Before we get started, a special thanks to the guys from Underdog Dynasty, SBNation's blog dedicated to covering most of the non "Power Five" conferences (more on SMU ties to the "five" later, by the way). These guys are churning out a ton of great stuff and it's a must-read for the complete college football fan. Joining us here are UNT beat writer Adam Rosenfield and AAC guru Al Burke. Both of them were gracious enough to answer our meager questions. (Adam also recently wrote this interesting piece on the SMU coaching search.) Thanks again, fellas. Now on to the questions:
GBH: What can you tell us about interim coach Tom Mason?
AR: Mason is a high energy guy, and the opposite of June Jones. For one, he's a defensive mind- he's been the defensive coordinator for 6 years at SMU, and held the same position at Boise State and Nevada. He's been a HC before, going 1-9 for Boise State when Pokey Allen took a leave of absence for cancer treatment in 1996, which happened to be the Broncos first year as an FBS member.
He's up front- he basically told his players they've hit rock bottom, which while blatently obvious to an outsider, might not be as clear to players.
He also is instituting contact in his practices, unlike Jones who was a strong proponent of no contact practice.
Here's the deal though, even if Mason goes 5-5, 6-4, even 7-3, I don't think he even gets consideration for the head coaching spot. There's too much money flying around with boosters- SMU wants a big name.
AB: He's a good coach, but lacks HC experience. While this isn't normally damning, SMU is a mess right now. He seems to understand the job ahead of him, and signed an OL coach as one of his first statements.
GBH: Matt Davis was pretty popular at A&M before he transferred. Can you tell us why he's struggling at SMU?
AR: I'm not sure. He was pretty hyped when he came in, but he struggled against Baylor, and played sparingly against North Texas (but he did have a 33 yard bomb late). I think everyone is struggling at SMU and with Neal Burcham out for the season, Davis will definitely have his fair shot.
AB: He's hardly played since HS, and has had some ankle issues - not good for a dual-threat. He's been playing from behind since arriving on campus.
GBH: SMU's offensive line has allowed 13 sacks through 2 games. On a scale of 1-"UHM", how concerned do you think they are about facing SEC sack leader Myles Garrett?
AB: Cassel was seen buying health insurance recently.
GBH: Name one Mustang on offense and one on defense to look out for.
AR: Offense- Myles Crosby. But also Kolney Cassel- how he responds to the humiliation at North Texas
Defense- Myles Crosby
AB: Receiver Nate Halverson made some nice plays last week. Whether he gets the chance to make more is another matter.
On defense, take your pick. They're not playing at the level they should be.
GBH: Who is on your short list to step in as the full-time head coach?
AR: As a North Texas alum, fan, and blogger, I hope SMU completely botches this hire. That being said, I'm looking at Chad Morris and Jake Spavital.
AB: Haven't looked into it yet, but someone familiar with recruiting in Texas is a must.
GBH: Do you have any inkling as to where Craig James buried any of The Five? It's okay; just blink once for yes and twice for no.
AR: I heard they're under Prime Bar, a douchey bar in Uptown Dallas. Unconfirmed though.
AB: One blink.
GBH: Is there a brotherhood among the non-Power 5 programs? Are y'all pulling for each other against the big boys?
AR: North Texas Answer: I dont pull for SMU, except in basketball. I pull for everyone else though, its nice seeing the smaller schools beat Goliath
SMU answer: No, I miss being in the SWC
AB: I always root for the little guy. Like when I hoped Wake Forest would beat ULM.
GBH: What are the top non-Power 5 head coaching jobs?
AR: That's a tough one. I'd go with:
BYU- all the resources in the world, coaches have longevity
UTSA- Larry Coker built the program and it has some incredible resources, and some marquee opponents coming to the Alamodome
Navy- I'd be pretty honored if I got the job- the Middies are consistently the best service academy and anything over 7 wins is considered amazing, which they do every year
ECU- Just moved up conferences, good team, even better fans
Boise State- still a great program, money, good facilities, though they may be off the list in 5 years.
AB: Boise, BYU, Houston, Fresno and Michigan. (Chuckles)