SMU athletics met with The Dallas Morning News earlier this week to discuss its desire to rejoin a big-time conference.
In a phone interview with SMU President, R. Gerald Turner, he said that SMU has not applied for an appeal to join another conference, but his meeting with The Dallas Morning News executive board was to simply talk about SMU’s “conference realignment.”
“I felt that it was important that the city of Dallas know that there was a opportunity for an AQ school to be in Dallas,” Turner said. “AQ school” is a BCS conference terminology known as a automatic qualifier for one of the six (ACC, BIG10, BIG12, BIG EAST, PAC10, & SEC) American college athletic conferences.
President Turner added that SMU athletics were not only looking at the Big 12 as a prospective conference, but added that they were possibly looking at the Big East and possibly staying with Conference USA (C-USA) if they plan on joining another conference that can get a unified AQ status.
President Turner also said that Dallas should have an input on SMU’s conference realignment since SMU and Dallas colleges and universities have produced thousands of graduates. With the opportunity to play local games with AQ schools President Turner says that SMU will bring in a bigger crowd which could have a economic impact on Dallas.
“I have said on many of occasions that we [SMU] want to be your favorite number two,” Turner said.
Turner also added that SMU have not heard from the BCS or other conferences and he is uncertain on what the Big 12 will decide, but it’s a opportunity along with the other conferences.
“We wanted to call attention to the fact that with all of the uncertainty about conference membership, that there might be a opportunity for SMU to achieve AQ status,” Turner said.
SMU Director of Athletics, Steve Orsini also said that SMU feels that they have rebuilt themselves from the death penalty by hiring national coach June Jones, winning a conference championship, and winning two bowl games and he expects the football team to win another one this year.
“We have all the attributes that will qualify us as a BCS school, now we have to sell the attributes,” Orsini said.
With 80 million dollars to spend on expanding Ford Stadium and renovating Moody Colosseum, Orsini said that SMU has already designed to expand the capacity to hold potential Aggie and Longhorn fans.
“In the next three to four years we anticipate SMU football to be in the competitive stage with the help of June Jones.”
Orsini said that he has full respect for Conference USA, but since they are not a AQ conference member, it is hard for SMU athletes to perform to its fullest potential.
“Good athletes like to play with good athletes, to show how good they are,” Orsini said.
Orsini added that before Coach Jones came to SMU, the football team had a 1-11 record and was 119 out of 120 in the football bowl subdivision, now entering in Coach Jones fourth year, he has brought SMU from 119 to 34 in the football bowl subdivision.
“If TCU can do it, we can do it.”