Dallas should bet on June Jones and SMU athletics
There has been a lot of heartache and disappointment since the NCAA imposed the death penalty on the SMU football program. But a coaching change has brought an optimism to the school that has been nonexistent since the days of the Pony Express.
On Monday, SMU announced the hiring of June Jones as their new head football coach. At no time did I think Jones would come to SMU, but when I heard who SMU athletic director called the MVP of the process it all made sense – Lee Steinberg. Lee Steinberg was Jerry Maguire before Tom Cruise ever read the script, so he made sure the dollars made sense.
"Harvard on the Hilltop" offers opportunities for Dallas to increase its participation in college sports. The State Fair football games, Big 12 basketball tournaments, as well as NCAA hoops regionals have proven Dallas can host big time college events.
But I have it from good authority inside the SMU program that the City of Dallas has been reluctant to throw their full support behind SMU and Conference USA. I understand that SMU is not in 'Dallas' but neither is Texas Tech and they have found themselves playing at the AAC over the last few years. To be fair that was the old guard at city hall, so maybe the new folks might revisit SMU athletics.
I doubt that SMU football would be interested in moving a home game to Dallas, but there has to be a way for Dallas to lend a hand to the program's visibility. Since the Tom Landry (suburban) Classic has moved to Texas Stadium, maybe DISD could hold some type of high school football showdown at SMU's Ford Stadium.
The real opportunity is with basketball. I haven't seen anything to make me believe that SMU hoops is improving, but the city could tap into Conference USA. The Big 12 seems intent on using Oklahoma City and Kansas City as semi-permanent sites for their basketball tournament. Why wouldn't Conference USA want to hold their post season tournament in Big D?
Dallas, which once hosted the SWAC tournament at Loos Fieldhouse, could offer Conference USA world class facilities. This is where a Dallas Sports Authority would come in handy. Mr. Mayor I'd ask you to add that to your long list of things you're looking into for this year.