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


‘Buzz’ surrounds football luncheon

The Phoenix Room at the Double Tree Hotel was full on Wednesday for the 2006 SMU Football Kickoff Luncheon.

The dining room was filled with alumni, boosters, former players, and families, as well as other SMU coaches.

The luncheon marks the closest thing to the football season other than the opening kickoff.

New SMU Athletic Director, Steve Orsini, was pulling double duty Wednesday as he preceded taking his spot at the head table by taking an interview with local sports radio station KTCK 1310 The Ticket.

Joining Orsini at the head table were the president of the university, R. Gerald Turner, head football coach Phil Bennett, Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky, coach Forrest Gregg, his wife, and Mustang Club President and corporate sponsor, Greg Gardiner along with his wife.

Honored guests not seated in front were new Mustangs basketball Coach Matt Doherty, Trustee Lamar Hunt, Dr. Herald Jeske, men’s soccer coach Schellas Hyndman, and men’s golf coach Jay Loar.

Radio football announcer Rich Phillips announced the members of the football team, as well as the other coaches. Upon entering the ballroom, the players and coaches took seats at each of the tables with the guests.

The first speaker was President Turner to introduce Athletic Director Steve Orsini. Turner expressed his “great enthusiasm,” and that he is “delighted to have [Orsini] leading over [SMU’s] athletic program.”

Orsini thanked the present supporters and the honored speaker, Forrest Gregg. Orsini spoke of the desire to build community relationships with the student athletes as well as the coaches.

Orsini also made it a point to thank the “leader of our great university, SMU,” President Turner.

Orsini also spoke of the “great opportunity” at SMU and his homecoming back to Dallas.

Orsini was with the Cowboys during the power change from Tex Schramm and Jerry Jones, before entering the world of college athletics.

Orsini also talked about he goals for this year, both in football and the overall athletic program.

Orsini spoke of getting “championship results,” and wanting all teams in the top 25.

He also spoke of wanting to have new facilities or at least renovate all of the athletic buildings over the next 10 years.

But Orsini’s biggest plea is to the fans. Wanting not only to pack Ford Stadium during home games, but also the away games.

Citing the close proximity of pretty much all road games, making C-USA a “great fit for SMU,” and a “great region” to play in.

The Commissioner of Conference USA was there and talked about Steve Orsini as a “wonderful leader,” and that the conference is “proud to be associated with the university.”

Commissioner Banowsky spoke of the close proximity to SMU the conference is, citing the location of their headquarters in Dallas, and Turner “doing a remarkable job.”

Then it was time for people to hear from the top dog, Head Coach Phil Bennett.

Coach Bennett followed the people before him by first speaking to the greatness of President Turner.

Bennett said of Turner as a “head of university who understands how athletics and academics” fit together. Bennett then addressed the conference as being up for any team. He also threw in a comment about officiating in the controversial Marshall game last year, a game that could have turned the season around earlier for the Mustangs.

But, according to Bennett, being in Conference USA has been a “blessing to SMU,” with the opportunity of teams to play and the competitiveness of the conference.

Bennett then spoke of expectations.

He is excited about the “buzz going on at SMU,” and everything that it entails.

Bennett feels that there should have been this kind of excitement in years past, but has always been overlooked by the negative.

Bennett talked of the team chemistry.

He pointed out that to create that strong team chemistry that is necessary the players have to be team players, which according to Bennett, this team has.

Bennett is also excited about having upperclassmen with game experience and experience in winning.

With the three game win streak to end the year, and the 3-1 record against bowl teams, and the upset of TCU, Bennett said the team is ready to win and compete for a conference championship. The thing Bennett said was the team’s main problem last year was not being “finishers.”

The opening game against Baylor was a perfect example of this, going in to the fourth quarter the game was tied, but the Mustangs gave up two touchdowns in the final quarter including one in the last two minutes.

Again going back to the Marshall game, the Mustangs had a 10-0 lead going into the fourth quarter where the Thundering Heard tied the game, and eventually won in overtime.

Bennett didn’t talk much about the first game of the season against Texas Tech.

But what he did say got a response from the crowd.

Bennett said that he feels that this team can compete against a Tech team, and has a chance against any team they play.

The other thing he spoke of was the score incident that occurred in the last Tech SMU match up.

With the game in hand the Red Raiders continued to throw the ball and run up the score on SMU. At the conclusion of the game Bennett confronted Texas Tech coach Mike Leech, and there was a heated argument.

Bennett finished his speech by saying that he “want[s] to be the one graciously kneeling on the ball at the end of the game.”

Then it was time for the keynote speaker, Coach Forrest Gregg. Gregg attended SMU, and then went on to play for the Green Bay Packers.

Gregg then returned to SMU to coach the Mustangs out of the “Death Penalty.”

Gregg told stories of his recruitment to SMU, some of his career with the Packers, and then as a coach.

His stories of the 1989 team brought reality to how far the team has come in 17 years. A team of “walk-ons and freshman, more freshman than walk-ons,” began the long road back to being a competitive football program. What he said of his team, he pointed out to this team, “its not what these guys do, but its how they do it,” speaking of their achievements off the field, as well as how hard they worked on the field.

He finished his speech of anecdotes and words of wisdom with these six words, “SMU can win-SMU will win.”

The next key date on the football calendar is an open scrimmage being held at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on Saturday, August 19th at 7 p.m.

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