Dickerson committed to Texas A&M before reconsidering and deciding amongst Oklahoma, Southern California, and Southern Methodist University (SMU). His great-great aunt talked him into staying in the state of Texas to attend Southern Methodist University because she liked SMU coach Ron Meyer. Dickerson was the subject of recruiting controversy when he started driving a new Pontiac Trans-Am during his senior year of high school. According to “myth,” Dickerson began driving a new Pontiac Trans-Am automobile about the same time he committed to A&M, and, when he signed with SMU, he suddenly was not driving the Trans-Am because it had been destroyed by a vengeful Aggie”. Ron Meyer famously called the car, the “Trans A&M.” At the time he said his grandmother from Mexico bought it for him. Dickerson still refuses to answer on whether or not he accepted anything to attend SMU, saying, “Even if I did take something, I still wouldn’t tell.”
Initially, Dickerson shared carries with Craig James and Charles Waggoner, all three blue-chip recruits in 1979. Waggoner was hurt returning a kickoff their freshman season, leaving Dickerson and James to lead SMU’s running attack, called the Pony Express. Dickerson gained 4,450 yards on 790 carries to break Earl Campbell’s Southwest Conference record for yards and attempts. His 48 career touchdowns tied Doak Walker’s SMU total for career scoring. In his senior year, despite splitting time with James, Dickerson finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, behind Herschel Walker and John Elway. He was also a first-team All-American in 1982 and a second-team All-American in 1981.
Coach Ron Meyer came to SMU in 1976 after his success as an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s (including a Super Bowl win) and a stint with UNLV. Coach Meyer was infamous for his recruiting tactics, including visits each year to the homes of 70 or more of the top recruits per year. His most notable recruits were future NFL running backs Eric Dickerson and Craig James before the 1979 season, as both their high school teams went 15–0 and won state championships. Combined with blue-chip running back Charles Waggoner, the three backs were nicknamed the “Pony Express” running attack and shredded opposing defenses in the option offense led by quarterback Lance McIlhenny. In 1981, the Mustangs’ performance earned them recognition by the National Championship Foundation as national champions. The final Associated Press poll ranked SMU #5, four spots behind AP national champion Clemson. The team was not ranked in the coaches’ poll at all due to a rule forbidding teams on probation from consideration.
College Sports Established
Southern Methodist University
1973 – Present / NCAA Division 1
1921 – 1973 / University Division of the NCAA
1918 – 1921 / Athletic Association of the United States
2013 – Present / American Athletic Conference
2005 – 2013 / Conference USA
1996 – 2005 / Western Athletic Conference
1918 – 1996 / Southwest Conference
Mustangs – During this time, the football team was known as “the Parsons”, due to a large number of theology students on the team. On October 17, 1917, the name “Mustangs” was selected as the school’s mascot.
Men’s Basketball 0
Women’s Basketball 0