Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Miami Nice

by Steve Orsini

Greetings from the Miami Airport. It’s 70 degrees and sunny now, but I’m actually headed back to Dallas. Why Miami? No, I wasn’t here on vacation and I’m leaving before the Super Bowl. So if you guessed I was in town for Conference USA AD Meetings, you win the prize. We have these meetings a few times a year to talk about all the different issues that are impacting our schools and our league as a whole.

Perhaps the biggest issue we addressed this week is enhancing the success and image of C-USA football. Having seen C-USA games for the past couple of seasons, I can confidently say that we play an exciting brand of football in this league. Every week provides a tough battle on the field and a thrilling game for our fans to watch. Statistically, we were the most competitive league in country last season (the average margin of victory in C-USA games was the lowest of any league). Now we want to develop our league’s brand and identity as one of the best and most competitive in the nation. To do this we are evaluating any number of things including scheduling, TV exposure and increased attendance and ticket sales. Part of being a top-25 program is playing in a top conference, so I’m on board with whatever we think can help C-USA.

We covered other topics, too, like sportsmanship, officiating and financial trends in intercollegiate athletics. There was a discussion of academic performance, as well, but with our classroom successes (great APRs, the AFCA Academic Award, et cetera), I snuck out to enjoy the nice weather…

Just kidding. In all seriousness, these meetings are invaluable as we prepare for the future and I'm glad to be working with such a forward-thinking group of ADs and conference officials.

Also, how do you guys like the new bloggers I’ve added to the site? I think they have some great insights to share and I’m glad to have them on board. Let me know what you think.

Until next time, GO MUSTANGS!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Fund Times

by Craig Shaver, Associate A.D./Development

Ok, I’ve been here all of two months and the straw that I am breathing through is beginning to clog. Man this is a great job! I love what I am doing and wouldn’t want it any other way.

I am now about to embark on my first Morgan Campaign Fund Drive. This Fund Drive is put on by the Mustang Club and the proceeds go to benefit the Athletic Department as a whole. Basically, it is used to supplement the Athletic budget. When I started this job, I looked at where we stood in annual money raised within Conference USA. I was very surprised to see that we’re 10th out of 12 Universities within the conference. WOW, I really thought we would have been higher than 10th. We have a big task in front of us, but I really feel that we can crack the top five this year.

We have great people that have volunteered to help us in this year’s Fund Drive and also a great staff that work in the Mustang Club. Let me tell you a little about the Mustang Club team.

First we have Bob Sharp. Bob has been key in putting this whole thing together. He has recruited team captains, created incentives and put all the teams together for the Fund Drive. What you have to realize is that not everyone wants to work a fund drive. Bob has made numerous calls and sent e-mails to current members trying to get them to volunteer this year. Hard work for sure and he has done a great job.

Hayley Shalley is another valued member of the Mustang Club team. Hayley has worked tirelessly on all the logistics of running this whole thing. She has called restaurants, helped plan events and put together calendars to help keep us organized. Couldn’t do this without her. Very hard worker and a tremendous asset to the team.

Last and for sure not least, is Linda Miller. Linda is the one that keeps everything from coming apart at the seams. She handles all the money that comes in and keeps us in good financial shape. Linda is so knowledgeable on our Mustang Club donors that without her, we would no doubt be in trouble.

I am truly privileged to work with such great people that care so much for SMU. With a team like this, we will reach our goals. That’s a quick run down on my team and a little about the Morgan Campaign Fund Drive. I will try and expand on the Fund Drive and what goes into it next time.

I’m out for now. Go and do stuff!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Rumors & Recruiting

by Phil Bennett

The internet is a crazy thing. I have gotten a couple of calls in recent days about some rumors circulating on the web. Let me set the record straight – they’re not true. I am the head coach at SMU and I plan on staying here, building a winning program. I don’t know how this thing got started, but I wanted to end it today.

Right now, Coach Roark and I are out on the road putting the final touches on a class I’m really excited about. I sometimes joke about how dependent my success as a coach is on the actions of 19- and 20-year olds on the field. Recruiting is even tougher – trying to convince 17- and 18-year olds that SMU is where they want to spend the next four or five years. As the parent of teenagers, I can tell you kids aren’t sure where they want to eat lunch in an hour, much less where they want to spend the next half-decade of their lives! Luckily, SMU has tons to offer and it’s easy to “sell” something you believe in – and I believe in SMU. Rest assured, we’re closing strong and I think you guys will be very pleased on Signing Day, February 7. I know I will be!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stadium Studies

by Vicki Hill, Director of the LEC

So what’s somebody with a Ph.D. in English and an emphasis on Women’s Studies doing with an office in the Football Stadium?

Thursday afternoon and early evening provide an easy answer.

At 4:00, the seniors on the football team came to the A-LEC to eat pizza and make sure that all bureaucratic i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed so that their SMU careers will culminate with a graduation walk through Moody. Who still needs to get stamped into a class? What’s the deadline for filing for May graduation? Did they really eat the pizza with extra olives? Is the Degree Progress Report listing of advanced hours correct? Can we keep Mrs. Pellerin in the stands at away games even though Reynaldo is graduating?

At 6:00, a different group of football players came to the A-LEC, those for whom Coach Bennett has requested more extensive support and monitoring. Our newest staff member expressed pleasure at how much he knew about each of these guys—not the case at some other universities where she has worked. These are the players—not many, far fewer than at most Division I schools—who must focus academically if they are going to be able to contribute on the field next fall. No pizza this time. Just a straightforward discussion of what we expect of them, what they should expect of themselves, and what they can expect from us. I was impressed with the guys’ attitude and commitment.

That’s the essence of this job: encouraging and celebrating the successes and identifying and trouble-shooting the problems.

The rewards are huge.

Like all of you, I get to watch our student athletes on the field, on the court, and in the water. High-fiving their triumphs and groaning over each defeat. It’s the same thing in the classroom and lab, only sometimes a little more harrowing.

The biggest pay-off is having a front row seat on how our student athletes transform themselves during their time on the Hilltop, on who they become. How especially gratifying to see both Vic Viloria and Kris Lowe not only back but working for the Athletic Department!

Most of us only get to cheer for our alma maters (Cal 45, A&M 10!!). But that’s pretty fine too.

Monday, January 22, 2007

From Mustangs To Colts…

by Steve Orsini

I was glad to see the Indianapolis Colts win the AFC Championship game last night. Nothing against the Patriots, but Colts’ owner Jim Irsay is an SMU grad - and a member of our 1978 football team. He has continued to be a friend to SMU after his graduation, as well, creating a scholarship at SMU for Indiana students. The “Irsay Scholars,” as they’re known, receive four-year, full tuition scholarships with room and board at SMU.

Here's a great photo of Mr. Irsay hoisting the Lamar Hunt Trophy, which is named after another great SMU alum.

Congrats to Jim and the Colts and best of luck in the Super Bowl!

And while we’re talking about Colts and Mustangs, I want to let everyone know that we’re getting ready to kick off our annual Morgan Campaign for the Mustang Club, so be ready for our call. We want to be top-25 in all we do around here and that includes fundraising, too, so we’ll need your help.

I’ll see everyone Wednesday at Moody at the men’s basketball game verses Tulane. Until then, GO MUSTANGS!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Anybody Have A Big Garage?

by Brad Sutton

Life in media relations is tough to describe. When people find out what I do, they always ask me to describe a typical day. Well, truth is, there is no such thing as a typical day. Today, for example, we’re trying to solve a couple of puzzles, so-to-speak.

For tomorrow’s men’s basketball game, UTEP is bringing TV, English radio and Spanish radio. With a set amount of media seating, we just have to figure out where to put everyone, while taking care of our radio, the Morning News, Daily Campus, PonyFans, pro scouts, et cetera. Luckily, we got that one solved.

The biggest problem (literally) now is the 60-foot production truck that came in a day early. With all the snow headed for west Texas, they wanted to make sure they got out ahead of the storm and now need a place to park the thing here at SMU. If I go out for lunch, I can barely find a place to park my car when I come back. Where the heck am I going to put a 60-foot truck? (No jokes, please)

Oh well. Gotta figure something out. Better make some calls.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Compliance People Don’t Bite

by Jeff Konya

Most people when they hear of NCAA compliance usually have the usual first visceral reaction. It is a cross between realizing you have taxes due on April 15, and, your long delayed root canal cannot be avoided anymore. Sure, there are mundane aspects of every job, and part of working within NCAA rules is simply monitoring policies and procedures and completing necessary NCAA forms and reports. In this way, I can sympathize with Mr. H & R Block.

But, this only accounts for part of my duties and responsibilities. First and foremost, I have to protect SMU from unwanted situations or investigations. In this way, good compliance practices are an insurance policy, and I am the insurance broker. Also, I have to help coaches, staff, athletes and SMU followers make their way through the black letter law of the NCAA, and all of that association’s interpretations, as they encounter interesting issues. In this way, I can add “Your Honor” to my title and bang a gavel. And like any educator, I also have to make sure everyone can easily digest the rules and regulations by properly informing each constituency group (i.e., coaches, boosters, student-athletes, athletics committee, etc). Maybe this is why I get along with faculty members so well, or else, I just have one of those personalities that can intermingle with different groups of people. I never said I wasn’t conceded.

I guess the easiest way to conceptualize compliance is a comparison to a baseball team. Compliance is a relief pitcher of sorts. I wear the team uniform but the casual fan may not notice me for a long while. I do not hang out with my other teammates in the dugout during games very much, but when I get called to do a task, it is usually of great importance, is pressure filled and an outcome may hang in the balance.

I look forward to being here at the Hilltop. I left a fellow C-USA school for the opportunity to work here. I am convinced that the future is bright on so many levels for the University, and this includes a Top 25 athletics department in every possible aspect. I look forward to chatting with you in the near future, but I must get back to my Ipod Nano downloads of which Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” and Asia’s “Heat Of The Moment” were the last two.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


by Richard Sweet

I’m sitting here reflecting on my emotional experience during last night’s game…

Three hours before the game I’m anxious, “will the students show?”… we’ve unleashed a student campaign giving them ownership (and responsibility) of Moody and the Team… by the start of the game I feel better, the bleachers and section AA are almost full… the effort Matt and his staff made working with the fraternities coupled with the other marketing efforts are paying off… they’re ready to “Bring Moody Back!”

At halftime I’m in a stall throwing up (sorry Matt, coaches, and team)… In the first minute of the second half I have the hope of a fan and the desperation of an Associate Athletic Director…half the freshmen rushees are gone… the job at Southwest Airlines was being missed (even when oil was at $70 a barrel)…

Ah, but then the comeback began… maybe it will end in a single-digit loss… an other comeback began, a different comeback - some of the freshmen that left are coming back into Moody…Moody is bringing them back… thank goodness for cell phones… if you attended the game how were you feeling about now?

WOW, we’re up by one! Amazing! Couldn’t have had Jeff Pick write the game script any better…we’re going to win! Hit it Derrick!… darn… lost by one.

Now am I depressed or happy? Both… it was a good start to what will be a strategically-thought-out process to “Bring Moody Back.” It was 1.8 seconds from being a great start… we need to get from Good to Great… hmmm… sounds like a good title for a business book… see you at the women’s game on Friday.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Buzz

By Phil Bennett

The 2006 college football season isn’t even over yet and we’re already looking forward to 2007. Signing Day is coming up in February and Spring Practice is just around the corner. While we didn’t reach all our goals in 2006, winning six games (the most in nine years), playing meaningful November games, competing for the league championship and reaching bowl eligibility have people talking about SMU football. There’s a buzz out there surrounding the program. Whenever I’m out in the community, I’m amazed at the number of people who come up to me expressing how much they want SMU to succeed.

That buzz even extends to recruiting. Our reception level is better than ever with recruits and high school coaches. With a positive direction for our football program and all the rest that the University has to offer, coaches and players are excited about SMU. I know that some fans are concerned when they see the Top-100 lists and don’t see a lot SMU recruits, but we don’t recruit from lists. Most of the guys we recruit are guys who have come through our camps, guys we have seen year-in and year-out and guys we can project for the future. This is the same process that we used to land guys like Justin Rogers, Columbus Givens, Justin Willis and Emmanuel Sanders in the past. We’re confident that the guys we’re recruiting are the guys that can help us win Conference USA Championships.

We have three big recruiting weekends coming up – January 5th, 12th and 19th. We have the opportunity to take 18 to 22 kids for next season - including mid-year additions – and we’re excited about this class. We hope that we can redshirt most of the players we bring in for 2007 like we have with our last two classes. Being able to give guys a season to get acclimated to college and our program has been a huge asset to us over the past two years and we hope to do that again with this class. Our freshmen redshirt class from this past season is going to be an outstanding group of athletes.

In parting, let me say that I’m glad to join the blog and I’ll be back with more insight to the program. Thanks and GO MUSTANGS!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year, New Perspectives

As we kick off what I think will be a very exciting year for SMU Athletics, I want to thank all of you for taking the time to read my blog. I enjoy having the opportunity to speak directly to you, our fans, and it also provides an outlet for me to express my thoughts on all the things going on here on the Hilltop. Over the break, I thought about the blog and realized that there are probably several other people in and around the department that you might like to hear from as well. There are a lot of great people working here and each of them has a different perspective and different responsibilities. I’m going to ask a few people to join me on this blog as we make it more of a department-wide outlet in the coming weeks, so check back for some new posters.

On the court, our women's basketball team pulled out a huge 72-61 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday - our first win over Tech since 1989! Congrats to the student-athletes and coaching staff. They’ll start Conference USA play tonight when they take on Tulsa in Moody Coliseum. Tip is set for 7 p.m. Come check it out.

On the men’s side, we’ll host the UT-Pan American Broncs on Thursday, January 4, at 7 p.m., here at Moody, and Coach Doherty will start his new weekly one-hour radio show on January 8. “Inside College Hoops,” as we’ll call it, will be hosted by our play-by-play man, Rich Phillips, and will air on KAAM 770 AM, the home of Mustangs' basketball. It will be held at Ten Sports Grill in downtown Dallas and we’d love for you all to join us down there for the show at 6 p.m.

I hope you all enjoyed our new Daktronics scoreboard that debuted Saturday. Right now, we’re working through some of the final technical kinks and hope to have the video portion turned on very soon. We’re shooting to have an official dedication when the men's team hosts Southern Miss in its Conference USA opener on January 10.

And finally, congratulations to our former conference mate, Boise State, on a thrilling win over Oklahoma last night in the Fiesta Bowl. It just goes to show that non-BCS teams can compete with the BCS programs and reinforces our belief here at SMU that we, too, can become a top-25 program in the near future.

Until next time, GO MUSTANGS!