Team Preview: SMU
Blue Ribbon Yearbook previews the 2005 college football season, exclusively on Insider.
Phil Bennett is not promising miracles, but he is promising progress for the once-proud SMU program.
If fact, that single word -- progress -- could serve as the motto for the Mustangs.
"We're a work in progress," Bennett said. "People here have been very understanding about where we were and where we need to be. We understand that we still have a lot of work to do, but we're starting to see a light ... if we can stay healthy and continue to make the progress we made last year, we're on the right track."
It has been almost 20 years since the NCAA shut down the SMU program for multiple recruiting violations. Since resuming play in 1989, SMU has had exactly one winning season -- 6-5 in 1997. The first five years of the new century has produced just 13 wins and 45 losses.
The program hit rock bottom in 2003, when the youngsters Bennett was trying to force-feed onto the field finished 0-12. That makes last season's 3-8 record a mark of -- here's that word again -- progress.
"We played an extremely tough early season schedule [in 2004]," Bennett said. "Four of the first six were on the road. We saw progress ... we lost some kids defensively and that hurt us, but it allowed a lot of kids to get playing experience. We now have 34 players who have started eight or more games for us."