The SMU Perspective

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Not a lot of  Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl news going on out there, so I'll try to touch on the few items I read about SMU. 

I had been wondering about SMU's thoughts on the ESPN 30 for 30 film Pony Excess. June Jones talked to the Dallas News about the film's effect on this year's recruiting class.

Army coach Rich Ellerson recounted Sunday a story from when he and SMU coach June Jones were young coaches at Hawaii, preparing to face Air Force, a triple-option team.

"I remember in the locker room, June saying, 'I hate this offense,' " Ellerson said. "I remember saying, 'I love this offense. I hate to play against it.' Here we are, umpteen years later, getting ready to get after each other."

Ellerson, now a master of the option offense, will lead his resurgent Black Knights against Jones' up-and-coming SMU program and its Run and Shoot offense Dec. 30 in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.


Rave review: Jones gave Pony Excess a rave review and said the ESPN "30 for 30" documentary on SMU's recruiting scandals of the 1980s became an instant recruiting tool. SMU had 15 or so recruits visit over the weekend, and Saturday night's broadcast couldn't have come at a better time, Jones said.

"I thought it was pretty awesome," Jones said. "These kids weren't even born, but they didn't know the history, that SMU was the best in the country at one time. The energy the next morning after the show with them was off the charts.

"You cannot buy that kind of publicity. We're still being replayed right now. When we go on the road, in airports, people go, 'Where's SMU? What is that, what does that stand for?' ... That whole part of the show just changed that."

Jones said the negative aspect of the story bothers some on campus.

"I'm sure there's some people at SMU that didn't particularly care for it being dragged out again," he said. "But the end result is that it's positive for us right now."

It's easy for Jones to not mind the exposure as he one of the few SMU partisans viewed in a favorable light in the entire movie. With that said, what happened at SMU went down a long time ago and the school paid dearly for their rules violations. In the last 9 or so years I have become very aware of SMU's effort to return to the postseason and by casually following their story I've become a bit of an SMU fan. I don't go out of my way to watch SMU games, and win or lose it's their deal, not mine. But I find it hard to root against them knowing how good the Mustangs were and how far they had fallen. At any rate, you may have the chance to watch Pony Excess between now and the bowl game and if you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor - watch this documentary. There has been a grand total of one ESPN 30 for 30 movies that didn't entertain and educate me and the 30 for 30 film The Two Escobars ranks among the best movies I have ever seen - certainly one of the top documentaries I have ever seen. So if you haven't seen it, watch it, it's a very entertaining film.

CSTV takes Coach Jones to task about his "hatred" for the option offense in this enlightening Q&A.

Q: Do you like playing triple option offenses, going up against them?

A: You know, it's one of those things during the year that you usually get some guys rolled up or get some guys hurt in the front seven with all the cutting and all the things that go on with it. So you kind of take a beating the next week whenever you go play.

But all in all, I think the advantage of playing the Academy outweighs all the things about the offense. When I was in Hawaii, the only time we got any newspaper coverage was playing Air Force, Army or Navy, and it would be on the front page of the New York Times. They normally wouldn't even cover our games because they were so late, but they always covered those, so it was important. Since I've come to SMU, when we play Navy, it's in everybody's newspaper and the TV coverage. So it's all positive for the school.

June Jones is wary of the option offense.

"The triple option is a very difficult offense to prepare for," Jones said. "I'm glad we have time to prepare for it. We also played against it at Navy. This will be a better situation for us. I know Rich very well. He will have some new little wrinkles and some little things by the time we get to game day."

And both coaches are aware of what postseason play means to developing a program.

"The young guys, you get an extra spring practice almost," SMU coach June Jones said. "You get a chance for them to live in January through March with a good feeling and a chance for them to say, 'Hey, we've got to get back to that bowl situation next year.' It breeds more of that."


One Last Look Back

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I suppose it's time to get over the Navy/Army game
As with any wound it's important to clean the injury up before you put a bandage on it and this post is going to attempt to do that regarding the last loss. Here are the game recaps for Navy/Army 2010.

TheReporterOnline touches on some one Navy/Army game record.

John Howell (Lansdale Catholic), a sophomore at Navy, caught the longest reception in the Army/Navy series with a 77-yard TD reception in a 31-17 Navy win. It was only Howell’s second reception of the season. He does have 11 carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns.

The Recap touches on another game record.

The Midshipmen (9-3) fumbled the ball away on their next series and Army drove to the Navy 3, when - on first-and-goal - Navy senior Wyatt Middleton picked up a fumble by Steelman and rumbled 98 yards for a touchdown.
It was the longest fumble recovery in the history of the Naval Academy and gave the Midshipmen a 24-7 lead with 1:03 left in the half.
"Our backs were against the wall," Middleton said. "From being at the [3-yard line], it's like, 'Aw, man, they're about to score on us.' Then, all of a sudden, we score a touchdown . . . My emotions were at a high peak right there."

Sure, it's clear that Philly loves Army/Navy Navy/Army, but the website of that name apparently didn't love it enough to write up the actual game.

Personally, I love when writes on Army football.

Even though the Black Knights did not secure a victory this year, falling to the Mids 31-17, they will go on and fight another day, taking on the Southern Methodist University Mustangs Dec. 30, in their first bowl appearance since 1996.

The game is what brings these two great institutions together every year on a neutral site, yet the game embodies so much more than just football. For one Saturday afternoon in early December, the country and audiences in far-off lands get an opportunity to sit back and see what Army and Navy football players play for and what they represent and stand for. 

The boys over at Presnap Read try to sell next year on us -

Yes, the gap has closed. At least a bit, though today’s results claim otherwise. No, the gap on the scoreboard hasn’t closed. Navy’s still quicker and faster, but Army’s improving — next year, maybe next year, the Cadets can get the better of the Midshipmen. For now, this rivalry continues to be all Navy.

To me that is a hard sell. Rich Ellerson has his toughest job ahead of him as there will be new starters across both lines and in key positions on defense. While a repeat act of 2010's results would make next year's season a ringing success for Army, counting on a year like that would only heap unrealistic expectations on fan and team alike.

The team can definitely make progress next year without capturing the CIC trophy, and may not even need to gain bowl eligibility to experience success, but a losing year loses the 15 extra bowl practices and could stunt the development of a team that is clearly 2 years away from taking the next stride in its progress.

Sal looks at the fumble return as the turning point of the game.

The uncharacteristic news outlets all got their fingers in the pie. I find it funny to see a football article by the Huffington Post, but press is press. If they keep up the USMA articles maybe more HuffPo readers will turn on to Army football 

Whether or not Army beats Navy next year we know Army is making progress, for now the Black Knights are going to have to quantify that progress in other terms. For at least one calendar year we've got to look to other manifestations of progress. That isn't to say Army can't compete with Navy, that is just saying that the Black Knights have manifest more progress until the next time Army plays Navy.

With that said, take a look at next year's slate.

9/03/11- at Northern Illinois

9/10/11- San Diego State

9/17/11 - Northwestern

9/24/11 - at Ball State

10/01/11 - Tulane

10/08/11 - at Miami (Ohio)

10/22/11 - at Vanderbilt

10/29/2011 - Fordham

11/5/11- at Air Force

11/12/11 - Rutgers (Bronx, NY)

11/19/11 - at Temple

12/10/11 - Navy (Washington, D.C.)

Some solid teams appear on the 2011 schedule, with notable games against Tulane at Michie Stadium (the last scheduled game of the series), vs. Rutgers at Yankee Stadium, and solid home dates against Northwestern and Fordham.

These teams may all be stronger next year than they were this year, but these are not powerhouse teams. Army has nothing to be afraid of next year and everything to play for. Lamenting Navy ended on Sunday, from here on out the theme will be for Army to just get better. Get better and quantify the progress.


The Unbalanced Line Final Rankings

Sunday, December 12, 2010

 A strange facet of the Blogpoll balloting interface has locked in my last submission as the end-all ranking for the 2011 season. This week I go rogue in an effort to publish my actual end of season rankings

In terms of ranking, this time there is just one switch, Navy jumps up one spot and takes over the #20 spot of the top ranked Big East team. WVU slides down a spot and the top 25 is final for the year.

I don't know if I'll change the rankings after the bowls, but we will see if I am able and willing to rerank the teams after the bowl season.

Here it is then, the Unbalanced Line final standings for the 2010 season.

Army Navy Wrap Up

Well, that was fun.

In all honesty I did enjoy the game, though I seldom felt like Army was on the verge of breaking through. 

Ugh, the sick irony of the Beetle Bailey headline banner picture juxtaposed with that 98 yard fumble return. Absolutely crushing. Due to that and the current 9 year streak of losses, the rivalry will now be referred to as the Navy/Army game on this site until further notice.

Regardless, I'm here to spin positive. The team has 15 extra practices coming their way and the seniors will close out their careers with one last tilt in Dallas. The Navy loss will sting, but this team will get over it. You want motivation? I would hate to be the Mustangs on Dec 30th. The loss to Navy makes the Armed Forces Bowl a must win game for the Black Knights.

This team has the impetus to go out and earn themselves a winning season, the success of Army's 2010 campaign depends on it.

As for Navy, they have solidified their status as my 3rd most hated NCAA football team.

Congratulations to the Mids, they earned the win.

Your 2010 Navy/Army story, stats and highlights.



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