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


Blast from the past: SMU football three decades later

Although it would be a whole year later until the ‘official’ birth of the Pony Express, 1979 would mark a fateful year for Southern Methodist football, in particular, for a small third string tight end from Shreveport, La.

Clement Fox spent a year in 1976 as a redshirt third string tight end and special team player.  He then took a year off in ’77, but returned a year later, bigger, faster and more determined to see some playing time.

“It was the most exciting roller coaster I’ve ever had,” Fox said.

Before the Texas game that year the coaches announced there would be some changes, naming in particular, the end position. Bob Fisher, the current starter, had a class lab that made him miss full pad practice once a week, and this week the second string was out with a hand infection.

“I had the practice of my life,” Fisher said. “I couldn’t get tired, I couldn’t get hurt, everything moved in slow motion…. as a walk-on, all you want to do is get noticed.”

And noticed he was, and a year later against the same team he would key a block that would leave fullback Craig James wide open on an option pitch for a 53-yard touchdown against the No. 2 ranked Longhorns.

It was the play that birthed the name “The Pony Express,” and would be mentioned as one of the top 90 moments in SMU football history.

“Years later,” Fisher said, “I take great pride [in it]. One play. That’s all it took to define an entire team. [We] took a lot of pride in the fact that we were a team of great football players.”

In the 1980 season the Mustangs finished 8-4 with the school’s first national ranking (20th) since 1968. SMU relied on the running of James and Erick Dickerson and would end their season on the most precarious of games.

In the 1980 Holiday Bowl, a game that is most commonly known as the “Miracle Bowl”, SMU marked 900 yards of offense that game. That stat would be replicated by the pass heavy BYU Cougars. Athalftime, the game would come down to the final play.

After trailing 45-25, BYU mounted one of the most amazing comebacks in college football history. As time expired, quarterback Jim McMahon found Clay Brown in the end zone for one of his 32 of 49 passes completed for a 41-yard touchdown pass. BYU scored 21 points in the final two and a half minutes, sending the Mustangs home with a final, second defeat, 46-45.

This year’s season is much different for the Mustangs who return with a high powered, effective offense. That, and a defense with a senior core of linebackers and defensive ends that will have an ability to create turnovers this season, means that their only problems rest on maturity and consistency of the system.

For Fox, “almost every pregame, emotion-wise, was identical.”

Whether it’s going to a season opener in 1980 in Texas Stadium, or marching in to Lubbock’s Jones AT&T Stadium on national television, the feeling of attending an NCAA pregame is hard to imagine.

Luckily, Fox was able to channel his anxiety through his pregame duties as the backup punter; a job that, he says, was much appreciated and needed.

“[It was] a way to have my mind open up, clear itself and get some activity in to burn off some of the nervousness. It’s a lot easier to be successful when there’s a lot less pressure on everybody,” Fox said.

Unfortunately, the pressure will only continue to build going into Sunday’s game. This year’s team will rely on the ability of veterans, like junior tackle Kelvin Beachum and senior back number 52, Pete Fleps, to use their instinctive leadership skills and football knowledge to drive the Mustangs to another bowl-ending season.

“[Our] starting offensive line, including myself, had four guys that had been there five years. These guys are under a different microscope. Now, they could be one of the top-notch conference teams; that’s kind of an enormous amount of pressure after 25 years of not performing, ” Fox said.

 Fox and the other members of the Pony Express inverted pressure on themselves, and their unity allowed them an 8-3 record with a trip to the Holiday Bowl. Whether the team will be able to pull itself together for the gathering storm that is the 2010 season will be at least partially settled this Sunday in the opener against Tommy Tuperville and his Red Raiders in Lubbock.

It looks like this year the Mustangs will have to begin by channeling some pressure themselves, and simply ignore the fact that the rest of the Mustang nation is roused, restless and ready to win.

The season opener at Jones AT&T stadium will begin at 2:30 p.m. Central Time and will be televised live on ESPN.

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