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The Big 12’s Next Target Should be the SMU Mustangs

The football team has one loss.

The basketball team has, in recent memory, been a top 10 team in the nation.

It’s academics are currently at No.68 in the national rankings.

President George W. Bush selected this school as the place to put his library.

It’s in Dallas.

The football program has two national championships, and it has a Heisman Trophy winner.

Despite all of this, SMU is nowhere to be seen in the conference realignment landscape.


The odd part is, it should be the hottest commodity for all Power Five conferences. SMU should be a hotter commodity than all four future members of the Big 12 Conference.


If you haven’t seen the 30 For 30 documentary Pony Exce$$, then you likely need to go watch that film. NIL has legalized the opportunity for boosters to pay players. This is exactly what destroyed SMU in the 1980s, ultimately resulting in what is known as “The Death Penalty”. In 1987, SMU was given a two-year ban from varsity football competing in the NCAA because its boosters continued to pay players despite warning after warning and penalty after penalty. The NCAA felt that SMU’s boosters had a complete disregard for the rules of amateur athletics that they had to do the unthinkable: place the team into insolvency. SMU brought back the program in 1989, but the death penalty still effects this program today. In the 1980s, SMU was ahead of Texas Tech, Houston and TCU. There could be an argument that SMU was on the same level as Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Without the death penalty, SMU might’ve been invited to the SEC this year. Now, there’s no telling what could happen 30 years down the road. You get the point though. The SEC will soon have three of the Southwest Conference’s best 1980s programs. SMU being the odd man out.

So the question lies: Why?


Why isn’t SMU a hot commodity? Why are they being left out? Finally, where are the boosters? The school’s alumni base produces some of the wealthiest people in Texas. It sits in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Dallas: University Park. It is now legal for the boosters to pay players. Alabama’s Bryce Young is worth $1 million and he’s just 19 years old. When a conversation comes up about schools paying players, SMU is the poster child. Rumors have swirled for decades that Eric Dickerson took a pay cut when he made it to the NFL.

With NIL making it legal for student-athletes to make revenue off their name, image and likeness, SMU should be at the top of every recruit’s list of schools. Because it’s not in a Power Five conference, the Mustangs are not. SMU can return to glory. If invited to a Power Five conference, it can shoot straight up to the top of any conference. Yes, it could compete with Alabama for SEC titles. We’ve seen it happen before.


So, where are the SMU boosters? Why aren’t they winning over the Power Five conferences? This is certain. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when SMU will be in a Power Five conference. It may very well be that the SMU boosters are holding their cards close to their vests. They might be waiting for conferences to come to them. It would be wise for the Big 12 Conference to start making that move. Soon, a desperate ACC is going to want into Texas. The SEC could destroy TCU and the Big 12 if they pick up SMU. If you think about it, the Big 12 has entered the market of every Power Five conference. UCF lies in the SEC and ACC territory. Cincinnati is in the heart of the Big Ten market. BYU is in the Pac-12 market. The Big 12 Conference needs to pick up SMU as a preventative measure to defend itself against the ACC and the SEC. With Texas and Oklahoma departing from the Big 12, the SEC owns the Dallas market. If the Big 12 were to add SMU, it would regain a bit of that market back. Don’t think for a second that Houston is Big 12 territory because Tillman Fertitta says it is. Texas and Texas A&M own the Houston market. The Cougars don’t even outnumber the Texas Tech base in Houston. The State of Texas is an SEC market. Adding the SMU Mustangs can change that.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby needs to start talking with SMU boosters, and he needs to start those conversations soon. SMU can be one of the best athletic programs in the nation, and when it becomes a Power Five school, it will be.

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