Friday, March 30, 2007

The Boulevard

by Steve Orsini, Director of Athletics

It’s been a while, but I’m glad to be back. I hope everyone has enjoyed our new bloggers. I really think they add to the blog.

By now, several of you have probably received our season ticket renewal plan and accompanying parking plan. I can tell by the postings on the message boards that a few of you may disagree with our decisions regarding the Boulevard. While these were tough decisions, they were decisions that had to be made. When I came to SMU, I was given the challenge of developing a program that is top-25 across the board. To do this, we have to increase our revenues. Our fans should know that everything we do is geared towards reaching that top-25 standard. The revenues we generate will be invested in the programs you support and love.

In the past few months, we have made numerous investments in our football program, including the addition of a new Assistant Coach, a Director of High School Relations, an On-Campus Recruiting Coordinator and three new Strength Coaches. We will also be implementing an aggressive marketing campaign to help grow our fan base and get the SMU brand out to the Dallas community and beyond. The process of becoming a top-25 program requires resources – to get there and to maintain it.

This plan took time to develop. To begin the process, we surveyed members of the Mustang Club, the athletic department and the co-chairmen of the original traditions committee. After evaluating the findings, we worked collaboratively to come up with a new tailgating plan that we could all agree on.

Our new parking plan will help solve a few problems we encountered last year. First and foremost, we’re creating new areas for tailgating. Last season, only a little over 100 groups of fans were able to have a reserved parking spot with an adjacent tailgating spot. For many fans and visitors to the SMU campus, tailgating with convenient parking was unavailable. Our new plan offers choices for all budgets when it comes to parking and tailgating on our beautiful campus on game days.

We also began to have problems with individuals tailgating in areas that were previously “sold” to others. Unfortunately, Boulevard rules, as previously written, hindered our ability to regulate these spaces. To solve this, all tailgating spots will be reserved starting in 2007 and these spots will be protected by SMU P.D. and our gameday security.

The plan should also make it easier to find a place to park as our attendance grows – and it will grow. Our parking plan now mirrors game day parking at most major universities and positions us for success as our program continues to improve. In an effort to enhance the fan experience on the Boulevard, we will also be providing convenient, premium portable restrooms and establish a center walkway the length of the Boulevard.

We thank you again for your support of these changes we are making and look forward to seeing you this fall for exciting collegiate football on the Hilltop. Until then, GO MUSTANGS!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Inconsistent Themes

by Jeff Konya, Associate A.D./Compliance

I understand America’s obsession with all things gambling. I really do. At 2 a.m., I can watch meaningless poker on ESPN2 and, for some unknown reason, start cheering for the Degree “All In” Moment.
But, with my job in SMU Athletics, as well as the given vocations of the other athletics staff members, coaches and student-athletes, NCAA rules strictly prohibit sports gambling or wagering. For example, the NCAA rulebook restricts the ability of such “athletically-tagged” individuals from providing information to those involved in organized gambling (just google Tulane, Northwestern, or Arizona State point shaving), soliciting or accepting a bet on any team for any item (e.g., cash, shirt, dinner) that has a tangible benefit or participating in a gambling activity that involves intercollegiate or professional athletics through a bookmaker, parlay card or any other method employed by legalized gambling (just google Washington Huskies). In fact, just this week, SMU athletics will be fortunate to bring the NCAA Associate Director for Gambling and a current FBI Agent who tracks the betting lines and conducts investigations to the Hilltop for some discussions with our athletes and staff as part of our Champs Life Skills program.

So, we are doing our part for education. But what about the gurus at the Women’s Sports Foundation?

Let me get this straight, this organization wants you to fill out a March Madness bracket and in doing so, you make a donation to their organization. OK, sounds great. Now, what if I told you this organization has partnered with the NCAA on several occasions and will continue to do so. To me, it doesn’t pass my personal smell test. The principles of gambling are so questionable that we, as an organization (i.e., NCAA), will legislate against it but we will allow one of our non-profit sports foundation partners to use the same gambling principles as the backbone of a marketing donation campaign. Yes, help sponsor girls at the youth level where they might one day grow to become a NCAA student-athlete by filling out this March Madness bracket. I can already hear Richard Sweet’s wonderfully melodic tone in my ear. Perhaps next year SMU Athletics will offer a similar March Madness donation campaign where you, the Mustang supporter, can fill out a bracket and “Bet on Ponies.” All I need to do is somehow convince the NCAA that the benevolence of donations can temporarily suspend the intent, content, substance and form of their own gambling legislation. Bet on it!

Last IPOD music download- “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley

Friday, March 09, 2007

Not Bored With The Message Board

by Richard Sweet, Associate A.D. for Marketing & Public Relations

I like as a complement to our official site, I think it’s a well-run site and I appreciate the feature articles that are appear on the site. I have been so caught up in the work that I’m doing at SMU, I rarely have time to be a fan. Believe it or not, provides some of the insight and entertainment I’m looking for after a long day at the office.

Working in college athletics is no easy task folks. Hopefully when the toughest of the work is done here, I’ll get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor as we play for championships in front of sold-out stadiums (there are some of the hardest-working people I ever been associated with working in this department to make Mustang fans’ dreams come true).

Oh yes, the message board on… it has become incredibly interesting, entertaining, frustrating, and heartbreaking to me now that I visit it as an employee of the athletic department. I had been visiting for years as an interested fan and now I visit it for another reason as well. For years, marketers craved instant feedback from customers who had just experienced their product. The internet and sites like provides just that. It’s a review by some of our best (and sometimes toughest) critics. Correctly filtered, it provides very useful information… filtered I said. As an insider now, I’m amazed at how on-track some of the know-it-alls are and how far off-track other know-it-alls are. Sometimes the same know-it-all is on- and off-track on the same topic. I laugh out loud as I read it, curse as I read it, I almost shed a tear as I read it… I said “almost” because we all know there is no crying in baseball… oh wait, we don't have baseball… I’ll bet someone posts about baseball… again. I’m amazed by the knowledge, shocked by the cruelty, saddened by the naivety, and ultimately satisfied by a topic’s self-correctibility (I love to make up words; it’s a sign of creativity).

In the end, the message board provides entertainment, market research, and word-of-mouth marketing. It provides a great place to keep fans engaged, allows them to argue, show off, or make fools of themselves. The best thing does is gets fans ready for the next game - Beat Tech!

Gotta go… gotta find out the latest on the 8-foot, 10-inch point guard Rivals has quoted as being “mildly” interested in SMU.

What did we do with our time before Al Gore invented the internet?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Spring Ball!

by Brad Sutton, Asst. A.D./Media Relations

Spring football is here. It’s always a great time of year. When August rolls around it’s always like a million degrees outside, making a less-than-pleasant environment for someone to watch practice and “evaluate” the team. Spring practice, on the other hand, is great weather-wise. I absolutely love getting out there to watch our practices.

On the subject of football, a few people have asked me about the spring prospectus. This year, we’re going to do something a little different – a spring wrap-up. That’s what we did at a couple of other schools where I worked and I like it. It also fits with Coach’s wishes. With so many guys competing at spots, any sort of depth chart would have to list four or five guys at some spots and just wouldn’t truly represent where we stand. As much as I’m sure you love to read my writing, I know what most fans want is that depth chart and we just don’t have one set right now. Keep your eyes peeled, though, we’ll get it done early next month.

For now, you can see an updated roster here.