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Tom Herman made fun of SMU. Months later, SMU shocked Houston by 22 points


Tulsa v Houston Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Tom Herman, in less than two years, has built Houston into a model non-power college football program. The Cougars won the Peach Bowl against Florida State last year, and they’ve become such a recruiting presence that at least a handful of Big 12 power brokers didn’t want them joining that league. (They aren’t, at least for now.)

Texas’ other famous team outside the Power 5 is SMU.

This May, when Herman was looking for booster donations and talking to some business people, he issued the following comments about his division rival, via the Houston Chronicle’s Joseph Duarte:

We understand the price of a championship. That price is the same for Alabama as it is for Ohio State and UH. In order to pay that price, you've got to be willing to invest. There's a price for nine-win seasons and prices for eight-, seven-, six-win seasons. Those prices are a lot easier to pay.

And if you're satisfied with going 7-5 and going to the Poulan Weedeater Bowl, then great. Then you're in the wrong program and we'll find a place for you to go. I hear there's a private school up in Dallas that's really looking to try to get to seven wins. We can certainly find you a home.

To be clear, the “private school up in Dallas” is SMU, which had gone 2-12 against the Cougars since 1994.

That was until Saturday, when SMU beat Houston 38-16.

The Cougars now have two losses, and while they were already out of the Playoff race, their season now looks like a total shell of itself. The Mustangs also zapped Houston with a clever fake punt.

Make no mistake: Herman dropping Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl lava on the Mustangs was mean. And don’t think the Mustangs didn’t enjoy this.

The Mustangs are still digging out of a hole that started with their NCAA-mandated black hole in the 1980s. Head coach Chad Morris is trying to build SMU up with exclusively Texan recruits, and signs of progress are apparent; the Mustangs are projected to improve their win total for the second year in a row (all the way up to three or four).

It was not, technically, a historically accurate burn. SMU has not played in the famed Weed-Eater Bowl or its successor, today’s Camping World Independence Bowl. But that’s mostly because SMU has played in only four bowls since 1984.

SMU has a habit of losing to in-state rivals but still being involved in deeply meaningful games with those rivals. Now that the Mustangs have a win, maybe this series can really be something.