SMU Needs A Coach

Smoo lost Chad Morris to Arkansas today and the relatively pedestrian record he put up on the Hilltop (14-22) reminded me of a quote I read by June Jones recently while going down an internet rabbit hole.

From an interview with Sports Illustrated following June Jones’ resignation:

How do you view your time at SMU?

Well, we became relevant again. We went to four bowls in four years and we were like three plays away from going five years in a row. They got some issues at SMU that they’ve got to overcome, and I don’t know if they will ever overcome them. But I know one thing, what we did was miraculous and I’m not looking back on it in any other way than that.

What were those issues?

All the things that I’ve said before, they’ve got to help the kids. They’ve got to get some tutors, academics more toward the student-athletes. They’ve made strides in that area, but they’ve got to go a lot further … The campus is unbelievable. It’s just a tough gig. It will be tough for the next guy, too.

It turns out it is, in fact, a tough gig.

Adam Grosbard of the DMN called this kind of thing inevitable for schools of this type. When he was hired there was a hope he would do more for the Ponies and he has only had the one really decent season despite making a few splashes in recruiting.

Kevin Sherrington wrote that SMU could have tried harder to keep him, what with the terrible attendance and relatively lagging facilities.

Fans simply didn’t support Morris’ efforts. Wouldn’t even come in from the Boulevard. Until they make that short walk, it’ll be difficult to hire — much less keep — a good coach.

Why We Care

Well, of course SMU is a rival and we care that they are in a moment of change. Chad Morris came in after Dan McCarney helped seal the end of the June Jones run. Morris got a three wins over NT in his time, thanks to some rebuilding and some poor execution. Still, SMU never pulled away from NT during the Mean Green’s absolutely terrible season.

While 7-5 in the AAC may be more impressive to those who know, the absolute numbers matter more to the causal fan. SMU will be bowling in Frisco against La Tech — a CUSA opponent — while NT will be letting the good times roll in New Orleans.

Whatever you think of Bowl Season, I know which one is more impressive.

Brett Vito did the blog equivalent of retweeting the Horns 247 report and adding It doesn’t surprise me a bit that his name is being mentioned, though.

Who, exactly is doing this mentionin’?

We’re hearing SMU’s Chad Morris is headed to Arkansas to replace Bret Bielema, and multiple well-connected sources at SMU have told Horns247 that Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando is under consideration to replace Morris.

Along with Orlando, SMU interim head coach Jeff Traylor, who was an assistant at Texas under Charlie Strong for two seasons (2015, 2016), North Texas head coach Seth Littrell, UTSA head coach Frank Wilson and former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin are among the possible replacements to fill the vacancy, sources said.

I do not know who the inside source is at SMU but they sure are just listing the closest coaches available. The Texas coordinator, the interim guy, the guy across town, the guy down the way, and the guy who just got fired at the second biggest school in the state.

Either SMU is doing the most generic search or the source is simply throwing names out there.

Whatever the case, I do not think Seth Littrell makes the move to Dallas. He would get a pay raise but also be dealing with a completely different social class of person. Seth wanted to talk NASCAR at the coaching meet-and-greet. That seem like the conversation that goes on in the BMWs of the Park Cities?

SMU is in a tough spot, and will be for the foreseeable future. For all the criticism everyone gave June Jones for the end of his tenure, he was right about his time: He did a good job in a tough gig and it is a lot harder to win at SMU than people think. SMU does not get to bring in Texas and Oklahoma every other year and the last 20 years have looked more like North Texas than like the schools they like to compare themselves with.

Parallels With SMU

SMU record since 1996: 96 – 166 – 5 bowls (including this year)
NT record since 1996: 96 – 167 – 6 bowls (including this year)

I do not see how SMU would be a completely better job for Seth Littrell at this point. The move to the AAC does nothing for his resume that a CUSA title next year over Lane Kiffin’s FAU would not do. The money is better, but the challenge is daunting while the recruiting is more difficult and the apathy is appalling.