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

Pumped-up Pigskin Revue

SMU’s Homecoming tradition gets a musical makeover celebrating 90 years of the Pigskin Revue
Seven female students dance on stage while the Mustang Band plays behind them in the 1970 Pigskin Revue. Courtesy of SMU Libraries.

SMU’s Student Foundation changed one of the most anticipated events of Homecoming this year and announced there will not be a concert headlining the festivities. Instead, the homecoming committee returned to an old tradition: The Pigskin Revue.

The variety show featuring music, comedy sketches and satirical videos celebrates its 90th year and remains one of Southern Methodist University’s longest-standing traditions since 1933.

Over the years, the Pigskin Revue saw a decline in attendance, but the Mustang Band kept the tradition alive. With Student Foundation’s help this year, the revue takes a more prominent place during Homecoming weekend, highlighting an eclectic mix of performances from campus groups, including alumni, current students and faculty members.

The Mustang Band performs on stage in 1991 at the annual Pigskin Review. Courtesy of SMU Libraries.

Catherine Ramsey, vice president of programming for Student Foundation and a member of the Mustang Band, has deep connections to The Pigskin Revue.

“I think this is a really cool opportunity for students who have that talent to show their skill,” she said.

The revue also adds a traditional element to this year’s Homecoming and marks a more collaborative student experience, Ramsey said.

Ramsey performed at the Pigskin Revue in 2022 when Ginny Diaz attended. Diaz remembered laughing at the skit about construction on campus. The skit featured makeshift instruments, including plastic trash cans skillfully played with bass drum mallets, a lengthy plank of wood expertly manipulated with snare drum sticks and brake drums brought to life with the artful touch of acrylic mallets. Midway through the performance, the ensemble temporarily paused while the drum captain delivered a humorous monologue replete with jests and quips about the ongoing campus construction. The audience laughed and clapped. Following the comedic interlude, the skit took a daring turn as participants were tasked with playing the wooden plank while it oscillated and spun, adding an element of dynamic surprise to the performance.

“The instruments fit the construction piece so well and when the band was joking about the Owen Fine Arts construction, it was hilarious,” Diaz said. “The audience loved it.” The Mustang Band describes the revue as SMU’s very own Saturday Night Live.

Student Foundation aims to bring a community together to celebrate the success of current, former, and future students, Will Emmert, entertainment coordinator of Student Foundation said.

“The Pigskin Revue has been dying off, and we wanted to revitalize it and reincorporate it back into part of the homecoming festivities,” Emmert said. “I think it’s really important for people to come and listen and support their other students.”

Emmert, a vocal performer, wants to make music a central part of the vision for Homecoming.

“I think it’s important for us to support the Mustang Band, because they go to every football game, and they give our student athletes and our students section support,” Emmert said.

Students of the Mustang Band play their instruments for the Pigskin Revue. (Catherine Ramsey)

The decision to forgo the concert was primarily driven by financial constraints, Emmert said.

“We knew pretty early on that we weren’t going to be able to fund an event that would bring in enough of the student body to be worth it,” he said. “I’m hopeful that this collaboration will reignite the community’s involvement with this long-stranding SMU tradition.”

Unlike some universities that receive significant funding for such events, SMU’s Student Foundation is entirely student-run and supported by the Student Senate. Students at SMU and similar universities like Baylor noticed that Texas Christian University (TCU) brought Kesha to perform, which Emmert estimated was around $500,000. Other schools have university funding that goes towards entertainment while SMU does not, Emmert said.

“The cost adds up really fast before even paying the artists to come,” he said.

Student Foundation pointed to a previous concert featuring the band Coin from SMU’s 2022 Homecoming. Though well-executed, only 500 students showed up. They were
hoping for 1,500 students.

“Coin was a $50,000 investment, and if you look at Waka Flocka Flame, getting him costs double the amount of Coin,” Emmert said.

Though the concerts were expensive, some students said the concert gave them priceless memories. SMU senior Grace Hiestand, felt Student Foundation’s Homecoming concert was a good way to meet new people when she was a freshman.

“It’s a bummer there isn’t a concert this year because the concerts were always very fun for me as a college student with low funds,” Hiestand said. “So many people find so much joy in music and the options we have are limited for people who don’t have the funds or the comfort to go to a typical concert.”

But Emmert said Student Foundation wanted to highlight the talents of SMU students.

“We want to make sure that what we are putting out is something that students want to come to,” Emmert said. “I don’t think this is a step backwards by any means.”

Pigskin Revue’s iconic status of a “must attend” event on the campus calendar declined over recent years due to a combination of factors, said Tommy Tucker, assistant director of the Mustang Band.

Three women and three men sing and dance on stage for the Pigskin Review in the 1970s. (SMU Library)

One notable factor was the Death Penalty, the NCAA punishment for recruiting violations that shut down SMU’s football program for two seasons. It resulted in Homecoming festivities overlapping with soccer games. This scheduling conflict deterred many alumni from returning to The Pigskin Revue. Another contributing factor was the broadcasting contracts for football games. This allowed networks to determine kickoff times with as little as six days’ notice, leaving event organizers and attendees in the dark about whether a Saturday night football game would coincide with the revue.

“This year, the partnership with Student Foundation should help us reach a broader student audience for participants as well as attendees,” Tucker said. “I believe the attraction of this being a milestone anniversary will attract a few more alumni, especially former band members.”

Tucker has been with the band for 45 years. This year is his last.

“The 90th anniversary of the Pigskin Revue is important since there aren’t too many things around Dallas that have been going on for 90 years,” he said. “I believe this should truly be a showcase for all manner of campus talent, not just the Mustang Band.”

You can see The Pigskin Revue Friday Oct. 27 at McFarlin Auditorium.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Saki Teng, Photo & Video Editor
As video and photo editor, Saki works with the social media editor to develop video content for The Daily Campus. She works with the newsroom to develop a "Question of the Week," relevant to SMU students, which helps us get to know our community a lot better. Saki was previously a co-EIC of The Daily Campus in fall 2022, and she also covers campus events and news. You can reach her at [email protected].