Trietley: A fact a day about the Southern Methodist Mustangs

By Greg Trietley

Do you know what my favorite part of the holiday season is?

It’s those chocolate Advent… Do you know what my favorite part of the holiday season is?

It’s those chocolate Advent calendars. Each day of the cardboard calendar has a rectangular window that you open to reveal a small piece of chocolate. By Dec. 3, my Advent calendar is usually on Christmas Eve. Come on, sticking to one milk chocolate serving per day just isn’t happening.

A piece of chocolate a day (or more) is pretty much the greatest motivator. Your day stinks. Oh, there’s chocolate to be had? Life is worth living again!

That’s why I think everybody needs a chocolate Advent calendar for the BBVA Compass Bowl. It’s the same bowl Pitt went to last year, and, yes, it’s still in Birmingham, Ala. There isn’t much to get excited about.

I’m dangerously low on chocolate, as I seem to have eaten all of mine, so how about facts about Pitt’s opponent Southern Methodist instead? Facts are always nice. With the BBVA Compass Bowl 31 days from Wednesday, here’s a tidbit about the Mustangs for every day until then.

The Mustangs play in Conference USA, which Tulsa, Houston and Southern Mississippi also call home (1). They finished 5-3 in the conference and 7-5 overall (2), and their signature win this year came in overtime at No. 20 Texas Christian, 40-33 (3).

They also defeated defending Conference USA champion Central Florida at home, 38-17 (4).

After that game, sophomore walk-on Stephen Nelson wrote a column for SMU’s Daily Campus in which he called the student body “stubborn and pathetic” and that road games resemble “what I dreamed about rather than the pee-wee football experience we have here where it seems only the players’ parents are in the stands” (5).

The announced attendance at Gerald J. Ford Stadium for the win over Central Florida was 22,932 (6).

Gerald J. Ford, a billionaire banker and SMU alumnus, is not to be confused with Gerald R. Ford, the 38th President of the United States and not an SMU alumnus (7).

Other former SMU attendees include Laura Bush, Kourtney Kardashian and Eric Dickerson (8). Kardashian transferred after two years (9).

Senior J.J. McDermott starts at quarterback for the Mustangs (10). He completed 59.5 percent of his throws this year, compared to Tino Sunseri’s 63.9 percent (11). Like Sunseri, McDermott had as many touchdown passes as he had interceptions — 16 of each (12). Sunseri had 10 of each.

Running back Zach Line had 17 touchdowns in SMU’s first 10 games (13), but he is out for the season with a torn tendon in his toe that he suffered in a loss to Navy on Nov. 12 (14).

His replacement Rishad Wimbley rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns in SMU’s regular-season finale against Rice (15). The freshman, who weighed 295 pounds before the season (16), is a converted nose tackle (17).

The Mustang mascot refers to the horse and not the car (18).

SMU has a live mascot named Peruna, a black Shetland pony that runs across the field after every home touchdown (19). The school is currently on Peruna IX, which took over for Peruna VIII in October of this year (20). The mascot line is known for its temper — a Peruna once allegedly killed Fordham’s ram mascot with a kick to the head (21).

SMU is often confused for other schools because of its abbreviation. SMU is Southern Methodist, USM is Southern Mississippi and SMC is St. Mary’s College of California, which boasts a strong mid-major basketball program (22).

Total number of Texans on the Dallas-based team: 76 (23). Total number of Pennsylvanians on the team: 0 (24). Pitt, meanwhile, has five Texans on its roster, and head coach Todd Graham, not coincidentally, also hails from the Lone Star State.

SMU remains the only college football program to receive the “death penalty” (25). The NCAA terminated its 1987 season for egregious rule violations and corruption that saw the school pay athletes through a slush fund starting as early as the mid-1970s (26).

The Mustangs went 25 years between bowls (27). After beating Notre Dame in the 1984 Aloha Bowl, 27-20, they didn’t make another postseason appearance until the 2009 Hawaii Bowl, in which they trounced Nevada 45-10 (28).

Four current NFL players played college ball at SMU, including Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (29).

The Mustangs claim three national titles: 1935, 1981 and 1982 (30). SMU concluded its 1982 claimed championship season by defeating Pitt in the Cotton Bowl, 7-3 — the most recent game between the two schools (31).