TMG NEWSMAKER OF THE WEEK: SMU

SMU is the only school which has ever been hit with the NCAA "death penalty''. The Mustangs are back--to a point.I

In the grand scheme of things, the comeback--trailing 30--9 in the third quarter--of their 43-37 triple overtime victory on Saturday against Tulsa, was impressive, but not overwhelming.

And their 6-0 record is worth noting in a conference which has been dominated the past few seasons by UCF.

And so is their national ranking (No. 21 in the AP and No. 22 in the Coaches poll).

All good things, but how special?

Middle of the road, probably

What is noteworthy about the current status of the SMU Mustangs is when the journey started.

It wasn't in August.

It wasn't last season.

It wasn't 10 years ago.

It wasn't 20 years ago.

In fact, you need to go all the way back to 1986 to find the last time SMU was ranked, which was a year before the world came crashing down on a program that the NCAA felt was so corrupt, so riddled with rule breakers that the only alternative was to shut the entire operation down by imposing (for the first and only time) the "Death Penalty'' clause.

I was working in Dallas when SMU was as good as any program in the country, with a "Pony Express'' backfield of Craig James and Eric Dickerson and as it was later revealed a Payroll'' to meet funded by over zealous boosters.

I was there in 1987 when the NCAA came in and closed the place for football.

The sanctions had their desired affect. It all but killed football in an area which has been as intense as any in the country with Southwest Conference football the main college attraction throughout the great state of Texas.

Since then, SMU has been a bit player in college football. The Mustangs' conference is the American Athletic Conference, which is a Group of 5, not Power 5 league.

The crowds are smaller, the attention sporadic at best. SMU keeps trying and has attempted to climb back to a level of respectability, but it hasn't been easy.

Coach Sonny Dykes, who took over at the end of 2017 is again in the building mold. The Mustangs were a somewhat competitive 5-7 last season and have already surpassed that mark at the halfway point of this season.

They enticed quarterback Shane Buechele as a graduate transfer from Texas, which is obviously a key reason for the quick start. Buechele completed 23 of 40 passes for 280 yards against Tulsa, including fourth quarter and overtime drives.

The second half of the schedule, which includes unbeaten Memphis and tough teams such as Temple the next few weeks, this might be the high water mark for SMU.

For that reason,and for how far they have come, the Mustangs are TMG's Newsmaker of the Week.

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