Ron Meyer was hired to become the head football coach of SMU. Meyer was an assistant coach on the Dallas Cowboys prior to coaching at SMU and wanted to bring a winning attitude to SMU.
Eric Dickerson, Craig James Commit to SMU.
During the 1979 recruiting season, SMU was able to recruit both Eric Dickerson and Craig James, two of the top players in the nation. Both players had shady recruitments. Dickerson was given a gold Trans-AM and James' girlfriend was given a scholarship at SMU so that he would follow her. The two players combined to make the "Pony Express," which is one of the greatest running back duos in college football history.
SMU Defeats Texas 20-6.
SMU defeats #2 Texas by a score of 20-6. SMU changed their offense to the wishbone, which allowed the talent of James, Dickerson, and McIlhenny to shine. This was the game that launched SMU football into being one of the nation's premier teams.
NCAA begins to investigate SMU football.
The NCAA launched their first investigation of SMU football quickly after defeating Texas for being "too good, too soon."
SMU put on probation for 1981, 1982 seasons.
The NCAA places SMU football on probation for the 1981 and 1982 seasons after their findings following the investigation after the Texas game. The NCAA found that players (29 accounts) were getting paid by boosters and coach Meyer vowed that "it would never happen again." SMU was not allowed to be on TV for the 1981 football season and also no bowl game for the same year.
Coach Ron Meyer leaves SMU football.
Coach Ron Meyer announces he will be taking the head coaching position of the NFL's New England Patriots. Meyer left behind a great SMU football team that was primed for a national title run. It is speculated that another NCAA investigation is what spurred him to make the move to the NFL.
Bobby Collins of Southern Miss takes SMU job.
Bobby Collins, coach of Southern Miss, was hired to replace Ron Meyer as head football coach at SMU. Many did not respect him as a coach, as they saw him as just a "hick from Mississippi" and this led to a change in the balance of power from coach to boosters and players.
NCAA interviews Sean Stopperich
Sean Stopperich, an offensive lineman on SMU from Pennsylvania gets interviewed by NCAA investigators after transferring at the end of his freshman year. Stopperich never truly wanted to go to SMU but committed because his family needed the money. However, when he did not get playing time, he became homesick and transferred back to Pennsylvania. The NCAA pounced at the oppurtunity to interview a disgruntled player from SMU.
SMU Boosters Hold Secret Meeting
Texas governer Bill Clements (a SMU booster) and real-estate expert Sherwood Blount (another booster) host a secret meeting amongst boosters. They decided to stop the cheating, as the NCAA penalties were getting harsher and harsher. Unfortunately, the boosters felt they couldn't stop the paying yet, as they had payrolls to meet with current players. Boosters felt that if they stopped paying players immediately, players would get disgruntled and talk to the NCAA like Stopperich did.
Clements banishes 9 boosters.
During the same meeting, Clements banished nine boosters from SMU in an attempt to get the NCAA off of their back. These nine, which were dubbed the "Naughty Nine" felt that this was a stab in the back by Governer Clements. Clements declared that the SMU football program was "clean".
NCAA punishes SMU for cheating once again
The NCAA punishes SMU for cheating, mainly revolving around the Sean Stopperich interview. Stopperich was able to give the NCAA the proof they needed to catch SMU. This was the harshest penalty ever given by the NCAA to date, as they banned scholarships for the first season and limited them to just 15 for the second season. In addition, they would have no bowl games or be on television for the 1985 and 1986 seasons. Clements once again told the NCAA that "it would never happen again."
NCAA passes new Repeat Violater Rule
After cheating became rampant across the country, the NCAA felt they needed to make for harsher punishments. In the 1985 NCAA committee meeting in New Orleans, they passed the Repeat Violater rule. This rule states that if a second major violation occurs at any institution within five years of being on probation in the same sport or another sport, that institution can be barred from competing in the sport involved in the second violation for either one or two seasons.
David Stanley Tells News On SMU
Stanley, another disgruntled SMU football player, was kicked off the team for drug addiction. In retaliation, Stanley went to Channel 8 News and gave a live interview on television. He told the truth about everything SMU did in recruiting him. This was proof that SMU had paid players after their latest NCAA sentence, making them candidates for the Repeat Violater Rule.
NCAA gives SMU the 'Death Penalty'
The NCAA holds a press conference to give SMU the 'death penalty' following the David Stanley allegations. The program was terminated for the 1987 season. The NCAA discovered that the entire board, as well as Governer Clements, knew that the payments had continued.
SMU Cancels 1988 Season
SMU decides to cancel the 1988 football season as well due to not being able to field a "competitive" team. The team consisted of mostly walk-ons as former players transferred to other football teams to continue playing.
Houston Defeats SMU 95-21.
Halfway through the 1989 season, rival Houston dominated SMU 95-21. Houston totaled 1,000 yards of offense which was an NCAA record.
The Southwest Conference Dissolves
After most schools were on NCAA probation, the conference became tough to support financially and once Arkansas left for the SEC in 1990, the SWC was dying slowly. At the end of May of 1996, the Southwest Conference dissolved and SMU was forced to settle into the WAC.
SMU Football Struggles
SMU would have one winning season from 1989-2008.
SMU introduces June Jones as head football coach
SMU introduces June Jones as the new head coach for the SMU football team. Jones brings an exciting offense that had success at Hawaii, where he turned around their program in a short time span, going from winless to WAC Champions in a year.
SMU Wins Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl
SMU defeats Nevada 45-10 in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl to cap off their second winning season since 1987 and their first bowl win since.