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Dickerson praises SMU AD Orsini

SMU coach June Jones is at the forefront of the program's turnaround, but the man who facilitated the hire, SMU all-time rushing leader Eric Dickerson, said athletic director Steve Orsini deserves significant credit for his genuine commitment to improving the football program, a quality that Dickerson said his predeccesors didn't always have.

SMU plays Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl at 7 p.m. today on ESPN. It is SMU's first bowl appearance in 25 years.

Dickerson said Orsini made serious inroads with former players, bringing them back into the program where many had felt ostracized.

Dickerson, a close friend of Jones', worked closely with Orisini to bring the former Hawaii coach to the Hilltop. Dickerson said he was first impressed with Orsini when the AD and basketball coach Matt Doherty called him to talk over a meal when the two were in Southern California, Dickerson's home. Dickerson said he was hesitant at first because he had been through this routine before with past ADs and nothing within the culture of the program ever changed.

"I give Steve a lot of credit. You have to as AD," Dickerson said. "Past ADs didn’t have the commitment. Orsini welcomed back alums. He has really stepped it up and that’s what it needs. It’s like he attended SMU. He loves the program and that's what you need."

Jones said past players have come back to visit throughout the season.

"A lot of people have been back, not only the last bowl team, but a lot of the guys from the late 80s and early 90s that were on the team," Jones said.