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Adopt-a-Team: SMU Mustangs of the American Athletic Conference

SMU SMU is now in the American Athletic Conference. It will play conference games vs. Temple. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

By Martin Rickman

Throughout the preseason, Campus Union is providing a service: It will present one team from each of the six BCS automatic-qualifying conferences to root for in 2013. There is no scientific formula to these selections, but they do take into account some mix of watchability, intrigue, oddity and, of course, fun. The series starts with the American Athletic Conference and SMU.

If you missed SMU’s move to the American, that’s okay. Realignment can leave even the most dedicated college football fan in need of Dramamine. SMU's journey back in the aftermath of the Death Penalty took a long time. For a while, the program was completely in shambles.

RICKMAN: American Athletic Conference 2013 preview

But head coach June Jones, hired in 2008 after running an extremely interesting Hawaii team, has transformed the team. It's now been to four straight bowls since 2009. That success probably made the Mustangs more attractive to the American in realignment and helped the team’s viability moving forward -- an amazing feat considering the 20-year gap between bowl appearances after the Pony Excess scandal.

So if a former traditional power left in ruins and brought back to life by a guy named June isn’t enough to spark your interest, here are several other reasons you should adopt SMU as your AAC rooting interest in 2013.

Air Raid

As if SMU wasn’t already worth watching, the Mustangs had to go out and grab Hal Mumme.

This is obviously an experiment, and Mumme has had just as many failures as he's had innovations. (That’s what happens when you’re a mad scientist.) Still, it means SMU is probably going to score either 80 points a game or zero points a game and really nothing in between. Mumme will hopefully revitalize an SMU offense that struggled a bit in 2012 (for a Jones-run offense, anyway). Watch, because it’ll be worth it to see the machine in action.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan went there

The Hacksaw Jim Duggan. And he got his degree in applied plant biology.

The Mustangs’ RB transfer is kind of awesome

When starting running back Zach Line left for the Minnesota Vikings, the Mustangs were expected to suffer a drop-off in backfield production. It doesn’t seem like transfer and new starting back Traylon Shead is very concerned.

“I think we can shock the nation,” Shead said in an article by Bill Nichols of the The Dallas Morning News.

Shead comes from Navarro Junior College after originally playing at Texas (SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert also transferred from the Longhorns). He rushed for 141 touchdowns in high school, and Jones seems more than a little excited about what he brings to the team.

The campus is beautiful

SMU's Bishop Boulevard

Photo by Flickr user Ian Aberle

There are plenty of trees, an awesome lawn, some neat architecture and a celebration of lights around Christmas time.

Hey, aesthetics are important when it comes to adopting an American Athletic Conference football team.

Deion Sanders, Jr.

And his Versace sheets.

♫ Versace Versace Versace Versace Versace Versace / The American waiting June Jones and the Ponies just want to go bowlin' ( target="_blank">VERSACE!) ♫

SMU is going to throw a lot

And I mean a lot. From the AP:

“Well, if we take a vote on what we do, it’s going to be pass, I promise you that. It will be 2-0 pass,” said Hal Mumme, the new passing game coordinator for sixth-year Mustangs coach June Jones. “If I don’t want to throw it, I’ll probably look at June and say what do you want to do, and he’ll say why don’t we throw it.”
Just embrace it. SMU is your new favorite team in the American.

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