it and it was accepted. What has happened since then has been nothing short of amazing. The guy who wasn’t even their first choice has been the guy to turn the program around.
That’s exactly what the SMU football program needs but the university needs to be committed to giving it the kick in the pants it needs because what’s going on right now has been called out by one of its more famous alma mater, Eric Dickerson. The former Mustang, and former NFL running back, went on 105.3 FM The Fan on Tuesday morning and not only fired shots at the SMU program, but he took it a few steps further.
“It’s like we’re just sitting there talking about the death penalty that happened 30 years ago,” Dickerson told Shan Sheriff and RJ Choppy. “It’s time to get over that. I talked to four players yesterday. All of us are frustrated former players. All of us said the same thing. If they don’t want to do anything, just kill the program.”
When I talked to a former player, he echoed the same sentiment but took it a step further. When I asked them about why Jones would walk out on the players, and the program, especially after signing a contract extension back in December. “The extension was a “sign of stability” for recruiting (which didn’t go well),” the former player told me. “I’m sure there were words behind closed doors about expectations.”
If the extension was given to Jones with the caveat that his 2014 recruiting class be strongest it had been in his tenure, then maybe stepping aside wasn’t entirely his idea or there was pressure from the football program because recruiting didn’t go the way they wanted it to go. Did Jones get tired of the talking behind his back? Was he not given much help from the school to improve his ability to recruit? Or did Jones just lost interest or motivation to do the job?
We may not know the true answer until June Jones decides to tell his side of the story, if he ever does.
Until then, the SMU football program needs to find a coach who can excite recruits again. A guy who can do what Larry Brown has done with the basketball program and a guy who can build a winner year in and year out. They may not have a shot at a national championship but going to, and winning, bowl games could do a lot to rejuvenate what looks to be an absolutely dead program.
They may hate the comments made by Eric Dickerson and the faithful SMU fans may be upset that he said it, especially because he was one of the reasons the school received the only “death penalty” ever given to a football program, but it doesn’t make him any less right about what’s going on right now.
Jones left a program that looked to be headed in the right direction when the 2013 season ended but, after two games, it looks anything but bright on the hilltop.
Who they get to take over the controls of the football program will be very telling. Will they get serious and bring in someone who can put this program on the map or does SMU really care that much about what the future holds?