The Forrest Gregg Bowl II

We play this Saturday at the Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, which is built on the site of the historic Jacob C. Ownby Stadium.  The historic stadium was built in 1926, placed on the Register of Historic Places in 1980, demolished in 1998 and removed from the Register in 2004.  It had Colonial and Georgian revival architecture on the exterior.  Three championship, two of them being controversial, Southern Methodist University squads claim the field as home.  The Mustangs claim national championships from 1935, 1981, and 1982.

After the legendary death penalty administered by the NCAA on the SMU football program for massive amounts of rule violations, Forrest Gregg was hired to revive the football program from ashes.  Six-time NFL champion, three times in a Super Bowl, as an offensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers of Vince Lombardi and the 1971 Cowboys.  SMU player in the 50s.  Head coach of 3 NFL franchises and 1 CFL franchise.  Pro Football Hall of Fame, class of 1977.

Vince Lombardi stated that Forrest Gregg is the finest player he ever coached.

As head coach of SMU in 1989, after 2 years of dormance, he was taller and heavier than most of his players.

SMU needed a coach who could simultaneously restore integrity and endure a beating on and off the field.  Gregg had 15 scholarships to use his first year and when he looked at his practice field, he saw the equivalent of 80 pocketknives hardly ready for a season-long fight with a flotilla of college football’s aircraft destroyers.

“I never coached a group of kids that had more courage,” he said. “They thought that they could play with anyone. They were quality people. It was one of the most pleasurable experiences in my football life.  Period.”

In two seasons under Gregg, the Mustangs went 3-19. In 1991, he became the university’s athletic director and watched his guys fight through a 1-10 season, followed by one in which they went 5-6. Gregg believes each one of them should have their jersey number retired.

“They restored dignity to SMU football,” Gregg said.

Their first victory was their second game of their first season at home against the University of Connecticut Huskies.  Before 20,548, the Huskies were defeated by the score 31-30 at Ownby Stadium.  #16 Houston scored 95 against them four games later.  SMU defeated North Texas for their second victory and only other victory of the season at home in the next game, 35-9.  They later lost to #1 Notre Dame in South Bend, 59-6.  Lou Holtz was said to be going easy on them.  If it makes anyone feel any better, SMU defeated Vanderbilt for their only win in 1990 and Tulane for their only win in 1991 before regularly winning against D1-A schools.  But our only game against them was that historic loss, giving SMU their first victory after being resurrected.

This time, as new co-members of our conference, we are going up against a completely developed SMU program.  Quarterback Garrett Gilbert is the son of former NFL journeyman quarterback, Gale Gilbert.  He got much of his play as a true freshman for Texas in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game after Colt McCoy went down but made one mistake after another in the game, losing to Alabama, 37-21.  Gilbert completed 15-of-40 passes for 186 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions and one fumble.  Transferred after the 2011 season to SMU.  Now a redshirt senior, he is groomed by quaterback master June Jones, leading the 5th ranked passing offense.

To keep up with SMU, we need to keep up with them offensively and score a lot more points.  We showed can keep up defensively against Louisville.  But the offense is still completely sputtering.  To have any hope, we are going to need completions.  A lot higher completion percentage and TD passes, as well.

As the UConn men’s basketball game was playing on the jumbo screen and the crowd was coming into the stadium, the players gathered at midfield and got together their pride as a group.  We took a beating of lumps but had a better than expected showing.  A few players were going into the locker room as the song fight was being played after the game was over, but were called back out onto the field by other fellow players.  The players proudly represented the fight song until the very end, because they know they will go down fighting as a UConn Husky.  We know that’s true for most of them.

This season ties our worst start in program history.  If we lose, it’ll be the worst start in program history.

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