When the crowd of more than 22,000 huddled into Ford Field to watch SMU play Navy, they could feel the energy of a hopeful 4-2 record with a win, which would have piled on the comparisons of the 2009 season with that of 1986. But there was more being played for than that one step closer to a bowl berth, Saturday's game marked the inaugural battle for the Gansz Trophy, a traveling trophy that was created earlier this season to honor the late SMU coaching legend, Frank Gansz, who died after complications from knee replacement surgery in April. He was 70.
Arguably the greatest special teams coach ever to coach in the NFL, Gansz had spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Navy from 1969 to 1972, before entering an extensive NFL career, which lasted until his retirement in 2001, but not before being awarded the special teams coach of the year twice.
"Frank Gansz touched the lives of so many players and coaches in his lifetime, not just at SMU, but throughout the nation," Jones said. "The Frank Gansz Trophy is being established to honor Frank for his contributions to the game of football and to remember all the lives he touched along the way. We are excited that we are able to establish this trophy between the two schools he loved the most, Navy and SMU."
After Navy edged out SMU in overtime, they were honored with the privilege of being the first team to take the Gansz Trophy home. It was even presented to them by former President George W. Bush.
After SMU and Navy finish their current four-game, home-and-home series in 2011, the series will resume in 2015 with another four-game, home-and-home series. SMU will travel to Annapolis in 2015 and 2017 and Navy will come to Dallas in 2016 and 2018. Future dates are also being discussed.