DENTON, Texas (2/8/05) The University of North Texas and SMU will resume a regional football rivalry beginning in 2006, the schools' athletic departments mutually announced today. In the two-year agreement, North Texas will host SMU at Fouts Field in Denton in 2006 and return a game to Ford Stadium in Dallas in 2007.
“It is exciting that the administration at SMU shares our conviction about the importance of North Texas and SMU playing each other in football,” Athletic Director Rick Villarreal said. “There is such a tremendous history between the two schools and it was disheartening to fans and alumni that the rivalry had become dormant. It has always been an effort of ours to renew the series with SMU and continue to focus our future schedules on regional competition.”
The two schools attempted to extend the contract to include games beyond the 2007 season, but existing schedules precluded that effort. “We will continue to work with SMU to secure games beyond this contract,” Villarreal said. “Right now we couldn’t get anything finalized past these two games, but we are confident that this rivalry will continue well into the future.”
The two schools are separated by just 35 miles but have not met on the football field since 1992. The 2006 meeting will reconvene a series that dates back to 1922 and has included many memorable games. North Texas broke a 45-year drought with a 24-13 win over the Mustangs in 1977 a game voted as one of the top 10 in North Texas history by a recent fan poll. The Mean Green also defeated SMU 14-7 at Fouts Field in 1990 which is the only win ever against the Mustangs at home.
North Texas head coach Darrell Dickey and SMU head coach Phil Bennett are longtime friends, having both served as assistant coaches at LSU from 1991-93.
“I have tremendous respect for Coach Bennett and I admire what he is doing with the SMU program,” Dickey said. “Our families have always been close and continue to be close. He is a great coach and more importantly a great person.”
Dickey was the offensive coordinator at SMU before being named the head coach at North Texas in 1998. He coached current Mean Green offensive coordinator Ramon Flanigan, who was a standout quarterback for the Mustangs from 1992-96 and is still the school’s career leader in total offense.
“It’s only natural that North Texas and SMU should be playing each other every year,” Dickey said. “It will create a lot of excitement for both teams’ fans and they deserve to be a part of such a special rivalry.”
Hall of Fame head coach Hayden Fry coached at both SMU (1962-72) and North Texas (1973-78), leading both programs to some of their most successful seasons in history. His 116 wins at SMU is the third-most in school history and his 33 victories over his last four years at North Texas is the most wins in a four-year span ever at the school. After taking over at North Texas in 1973, Fry resumed the series with SMU after the teams had not met since 1942. From 1974-1984 the two teams played seven of their eight games at Texas Stadium, which was Fry’s initiative.
In all, SMU holds a 27-3-1 advantage in the series over North Texas. The 2006 game will be just the second meeting at Fouts Field. Of the 31 games, 23 have taken place on the Dallas campus.
The SMU contract also completes the 2006 football schedule for North Texas. The Mean Green will open the 2006 season at Texas before games against the Mustangs and Tulsa. North Texas will also play a non-conference home game against Louisiana Tech in the middle of its Sun Belt Conference schedule.
2006 North Texas Football Schedule
Sept. 2 at Texas
Sept. 9 SMU
Sept. 16 at Tulsa
Sept. 30 Middle Tennessee*
Oct. 7 at Troy*
Oct. 21 Florida International*
Oct. 28 at Louisiana-Monroe*
Nov. 4 Louisiana Tech
Nov. 11 at Louisiana Lafayette*
Nov. 18 Florida Atlantic*
Nov. 25 at Arkansas State*
*Sun Belt Conference Game