For years, SMU has been tapped as an "attractive" program, filled with past success and in a plum location in the heart of Dallas. Legends such as Eric Dickerson, Doak Walker, and Craig James have passed through, leading the program to sky high success.
June Jones executed a huge turnaround, but only got to a certain point before the bottom fell out. Under Jones, unlike past coaches, admissions standards were relaxed to allow him more freedom to recruit athletes whose high school academic performance might not have been enough to get them into SMU.
SMU is in a precarious spot. Two Texas football programs, North Texas, and more recently UTSA, have passed it by. Recent success with the basketball (and football) program showed that SMU is willing to spend and take a risk to bring in a coach that will turn the Mustangs into the hottest thing in Dallas since Trinity Groves (a hot restaurant area). The question now is, what does $2 million buy? And which coaches should be on SMU's list.
Tier 1- The Obvious Answers
Chad Morris- Offensive Coordinator- Clemson- Morris has it all; he's young (45), energetic, experience with a big program, and most importantly, Texas ties. He coached for 15 years in the Texas high school ranks before moving on to Tulsa, and is a Texas A&M alum. His contract pays him $1.3 million a year right now, and SMU could certainly afford a pay bump. The question is, is THIS the job he wants back in Texas? Rumor has it that it's Morris's job if he wants it.
Jake Spavital- Offensive Coordinator- Texas A&M- Spavital is even younger (29!!!) than Morris, comes from a hell of an offensive pedigree (coached under Sumlin, Holgerson, Kliff Kingsbury AND Gus Malzahn) and has had incredible success (yes, very vague, I know). The jury is out to see how Spavital configures the A&M offense post- Johnny Football (though Kenny Hill is doing a pretty nice job), and would he take the SMU job, or bide his time until Sumlin leaves for the NFL?
Mark Hudspeth- Head Coach- University of Louisiana-Lafayette- Why not? Another young coach, who's made a consistent winner out of the Rajun Cajuns (same 9-4 record for the past three years). He's thought of as an offensive mastermind, and has to be looking outside the boot for other opportunities. Does he wait until the end of the year, when a major program (possibly in the SEC....) comes calling?
Philip Montgomery- Offensive Coordinator- Baylor- Let's see.... young guy (36), runs one of the strongest offenses in the nation (Baylor), has Texas ties, and might come cheap.
Tier 2- The Retreads
Houston Nutt- He hasn't coached since 2011, but was a winning coach at Arkansas, and Ole Miss for two seasons. Is he itching to get back into coaching, or would he also wait for yet another SEC opening?
Butch Davis- Another proven winner, at Miami and UNC (until the misconduct scandal came out), Davis would be another nice redemption story. Heck, he even won with the Cleveland Browns! His Texas ties come from coaching the Dallas Cowboys in their heyday, but would he inspire any excitement among SMU fans?
Mario Cristobal- Offensive Line Coach- Alabama- I admired the work he did building FIU, and many believed his firing was unjust. He doesn't have much in the way of Texas ties, so would he rather wait for a Florida opening.
Tier 3- Mack Brown
Let's see... 16 years building Texas ties, a national championship, a media charmer (unlike Jones), and a hire that would certainly make waves in the college football world. Does Mack have it in him to come back? Probably not, but Pony fans can dream.
He Would Probably Do It If They Asked Him
Craig James- He loves SMU. SMU loves him. And he's tried everything else- from TV analyst to a failed US Senate bid. Why not let one half of the Pony Express ride again? (Please God, for the love of Twitter sound bites, yes!)