We were out this morning visiting with June Jones and a couple of the Mustang football players. The turnaround is happening right before our eyes, SMU has a 4-4 record, including 3-1 in Conference USA.
We knew Jones would turn the SMU program around -- that's what he does. And they still have some work to do, because while they've won some close games this year, they've also lost a couple in overtime. But coming off back-to-back 1-11 seasons, the program is heading in the right direction. In our interview, Jones said, "I just believe so much more - not the x's and o's, not the football stuff, everybody does that, the coaches before me have been good football coaches. It's more about getting the mindset changed and the culture of everything, not just the locker room, not just the kids, but the school, the traditions, everything. It's like re-branding in a way who you are, and you have to change a lot of things."
Looking ahead, the Mustangs have three of their final four games at home, including games against Rice (0-8, 0-4) and Tulane (2-6, 0-4). Winning those games will get SMU to 6 wins, which wasn't enough to get the team into a bowl game in 2006. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders told me, "You talk about 6 wins, but I'm going for 7, maybe even 8. I'm not going to put a limit on it because we went 6-6 my redshirt freshman year and we didn't get into a bowl, so we definitely got to get 7 so we are in control of it."
Center Mitch Enright is a 5th year senior, and he's enjoying this year after suffering through two straight 1-11 seasons. "It's remarkable what winning will do. Anytime you start a season -- at this point last year, the past 2 years, we were 1-7 each year and it's hard to get excited about the games, but now that we've won some conference games, winning on the road a little bit this year, the attitude is different. Everything is different."