SMU 1985 vs. Auburn 2010

When ESPN announced a year ago they would air their final 30 for 30 on the rise and detonation of SMU Football in the 80s, who could have predicted how symbolic the timing would be.  The Pony Express examines the SMU cheating scandal and the NCAA decision to use the nuclear option for the first and only time in its history.  The irnony is that the The Pony Express follows the 2010 Heisman trophy presentation where Cam Newton will be named the best player in the land.  

I think Auburn is months away from being exposed for one of the most wide spread cheating scandals since SMU in the early 80s.  What’s interesting is the similarities between Auburn in 2010 and SMU in the 80s. 

Auburn cheating vs. SMU cheating – When it comes to cheating, SMU had it all.  They had a little Reggie Bush (players living rent free in plush Dallas apartments) paid for by boosters.  They had a little Cam Newton (recruits getting tens of thousands of dollars in cash envelops). 

But where SMU went the extra mile was the school’s involvement.  SMU’s recruiting coordinator was mailing cash envelops to recruits with the knowledge of the SMU athletic department.  And like every good pay-for-play scandal there was the requisite slush fund.  Only this slush fund was contributed to by certain members of the SMU Board of Governors and had the full approval of the SMU athletic department. 

Bobby Collins was SMU’s coach and was fully aware of the pay-for-play scheme.  While it has never been reported, you sensed that like Gene Chizik, Collins was brought in because he knew how the game was played.  Forces bigger than the head coach were running the program, it was the coaches job not to interfere with that.  Auburn knew Chizik was on the hot seat at Iowa State with his 5-19 record.  They knew throwing him a lifeline would indebt Chizik to Auburn. 

Eric Dickerson/ Cam Newton – Dickerson was the top recruit in Texas coming out of  high school.  He was set to attend Texas A&M and has later said A&M offered him a new Pontiac Trans Am.  At the last minute he switched to SMU where boosters paid for a car and a healthily signing bonus.  Insert Cecil and Cam Newton story here. 

How Good was SMU – Pretty darn good.  I wrote last year about their appearance in the 1980 Holiday Bowl.  In `81 they finished the season ranked 5th in the nation.  1982 was their best team.  The `82 team had Eric Dickerson and Craig James in the backfield and saw SMU win the Cotton Bowl over Dan Marino’s Pittsburgh team (at the time the Cotton Bowl was the equivalent of a BCS bowl). 

In `83 SMU went 10-2 with losses only to Texas and Alabama in the Sun Bowl.  In `84 SMU was again a top 10 team and beat Notre Dame in the Aloha Bowl.  The win over Notre Dame ended the five year run of top ten teams.  By 1985 the scandal broke and the rest is history. 

Big Picturewhat the cheating represented:  I’ve read ESPN 30 for 30 paints the picture of SMU representing “the Dallas” lifestyle in the early to mid 80s.  While it is certainly true, it misses the bigger picture. 

SMU was the poster boy for the late South Western Conference.  The SWC was ruled by Texas oil and the long list of millionaire boosters bankrolling SWC programs.  SMU could have been any SWC school, they just had the bad fortune of playing in the biggest media market in the SWC. 

Like SMU, it would be naïve to think Auburn’s current cheating scandal stands in isolation.  Over the past five years, the SEC has experienced more league wide success than any other period in the Conferences history.  This raises the question of whether the SEC’s recent success is a bubble about to burst like the SWC did 25 years ago. 

The Death Penalty – The NCAA infractions committee cited the need to: “eliminate a program that was built on a legacy of wrongdoing, deceit and rule violations.”  In doing so they cancelled SMU’s 1987 season, all SMU home games for 1988, and banned any TV appearances for SMU till 1990.  They allowed all current SMU players and recruits to transfer without recourse.  During that first week over 200 college coaches from 85 different schools descended on SMU to take away the scholarship players. 

SMU went out swinging.  Having destroyed their own program, SMU boosters proceeded to spend money implicating other SWC schools.  They succeeded.  A fund was devoted to bringing down other SWC schools and by 1990, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Houston had all been punished to varying degrees by the NCAA.  An exodus of high school talent left Texas and by the mid-90s the SWC dissolved. 

2010 – It’s unlikely the NCAA does to Auburn what they did to SMU.  The NCAA has learned the “death penalty” was just that:  It was death to the SMU football program and the Southwestern Football Conference.  The NCAA had no idea the destruction the sanctions they imposed would have.

Since SMU received the punishment, 29 programs in various sports have been eligible for the death penalty — All were spared. 

Of the 29 incidents, the NCAA specifically mentioned the death penalty as a possible punishment in only five cases, but each school’s cooperation with the investigation helped diminish the punishments.  To date, Auburn has denied any knowledge or wrongdoing in the Cam Newton scandal.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “SMU 1985 vs. Auburn 2010

  1. Pingback: MEGATHREAD: NCAA looking at Cam Newton for possibly receiving extra benefits.

  2. Eddie

    You sir, are an IDIOT!!!

    What has Auburn been accused of? Give me a break. Can’t believe you would even write this garbage. BTW, NCAA is very comfortable with their ruling, so I guess Death Penalty is coming. What a joke of a column.

  3. theaccreport

    “Reinstatement rulings are independent of the NCAA enforcement process and typically are made once the facts of the student-athlete’s involvement are determined. The reinstatement process is likely to conclude prior to the close of an investigation. It is NCAA policy not to comment on current, pending or potential investigations.”

    Eddie – The NCAA ruling on Newton isn’t a final decision, they’re just saying they don’t have enough evidence in place to DQ him. Auburn should and will get crushed once the NCAA (and FBI) is done investigating.

  4. Eddie

    Once again, you sir are an IDIOT!

    When did the FBI start investigating AUBURN? Geez. I mean this is total garbage. Oh, the Reinforcement process is a wing of the Enforcement Department. Also, keep hoping that Auburn has done something in this, because they haven’t. But at least you admit that this is a personal wish of yours, to see Auburn get crushed. Come back in 7 years and tell me when we are going to get crushed. It AIN’T happening. Also, if you even paid attention to the story, you would understand more of what the investigation that was continuing was about and it ISN’T CAM NEWTON.

    Also, might want to write a ton of articles listing players name and state that they are eligible until evidence shows they are not. Just stop with the personal agenda writing, which is exactly what you are doing.

  5. Eddie,
    Poor guy. I said the same things when the Albert Means case was unfolding. Let’s examine a few things, shall we?
    1) The NCAA is investigating Cam Newton and Auburn. While you are correct, “At this time”, there is no connection, I believe it is coming.
    2) The FBI is investigating illegal gambling and Milton McGregor, an Auburn booster, and others in the legislature and Montgomery power brokers.
    3) The FDIC has just opened an investigation into the executives of failed banking institutions. Colonial Bank was the 4th largest bank failure in the US up till now.
    If Auburn has done nothing wrong, it will come out. The FBI and the FDIC have something the NCAA does not have. Subpoena power.
    Keep your head in the sand. Everything will be OK.

  6. Eddie

    Yeah, the Means case and this are identical. My bad. Glad you brought up two completely different investigations to tie into this. I’ll keep my head in the sand. Maybe I should just keep listening to the bama “sources” that have been wrong this whole way through. The only thing they have been dead on was the timing of the release of the allegation…I wonder why? Keep through crap up on the wall and hoping it sticks, because all it is hope on your part.

  7. theaccreport

    Eddie – I have no dog in this fight. I’m not anti-Auburn or pro-Bama, just a huge college football fan. And the fact that most objective college football fans like myself think Auburn is dead to rights should tell you something.

  8. If the NCAA really were serious about imposing the “death penalty”…wouldn’t they have used it in the Baylor b-ball case? As you recall, all they did was take away Baylor’s (conference) home games.
    Covering up the Patrick Dennehy murder (among other things) SHOULD have been “death penalty”-worthy, IMO. Just shows what faggots the NCAA happen to be when it comes to enforcement.
    That’s all I need to say…well, that and WAHOO-WA!!! LMAO

  9. Pingback: SMU 1985 vs. Auburn 2010 (via The ACC Report) « Just what I want to talk about, and nothing else

  10. Hamlet

    What you allude to is correct. No other school has ever had a booster run the program from the inside. This booster is under federal investigation and is directly tied to the gambling investigation. Corruption has invaded one of Alabama’s higher education institutions and will soon be cleaned up. Whether the Auburn Athletic program survives is unknown at this time but it does not look good.

  11. Anonymous

    Still haven’t gotten any penalties yet? Whoever wrote this is a f***ing idiot.

  12. Anonymous

    I guess the NCAA figuered any program with Gene Chizik as head coach is self-imposing its own sanctions.

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