Chat with Eric Dickerson, Craig James
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, we'll have Eric Dickerson stopping by to talk about "Pony Excess" that is part of ESPN's 30 for 30 project, commemorating ESPN's 30th anniversary. The film debuts Saturday night (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
30 for 30 is an unprecedented documentary series featuring 30 films from some of today's finest storytellers, detailing the events that transformed the sports landscape from 1979 to 2009.
"Pony Excess" tells about the Southern Methodist University Mustangs, a small private college in Dallas, that ruled college football in the 80s. But the program came apart at the seams, with frequent NCAA violations, as oil tycoons and real estate moguls earned power within the program. The NCAA eventually meted out "the death penalty" on a college football program for the first and only time in its history. SMU would be without football for two years, and the fan base would be without an identity for 20 more until the Mustangs' win in the 2009 Hawaii Bowl.
Send your questions now and join James and Dickerson Monday at noon ET!
Buzzmaster (11:54 AM)
Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson will be here at the top of the hour to take your questions!
Buzzmaster (12:00 PM)
Craig James is here too!
How do you think your SMU teams would stack up against some of the powerhouses today in college football?
Craig James (12:01 PM)
This film supports how good we were. We had great players, the best of that time. In other words, we would have competed for a national championship.
did you guys feel like rock stars on campus?
Eric Dickerson (12:01 PM)
(laughs) Good question. I don't think we felt like rock stars. We didn't look at it like that. We were just students.
Craig James (12:02 PM)
Eric Dickerson (12:02 PM)
I don't think I ever felt like a rock star.
How much pressure do you think there would be on a team like your SMU team if it were to play in today's environment? The media attention and everything else would be crazy.
Craig James (12:03 PM)
Not just SMU, but every team, as it is today. You would have had to have been aware of your surroundings as today's teams are.
Eric Dickerson (12:03 PM)
We would have adapted. They have picture phones and cell phones.
How much did it upset you when you heard about the punishment SMU received in the late 80s?
Eric Dickerson (12:04 PM)
Me, I was pissed. It was the offseason. Someone called me and told me. I saw it on TV. I thought it was unfair. We were guilty, but other people were just as guilty, if not more so.
Craig James (12:04 PM)
I had two kids at the time and one on the way. I do remember it being selective in my opinion. There were lots of schools.
Have you seen the film yet? Are you satisfied with the story it tells?
Eric Dickerson (12:06 PM)
I've seen it. I'm very satisfied. I think it goes into great detail of what happened. To me, it shows how other schools point the finger "look at what they're doing." I think it shows how a smaller school can get exploited by the smaller schools. With the NCAA, I always say this, Texas, Alabama, Notre Dame, USC would never have gotten the death penalty. You could have video of it and it would'nt have happened.
Craig James (12:07 PM)
I thought it did a great job of depicting that era. I learned a lot. I learned some things I never knew about, about our team and what happened when we were gone. The penalty came down after us. We didn't have the social media back then, so I didn't really know what was going on.
What do you think of the way that SMU has rebuilt itself?
Craig James (12:07 PM)
Not surprised. A great campus, phenomenal city, excellent education. It just needed a coach like June Jones who could get the talent on campus and then have a plan for success.
baton rouge,louisiana [via mobile]
Do u think eric would have won da heisman trophy if he was da lone rb at smu
Eric Dickerson (12:10 PM)
I don't know. It was possible. I got a chance to extend my NFL career because I was healthy. By my junior, senior year, it was all about winning for us. I believe this, if I would have been the lone back at SMU, they still wouldn't have let it happen. They liked the bigger schools. They favor those teams - Texas, SC, Alabama. They want that. It is was it is.
Craig James (12:10 PM)
I'll answer it for him. Absolutely.
How closely did you work with the director on the film to make sure he got your story right?
Eric Dickerson (12:11 PM)
Not at all. I just told my part. I just talked about what I knew about it. I think everyone did. Myself and other guys.
Craig James (12:11 PM)
We just did the interview. Answered questions.
How happy are you to see SMU back in bowl games?
Craig James (12:12 PM)
I think it's good for Texas. It's good for Texas high school athletes to have another option to have a bowl team inside the state, so they can stay if they want and play on a good ball club.
Eric, my cousin used to use you in Tecmo Bowl all the time. No question, just wanted to let you know. Thanks!
Eric Dickerson (12:12 PM)
LOL! It's funny when they tell me stories about Tecmo Bowl. Thanks. It just shows my age.
Were you satisfied with the 30 for 30 program? Do you stay in contact with Craig James and your other former teamates?
Eric Dickerson (12:13 PM)
I talk to a few of them. Armstrong, Charles, Craig. I talk to some of the guys every four or five months.
Craig James (12:13 PM)
When we get together, its like we never separated. Close team, good guys.
Do you think we would ever see the NCAA give out the death penalty again?
Craig James (12:14 PM)
It's a devastating blow to more than just a football team. The entire university takes a hit for the actions of a few. I think a classic example has been made recently with a couple of schools not getting the death penalty.
Eric Dickerson (12:15 PM)
They will never do it again. I didn't think they should. It's the wrong thing to do. If you really want to hurt somebody, like USC, make them pay back the $15 million for playing in the bowl game and the money from Reggie Bush's jerseys.
How do you want your SMU teams to be remembered?
Eric Dickerson (12:15 PM)
As great teams, that's what they were. There were some great teams. Great players, great athletes. When you see the film, you will see how many great players we have. We were stacked.
Craig James (12:16 PM)
That's the bummer of this thing. When that death penalty came, everybody wanted to go to SMU. Why? Dallas. SMU. The campus. I heard someone say that we were really close to being a USC, in terms of a dynasty. We were right on the edge.
Eric Dickerson (12:16 PM)
And it was in Dallas. Kids love Dallas.
Eric Dickerson (12:18 PM)
I would like to say thank you for watching and talking to us. Make sure you watch the 30 for 30. Enjoy it. It was a great era of football. What happened, happened.
Craig James (12:18 PM)
Try to enjoy the film and not be judgemental. Look at it and reflect that that was the culture then.