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SMU WEEK: Minds on their money, and money on their minds

SMU has spent a lot on sports recently. And for what?

Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Ask yourself, Frog fans, "Who's Tim Leonard?"

If you can answer, "Why, he's the SMU athletic department fundraiser," then give yourself a pat on the back. And give him one, too-- Leonard has shaken down Mustang fans for about $25 million annually since he came to the Hilltop from Central Florida in 2008. (That's almost enough to balance SMU athletic department budget!) All that work has gotten him an award, and filled a lot of ink on 1040 Schedules A for the big money in Big D.

But what else has it done? Really-- is a cool $100 million a reasonable price for a .462 winning percentage on the gridiron, a great basketball coach, a football coach whom even Arizona State won't hire, a mountain of debt, a 1-3 record against your rival, and a seat on the Big East bus (destination: we'll know when we get there!)?

Maybe it's just my purple-tinted bias, but that's not my idea of a winning pitch.

Change one thing, however, and the pitch improves.

Start adding double-digit wins seasons, conference championships, and a BCS bowl or two. (OK, that's three things.) Can SMU do this, starting in 2012?

Probably not, but there has been such an infusion of talent into the program, that the Mustangs are more dangerous than pedigreed. It's not out of the realm of possibility that 2012 is the beginning of a new plateau in SMU football history.

It's probably a good thing that the Horned Frogs have a fresh score to settle when they travel to Dallas in September. Motivation, as we all re-learned a year ago, matters.