Arlington can lay claim to one of the great sports stories developing in Dallas this fall. It is a story that spans two generations of coaches and players, a story that stretches from Lubbock to Arlington to Dallas. If not for Lamar High School product Shane Buechele, the Southern Methodist University Mustangs might not be one of the best stories in North Texas – actually, one of the best stories in college football.
After getting off to a 6-0 start this season, the Mustangs did something they have not done since 1982: they earned a ranking among the Top 25 teams in the nation. After an overtime beating of Tulsa in week six, the Ponies were rewarded with national attention and respect. When they grabbed the 21st spot in the AP Poll, they celebrated their highest ranking since the days of Eric Dickerson and Craig James. In fact, it was their only ranking since the days of the “Pony Express.” No matter how the season ends for SMU, this will be a great story of redemption for the program, and new beginnings for the team.
Since coming back from the collegiate “death penalty,” SMU has tried it all. From a Hall of Fame player as its first coach, Forrest Gregg, all the way through to the son of a Texas Legend, Sonny Dykes. There has been a lot of effort, heartache and losing during the 29 years in between.
The arrival of coach Dykes and new quarterback Buechele to the SMU football program is proving to be a successful combination. Maybe it’s because both men have a lot in common, with famous athletic fathers who coached/played in sports opposite of the ones they chose for themselves.
Sonny’s dad, Spike, was the Head Football Coach at Texas Tech, where Sonny was a player. You might wonder what position Sonny played. Good question; he was a first baseman. That’s right – Sonny was a baseball player at Tech. Thankfully, he came to his football senses after graduating and followed in his famous father’s coaching footsteps.
At Arlington Lamar, Shane Buechele was one of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the country. At the time, his dad Steve was on the Rangers coaching staff. The Buecheles flipped the Dykes script a bit didn’t they? A baseball playing/coaching dad spawned a football playing son. Shane considered all of his offers and chose the University of Texas, where things started well but did not end as he would have chosen. But he graduated early and brought two years of eligibility with him to a Masters Program at SMU.
I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the fathers of both men. I feel like I have been quoting Spike Dykes since “Moby Dick was a minnow” (that is actually one of Spikes nuggets of homespun wisdom). I shared the Fox Sports College football set with Spike for several years. We had such fun watching and talking about college football and life every Saturday. It is not surprising to me that his son is such a good coach and such a good man.
Similarly, Shane’s Dad, Steve Buechele, sits on the Rangers Live set with me. It is not a surprise that Shane is a great athlete; his dad was a third baseman in the big leagues for 11 seasons. It is not a surprise that he is a smart player; after all, his dad went to Stanford. And it is not a surprise that he is handling his success well, because his dad is one of the most humble, down-to-earth, elite athletes I have ever met.
From two great families a marvelous sports story is born. So, Arlington, even if you have never rooted for SMU, this might be the year to jump on the bandwagon! There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of other players, coaches and families involved in this amazing SMU season, but one of our hometown sons is helping to make history. Go Ponies! Go Sonny! Go Shane!