SMU to the Big 12?

There's been some talk from University President R. Gerald Turner and Athletic Director Steve Orsini about wanting to join the Big 12. Will SMU be accepted into a BCS conference in the near future?

There's been some talk from the big guns of SMU (University President R. Gerald Turner and Athletic Director Steve Orsini) about wanting to join the Big 12.

With the Big 12 in a state of the unknown – it's down to 10 teams after Nebraska and Colorado bolted for the Big Ten and Pac 12 respectively, and now Texas A&M is vying for the attention of the most popular girl in school, aka the SEC – the conference either needs to add more teams or the ones in it need to find new homes.

SMU seems to want the former, as Turner was quoted in The Dallas Morning News Thursday saying, "We are pushing for [the Big 12]. We want the city to know we're pushing for it. We need as much help as possible, even from non-SMU alums. We believe it is good for Dallas."

The strong Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor presence in Dallas easily makes one forget that Dallas, a top five sports market, doesn't have it's own automatic-qualifying school. SMU touts about 40,000 alumni in the metroplex who would love to see Dallas gain some national attention from the BCS.

"Why not Dallas?" Orsini told ESPN. "We would solidify the presence of whatever conference we're in for an AQ status in the fifth-largest market in the country. This is a very important market."

Coach June Jones is reviving the SMU football program. The Mustangs have played in back-to-back bowl games. Before that they hadn't had a winning season since the "death penalty."

But it's not just the talent that's trickling into SMU that would make the school appealing to Dan Beebe and the Big 12. Right now Ford Stadium holds 40,000, but that's not far off from Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium, which can fit about 50,000. Plus, there's room for expansion (think upper decks, seats in the South end zone and suites, etc.).

And the athletic department needs more facilities. Jones mentioned that though SMU recently got new locker rooms, new meeting rooms and tutors for the athletes, they still need other things like an indoor facility, for example, if it wants to keep up with the bigger programs.

"We need commitment," Jones said of his No. 1 challenge with the SMU program as a whole. "The school needs to decide if that's really what they want to do is be a successful football program. Ask anybody out here [on the football team] and we do, but it's tough to make the decisions we need to make to get to the next level.

"We need to keep thinking bigger and if we're not gonna think big, we're not gonna be big."

Seems like Turner and Orsini are listening as their announcement of sorts to the Big 12 falls under the "thinking big" category.

When asked about joining the Big 12, Jones didn't really elaborate.

"I don't pay much attention to all that because I'm trying to focus on what we're doing," he said. "I know that all those things are going to be discussed over the next two years. If you're not pro-active, constantly knowing what's going on [with the conferences], you're going to be left behind. Until it happens, it's all speculation."

Even though Jones wouldn't really go in depth on his thoughts, he did say he likes that his bosses are pushing for SMU to join a BCS conference.

"I think that's the only way you get your name in the arena," Jones said. "A lot has happened since I've come here. I mean, three years ago they wouldn't have had those thoughts, so it's all positive to me."

Plus, imagine what SMU joining the Big 12 would do in terms of recruiting? Players would be in one of the best sports market cities, surrounded by professional teams and opportunities, and the school is private, which can be appealing for student-athletes looking for a smaller community.

Said Jones of the possible recruiting advantage if SMU were to be in a BCS conference like the Big 12: "It would help, no question."

More to come on this topic. Stay tuned.


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