SMU Mustangs football

SMU Mustangs
2016 SMU Mustangs football team
First season 1915, 1989
Athletic director Rick Hart
Head coach Chad Morris
2nd year, 717 (.292)
Stadium Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Year built 2000
Seating capacity 32,000 +[1]
Field surface FieldTurf
Location Dallas, Texas
NCAA division Division I FBS
Conference The American
Division West
Past conferences Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (1915–17)
Southwest Conference (1918–95)
Western Athletic Conference (1996–2004)
Conference USA (2005–12)
All-time record 47752254 (.479)
Bowl record 771 (.500)
Claimed nat'l titles 3 (1935, 1981, 1982)
Conference titles 10
Division titles 2 (2009, 2010)
Rivalries TCU Horned Frogs
Heisman winners 1
Consensus All-Americans 16
Current uniform
Colors Blue and Red[2]
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 of the American Athletic Conference (The American).


1915–17: The early years

In June 1915, Ray Morrison became SMU's football, baseball, basketball, and track coach, in addition to being to a math instructor. The football team began as a member of the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association, playing at Armstrong Field. The first game played by SMU's football team was a 13-2 victory over Hendrix College. After winning two games in a span of two seasons, Morrison left SMU for Fort Oglethorpe upon the United States’ entry into World War I.

During this time, the football team was known as "the Parsons", due to the large number of theology students on the team. On October 17, 1917, the name "Mustangs" was selected as the school's mascot. For the 1917 season, Morrison would be replaced by J. Burton Rix, who would lead the Mustangs to a 3-2-3 record in their final season in the TIAA.

1918–21: Joining the Southwest Conference

The 1918 season would be the first of many seasons for the SMU Mustangs as a member of the Southwest Conference, joining Baylor University, Rice University, the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, the University of Arkansas, and Oklahoma A&M University. The Mustangs’ first season in the conference ended with a 4-2 record. J. Burton Rix would continue to coach the team until the 1921 season, in which he was replaced by W.A. Cunningham and Victor Kelly, his co-coaches that season, as the team went on to lose six games.

1922–34: The return of Morrison

Ray Morrison would return to SMU in 1922, co-coaching the team with former Vanderbilt teammate Ewing Y. Freeland. For the 1922 and 1923 seasons, Morrison would focus on the backfield and ends, while Freeland focused on the linemen. The team became known as the "Aerial Circus" by sportswriters because of Morrison's passing offense. Morrison would become known as "the father of the forward pass", due to the team's use of passing on first and second downs, instead of as a play of last resort. At the time, most teams utilized the forward pass five to six times in one game, while SMU would do so between 30 and 40 times.

In the 1922 season, the Mustangs would compile a 6-3-1 record. Furthermore, end Gene Bedford and back Logan Stollenwerck were named first-team All-Southwest Conference, becoming the first SMU football players to receive that honor. Bedford would go on to be the first player to play in the National Football League for the Rochester Jeffersons. In the 1923 season, the SMU Mustangs would go on to compile a perfect 9-0 record, winning their first conference football title in school history. After this season, Freeland would leave the SMU football team, later becoming head coach for the Texas Tech University football team, leaving Morrison as the sole head coach for SMU. SMU would go on to play in their first bowl game in 1924, playing in the Dixie Classic against West Virginia Wesleyan College, though would end up losing that game 7-9.

By 1926, the team began playing their home games at Ownby Stadium. In their first game at Ownby Stadium, the Mustangs defeated North Texas State Teachers College 42-0, led by quarterback Gerald Mann. The first Homecoming game would also be played in 1926, resulting in a 14-13 victory over Texas Christian University.

The team would continue to have winning seasons until the 1932 season. The Mustangs would win their second conference title in 1926, compiling an 8-0-1 record, and a third conference title in 1931, compiling a 9-0-1 record. In 1928, guard Choc Sanders would become SMU's first All-American, as well the first All-American from the Southwest Conference. In 1929, tackle Marion Hammon would become SMU's second All-American. After a winning 1934 season, Morrison left SMU to take over the Vanderbilt Commodores football team after the retirement of Dan McGugin.

1935–41: A national championship

Morrison would be replaced by Matty Bell in 1935. Known as a player's coach, Bell brought discipline to his team, and he spent time listening and talking to his players. In his first season, Bell would lead the Mustangs to 12-1 record. During this season, the Mustangs were ranked number one in the nation. In order to play in the Rose Bowl against the Stanford Indians football team for the unofficial national championship, SMU faced off against the TCU Horned Frogs, who featured star quarterback Sammy Baugh.

The 1935 SMU-TCU football game is generally considered the greatest game in SMU history, as Bobby Wilson scored two touchdowns to give SMU a 14–0 lead before Baugh rallied the Horned Frogs to a 14–14 tie. Early in the fourth quarter, Bob Finley connected on a long pass to Wilson after the Mustangs faced a fourth down at the TCU 39. Wilson caught the ball at the five and rolled into the endzone as the Mustangs held on to win, 20–14, and earned a trip to the Rose Bowl. Winning their fourth conference title, the Mustangs would go on to lose the Rose Bowl to Stanford 0-7. Despite this, the 1935 SMU Mustangs were selected by the Dickinson System as national champions, their first football national championship in school history.

The Mustangs had three more winning seasons from 1936 to 1939. SMU would come up short of winning the Southwest Conference title in 1940, despite having the same conference record as the Texas A&M Aggies. After a 5-5 season in 1941, Bell would leave SMU to serve in the United States Navy during World War II.

1942–44: The war years

With Bell in the Navy, Jimmy Stewart took his place as head coach. In his three seasons as head coach, Stewart compiled an overall record of 10–18–2. Bell would return as head coach for the 1945 season.

1945–49: Doak Walker

Upon Bell's return as SMU's head coach, the team also gained the talent of halfback and placekicker Doak Walker. Walker would win All-Southwest Conference honors his freshman year in 1945 and play in the East–West Shrine Game in San Francisco. Walker would not play for the 1946 season due to serving in the United States Army, yet re-enrolled at SMU and rejoined the football team for the 1947 season.

The Mustangs would post a 9-0-2 record in 1947, winning their sixth Southwest Conference title. In the same season, the team would play against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Cotton Bowl Classic, resulting in a 13-13 tie. Walker threw a 53-yard touchdown pass and scored on two-yard run in this game. Walker would also earn the Maxwell Award during this season.

During the 1948 season, the Mustangs would win their seventh conference title, posting a 9-1-1 record. The team would go on to play in the Cotton Bowl Classic once more, defeating the Oregon Webfoots, who were led by quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, 21-13, making it their first victory in a bowl game in school history. Doak Walker, winning All-American honors, would also win the Heisman Trophy, the first Mustang to do so in school history. Additionally, the Mustangs would permanently move to the Cotton Bowl for their home games this season, after playing only certain games in that stadium in years past. In their final game at Ownby Stadium, the Mustangs would defeat Texas Tech 41-6. Due to Doak Walker's popularity, the Cotton Bowl became known as "The House that Doak Built".

The 1949 season would be both Doak Walker and coach Matty Bell's last as part of SMU's football team. The team would post a 5-4-1 record. Walker would win All-American honors a third time, the most for any football player in SMU's history. Bell would continue to serve SMU as the athletic director, while Walker would go on to play in the NFL for the Detroit Lions. Over the course of his career at SMU, Walker rushed for 1,954 yards, passed for 1,638 yards, scored 288 points, punted for a 39.4 average and kicked field goals and extra points. He is also the Mustangs' all-time leader in punt return yards with 750. Bell would leave the head coaching position at SMU with a 79-40-8 record, including three Southwest Conference titles, a bowl game victory, and a national championship.

1950–61: Russell, Woodard, and Meek eras

Bell would be replaced by Rusty Russell in 1950. Russell previously served as quarterbacks and running backs coach from 1945 to 1949, and is attributed to luring Doak Walker away from the University of Texas. In three seasons as head coach, Russell would compile a 13-15-2 record. After a strong first season, in which the Mustangs were ranked number one in the nation, the team would suffer two losing seasons. Becoming increasingly under fire, Russell resigned as head coach after the 1952 season.

However, it did not stop SMU players from achieving certain honors throughout Russell's time as head coach; Kyle Rote, who filled Doak Walker's place on the team, led the Southwest Conference with 777 yards rushing in 1949, and was named an All-American following the 1950 season. Quarterback Fred Benners led the Mustangs to perhaps their greatest win of the decade when he completed 22 of 42 passes for 336 yards to beat Notre Dame, 27–20, in Notre Dame, Indiana on October 13, 1951. Benners connected on TD passes of 57, 37, 31 and four yards to four different receivers as the Mustangs beat the Fighting Irish in what was one of the highlights in a 3–6–1 season. Furthermore, Forrest Gregg would become part of the team in 1952, and became a two-time All-Southwest Conference player by 1955, later moving on to the NFL. Moreover, David Powell would become SMU's first Academic All-American winner in the 1952 season.

Woody Woodard took Russell's place as head coach in 1953. Woodard would compile a 19-20-1 record in his four seasons as head coach for SMU, resigning after two consecutive losing seasons. During the 1954 season, wide receiver Raymond Berry was elected as a co-captain, despite only catching 11 passes for 144 yards, winning All-Southwest Conference and Academic All-American honors, and would later play in the NFL for the Baltimore Colts.

Woodard was replaced by Bill Meek in 1957, who was coming off of a Missouri Valley Conference title-winning season with the Houston Cougars football team. In five seasons with SMU, Meek compiled a 17-29-4 record. During Meek's time as head coach, quarterback Don Meredith would earn All-American honors in 1958 and 1959, with his .610 career completion percentage being the best of any passer in SMU history, with a tremendous running ability increasing pressure on opposing defenses. The 1960 season, though, proved particularly bad for the Mustangs, as they went 0-9-1, with the only game decided by less than 10 points being a 0–0 tie with Texas A&M. After the 1961 season, Meek would leave SMU, replaced by Hayden Fry.

1962–72: Hayden Fry era

Hayden Fry became the eighth head coach in SMU's history in 1962. The 1963 season provided the SMU football program with one of its most memorable games when the Mustangs hosted fourth-ranked the Navy Midshipmen and its quarterback, Roger Staubach, on October 11, 1963, at the Cotton Bowl. On its way to a 4–7 season, SMU was given little chance to beat the Midshipmen. Little-known sophomore John Roderick rushed for 146 yards on 11 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 45 and two yards for the Mustangs. The SMU defense, led by Bob Oyler, Martin Cude, Bill Harlan, Harold Magers and Doug January, sent Staubach to the bench twice with a dislocated left shoulder. Trailing 28–26 with 2:52 remaining in the game, SMU had one last chance to pull off the upset. Quarterback Danny Thomas threw to Billy Gannon, who ran to the Navy 46. On the next play, Roderick took a pitchout 23 yards to the 23. After a pass interference penalty against Navy put the ball on the one-yard line, Gannon plowed over the right tackle for the winning touchdown with 2:05 left. The SMU defense held off Staubach's effort to rally his team for one last score, as the Mustangs pulled off the 32–28 upset. Despite a losing record in 1963, the Mustangs played in the Sun Bowl, their first since the 1948 season, against the Oregon Webfoots, losing 14-21.

When Fry took the job at SMU, he was promised that he would be allowed to recruit black athletes. Fry and the school wanted to make certain that the player they recruited was not only a good athlete but also a good student and citizen and someone with the mental toughness to be one of the first black players in conference history. Fry found that player in Jerry LeVias. LeVias was a great player, an exceptional student, and mentally tough. He had never had discipline problems and was deeply religious. LeVias was the perfect player for SMU. LeVias became the first black player signed to a football scholarship in the Southwest Conference. In 1966, LeVias made his debut, one week after John Hill Westbrook of Baylor became the first black player to play for a conference team. Fry received abuse for recruiting a black player to SMU in the form of hate mail and threatening phone calls, but he downplayed the treatment, because the harassment of LeVias was much, much worse.

During the 1966 season, Hayden Fry lifted SMU back to national prominence, when SMU was ranked ninth in the nation and won its first conference championship in 18 years, their seventh overall. Fry would also win Conference Coach of the Year. SMU would go on to lose the Cotton Bowl Classic to the Georgia Bulldogs 9-24. John LaGrone, who earned conference honors from 1964–66, was the first Mustang player to be selected as both an All-American and Academic All-American when he was honored following the 1966 season.

During the 1968 season, combined with quarterback Chuck Hixson, Levias helped lead the Mustangs to a 28–27 win over Oklahoma in the 1968 Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl, giving SMU its first bowl victory since the 1949 Cotton Bowl Classic. SMU and Oklahoma combined to score 35 points in the fourth quarter. SMU stopped Oklahoma short of a potential game-winning two-point conversion with 1:16 left to play. LeVias was selected as an all-conference player as a senior for the third time.

Fry's Mustangs then had just a 12–20 record over the next three years from 1969–1971. That put Fry's job in jeopardy, and rumors started to swirl after the Mustangs started the 1972 season at 4–4. Not even a three-game winning streak could save Fry. After a 7–4 season in 1972, Fry was fired at SMU, which robbed the Mustangs of a bowl berth. In his 11 seasons at SMU, Fry compiled a 49–66–1 record.

1973–75: Dave Smith era

After Fry's departure, Dave Smith, a former assistant coach under Fry, took his place as head coach. Coming off of a 7-4 season with Oklahoma State, Smith would have two consecutive 6-4-1 seasons with SMU, with his final season resulting in a 4-7 record. In three seasons with SMU, Smith compiled a 16-15-2 record. Smith would be replaced by Ron Meyer in 1976.

1976–86: 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 70 or more of the top recruits per year. His most notable recruits were future NFL running backs 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 running back 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. In 1981, the Mustangs' performance earned them recognition by the National Championship Foundation as national champions, albeit unofficially as neither of the two major polls reflected this; the final Associated Press poll ranked SMU #5, four spots behind official national champion Clemson, and they were not ranked in the coaches' poll at all due to a rule forbidding teams on probation from consideration. [3]

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 the 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 as the Helms Athletic Foundation recognized SMU as champion instead of consensus champion Penn State; the Mustangs did, however, finish second in both the AP and coaches' polls.[3]

SMU posted a 49–9–1 record from 1980 to 1984, which was the highest win percentage (.839) in Division 1-A over that span.

1987–2007: "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 "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 potential student-athletes were poor, boosters would induce them to sign with SMU by offering them payments and expense coverage. Several key boosters and administration officials determined that it would not only be unethical to cut off those payments, but also potentially problematic as some boosters were contractually obligated to pay the athletes for the duration of their time at SMU. There was also the real potential of disgruntled football players "blowing the whistle" on SMU should the payments not continue. 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[4] 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.

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.

2008–2014: "There and Back Again"

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 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 move to the SEC in August and September 2011, SMU have made it known that they would like to replace them in the Big 12. On September 3, 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."[5]

SMU's interest in the Big 12 was never reciprocated, and the Big 12 instead added TCU and West Virginia University.

SMU went on to win back-to-back bowl games in the 2012 BBVA Compass Bowl (for the 2011 season) and 2012 Hawaii Bowl. SMU ended the Jones Era in 2014 the way it began: with a 1-11 season. The Mustangs won the last game of the season against the University of Connecticut on December 6, 2014.


SMU hired Chad Morris as head coach and announced his placement on December 1, 2014.[6] His first season resulted in a 2-10 record, a slight improvement from the 2014 season.


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.) Nonetheless, neither the 1981 nor 1982 claim is recognized by most observers, as the AP and Coaches poll winners are widely regarded as the national champion in college football circles.[3] SMU's claims in 1981 and 1982 are based on poll championships awarded by lesser known and/or obscure polling/ranking systems.

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


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 ‡ 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 Walker Halfback 1948
Doak Walker Halfback 1949
Kyle "The Mighty Mustang" Rote Halfback 1950
Dick Hightower Center 1951
Don "Dandy Don" Meredith Quarterback 1958
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

Current CFL 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
2011 2012 BBVA Compass Bowl Pittsburgh W 28 6
2012 2012 Hawaiʻi Bowl Fresno State W 43 10

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
Phil Bennett 2002–2007 18–52
June Jones 2008–2014 36–43
Tom Mason (Interim) 2014 1–9
Chad Morris 2015–present 6–14

Future non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of July 29, 2015

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
vs North Texas at North Texas vs North Texas at North Texas vs North Texas at North Texas vs North Texas at North Texas vs North Texas
at TCU at Michigan vs Texas State at Texas State
vs Arkansas State vs TCU at Arkansas State
vs Stephen F. Austin vs Houston Baptist




The SMU-TCU rivalry is the most intense one for SMU. The respective campuses are located 40 miles apart in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. TCU leads the all-time series 49–40–7. The SMU-TCU rivalries goes for all sports as well as recruiting students from the DFW area as SMU and TCU are the two top schools in the region in academics and sports.

The teams have played all but six years since their first meeting in 1915. They did not face each other in 1919, 1920, 1925, 1987, 1988, or 2006. Although no longer in the same conference, SMU and TCU agreed to play each season through 2017 on an alternating home-and-away basis.

TCU and SMU fans began the tradition back in 1946. During pre-game festivities, an SMU fan was frying frog legs as a joke before the game. A TCU fan, seeing this desecration of the "frog", went over and told him that eating the frog legs was going well beyond the rivalry and that they should let the game decide who would get the skillet and the frog legs. TCU won the game, and the skillet and frog legs went to TCU. The tradition eventually spilled over into the actual game and the Iron Skillet is now passed to the winner.


The SMU-Rice rivalry is a secondary one for both SMU (after TCU) and Rice (after Houston). However, it is a storied one based on the fact that SMU is located inside the city of Dallas and Rice is located in Houston, the anchors of Texas' two largest metropolitan areas. Notably, SMU and Rice are two of the smaller universities in NCAA Division I FBS. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Rice and SMU are consistently ranked the best two private universities in Texas.

In 1918 both schools joined the Southwest Conference, and from 1926 they played every year except for 1987 and 1988, after the NCAA gave SMU's football program the "death penalty" following a cheating scandal. They played in the same conference until 2013, beginning with the Southwest (1918–1996), then the Western Athletic Conference (1996–2005) and Conference USA (2005–2012). In that time they had met 90 times, with SMU leading 48–41–1.

In 1998 a traveling trophy, the "Mayor's Cup", was introduced to the series, and has been awarded to the winner each year. The Rice Owls currently hold the trophy after the 2012 game and lead the trophy series 9-6. However, the future of the trophy is unclear, as SMU left Conference USA for The American for the 2013 season, and no future games are scheduled.

Main article: Gansz Trophy

SMU and Navy have played each other 18 times with Navy leading the series 11-7. In 2009, the athletic departments of the United States Naval Academy and Southern Methodist University created the Gansz Trophy in honor of Frank Gansz who played linebacker at the Naval Academy from 1957 through 1959 and eventually the coaching staff at SMU.

Navy joined the American Athletic Conference in 2015 which allowed for this game to become a conference game.

North Texas

Main article: Safeway Bowl

Although SMU and North Texas share the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex as their home, this is seldom a rivalry. SMU leads the all-time series 30-5-1. The two teams have played 36 times dating back to 1922. The most recent meetings between the two teams occurred in 2015, with the Mustangs beating North Texas 31-13. After SMU moved to The American, North Texas was invited to Conference USA.

The game is often referred to as the Safeway Bowl which derives its name from a challenge from then North Texas head coach Matt Simon issued in 1994 after a two-year break in the series, stating "I'd like to play because I think we could beat them, and my players feel the same way. If they'd like to play on a Safeway parking lot ... just give us a date and time."

SMU and North Texas will play each other every year from 2014 to 2025 for a scheduled twelve-game series.

All-time records versus rivals

Team Rivalry name Trophy Games played First Meeting Last Meeting SMU Win SMU Loss Ties
TCU Horned Frogs none Iron Skillet 95 1915 2016 lost 3-33 40 49 7
Rice Owls none Mayor's Cup 90 1916 2012 lost 14-36 48 41 1
Baylor Bears none none 80 1916 2016 lost 13-40 36 39 7
Texas A&M Aggies none none 81 1916 2014 lost 6-58 29 45 7
Texas Longhorns none none 73 1916 1995 lost 10-35 22 47 4
Arkansas Razorbacks none none 73 1920 1999 lost 0-26 31 37 5
Texas Tech Red Raiders none none 49 1932 2013 lost 23-41 16 33 0
North Texas Mean Green Safeway Bowl none 36 1922 2016 won 34-21 30 5 1
Houston Cougars none none 30 1975 2016 won 38-16 11 19 1
Navy Midshipmen none Gansz Trophy 17 1930 2016 lost 31-75 7 11 0

Home fields


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