There’s no confirmation yet on the rumor that beginning in 2011 SMU will play two home games a year in Honolulu.
OK, that’s not a rumor. But to hear coach June Jones talk, he wouldn’t mind it. SMU could be “ Hawaii’s (Mainland) Team,” “The Mango Mustangs,” and wear special green jerseys. Cool, huh?
I mention this because Sheraton Hawaii Bowl talk, around since August, is now spreading like H1N1. And I’m not sure why. In post-game comments after Saturday’s win over East Carolina Jones said, “We’re halfway to our goal of going to Honolulu.”
Just a mahalo minute.
Is aiming for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl still best for SMU?
SMU is 2-0 in Conference USA. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl gets the conference champion. So what about the Liberty Bowl, Coach? “I’d go to Honolulu,” Jones laughed, before adding, “We’ll take as many as we can win.”
I know I’m getting the cart way before the pineapple, but what happens if SMU beats Navy, then pulls one out at Houston the next week? Now you’re 5-2, 3-0 in the conference. Does Jones repeat the “goal of going to Honolulu” mantra?
And what if on November 28 SMU has seven wins and is playing for the West division championship against Tulane? Sure, the Mustangs play hard to win - and should win. But say, somehow, they spit the bit and lose after having said all year they wanted to go to Hawaii?
What’s the perception? And who needs it?
(And God forbid there’s guava nectar iced down in the post-game locker room.)
Shoot for the Liberty Bowl, guys - until it’s no longer an option. I’m sure you’re doing that, it just doesn’t always sound like it.
And there’s this: many more long-suffering Mustang fans would travel to a mainland bowl game and, except for one C- USA bowl, SMU’s strapped athletic budget would net more cash. (See Notes.)
Speaking of moolah, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth pays the same as Hawaii and the travel cost is … what travel cost? (SMU couldn’t party like it’s 1984 - the Mustangs’ last bowl year - in Cowtown on New Year’s Eve?)
Not complaining. I love Hawaii and it’s great to be talking about a bowl – any bowl. Just a little poi to chew on.
C-USA Bowl tie-ins with approx. ‘08 payouts (ea. team), in reverse chronological order -
*AutoZone LibertyBowl, Jan. 2, 2010, Memphis; C-USA vs. SEC; $1.8 million
* Bell Helicopter AF Bowl, Dec. 31, 2009, Ft. Worth; C-USA vs. MWC; $750,000
* Texas Bowl, Dec. 31, 2009, Houston; Big 12 vs. Navy/C-USA; $750,000
Rick Atkinson is a freelance writer and editorial cartoonist. His stories have been featured in newspapers across Texas including Sherman, Midland, Wylie, Port Arthur and Borger, as well as on mckinneynews.net.
He's covered high school sports for various newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News, since 2002.
Rick has covered SMU football and basketball for cusa-fans.com for three years. His stories on former SMU greats have also appeared there and on smumustangs.com.
Rick's cartoons have been featured in Sherman's Herald Democrat, SMU's Daily Campus, The Wylie News, theheckler.com and The Texas Herald. His high school
football cartoons have appeared in The Herald Democrat each fall for seven years.
He's a 1974 grad of Sherman High School and graduated SMU in 1978. Rick played trumpet in SMU's Mustang Band.
After college, he was an officer in The Marine Corps for ten years, serving as a helicopter pilot in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and making two ship-board deployments to the Western Pacific. Rick was later a fixed-wing instructor pilot at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas.
He was a commercial airline pilot for American Airlines for 13 years.
An SMU fan since he can remember, Rick is certain the Mustangs will rise again - and soon.
He and his wife of 20 years, Debbie, live in McKinney, Texas.