The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Memories of the miracle

The front page of the Sept. 19, 1989 edition of The Daily Campus celebrated the first win for the football team following the NCAA’s “death penalty.” (The Daily Campus Archives)
The front page of the Sept. 19, 1989 edition of The Daily Campus celebrated the first win for the football team following the NCAA’s “death penalty.” (The Daily Campus Archives)
miracle.jpg
The front page of the Sept. 19, 1989 edition of The Daily Campus celebrated the first win for the football team following the NCAA’s “death penalty.” (The Daily Campus Archives)

 

Saturday’s football game featuring the University of Connecticut Huskies will not be the first time the SMU Mustangs have faced off against their Northeast rivals.

On the contrary, the last time the Mustangs met UConn, the game was a wild back-and-forth affair that came to be known as the “Miracle on Mockingbird.”

Coming off of the NCAA’s “death penalty,” which shut down all football-related activities on campus in 1987 and 1988, SMU’s ‘89 team was a short-handed band of walk-ons and loyal players. Head coach and former Mustang great Forrest Gregg did his best to field a competitive lineup, but the lack of scholarships and practice time sanctioned away seemed almost too much to overcome for the Mustangs against
any opponent.

But on Sept. 19, 1989, the Mustangs faced off against the Huskies for an out-of-conference clash that brought a glimmer of hope to an otherwise dreadful first year back.

Trailing late in the game by 16 points at 30-14, SMU staged an incredible comeback that was presented to an emptying Ownby Stadium after many fans had given up all hope of the team’s first win in three years.

Quarterback Mike Romo led the team to three consecutive scoring drives, including the game-winner as time expired on a two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Bowen, to seal the deal.

“Nobody believed in us, but we did,” Romo said after the game. “It’s a great feeling.”

The Mustangs’ victory was the highlight of a season without many to be spotted, as that same squad would go on to lose all but one other game that season, but the victory over the Huskies earned its place in SMU lore.

Gregg took the role of athletic director following the 1990 season, but he has fond memories of his former squad, and the pro football hall-of-famer said as much in a 2012 interview with The New York Times.

“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.”

Although much has changed for the Mustangs football team in the 24 years since the original “Miracle on Mockingbird,” the resolve and dedication of that 1989 team in Ownby Stadium is something that should never be forgotten.

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