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SMU Stuck in Orbit with Coaching Hires

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01:  Head coach June Jones of the Hawai'i Warriors coaches against the Georgia Bulldogs during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 1, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Georgia won 41-10. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Doug BowmanContributor IJune 22, 2009

SMU was once a football powerhouse, but was never even a blip on the college basketball radar.

Then they made headlines when they hired former UNC head coach Matt Doherty as their head basketball coach. The guy could recruit and gave SMU a little publicity for their basketball program.

A few years later, the Mustangs were finally ready to reengage their football program. They continued their "shoot for the moon" philosophy when it comes to coaching hires, luring Hawaii's June Jones fresh off a Sugar Bowl appearance.

After one year with both of the coaches in their capacities at the same time, you could say they are still in orbit.

Jones runs a unique system, relying heavily on the passing game—albeit a passing game that focuses on the short to intermediate passes. Certainly, the level and amount of high school football talent in the state of Texas will aid Jones in his pursuit to get the players for his system.

Actually, I don't doubt that he'll have the Mustangs in the bowl picture in a year or two.

On the court, there will be a bigger struggle to attain and sustain success. Doherty has yet to have a large amount of success and it's not feasible to expect any kind of postseason run this year for the Mustangs.

The simple truth is: SMU Basketball may get decent, but then Doherty will bolt and the Mustangs will start over.

It's the fate of all mid-major basketball programs—save a few examples like Dana Altman at Creighton. Success is awesome, but you best have a quality coach waiting in the wings to take over. Xavier has perfected this.

The problem with these two coaching hires is not that they didn't get quality coaches, because they certainly did. It's that SMU tried to launch a mission to the moon without the base for the rocket to lift off. There was nothing for football besides a 1-11 team and a promise for facility upgrades. There was next to nothing in basketball. 

Once these programs get off the ground and in the air and the coaches bolt, SMU must not attempt another "shoot for the moon" type hiring. They'd be best building a base with a young, developing assistant that will develop the program along the same path as his coaching skills.

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