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Beating A Dead Mustang

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Sorry to disappoint, but I’m talking about this deceased equine, not that one. As I wrote in this week’s paper version of Unfair Park, Dale Hansen’s role in the 1980s SMU pay-for-play scandal made him more pariah than Peruna. He broke the story, which, coupled with the death of the Southwest Conference, catapulted SMU football into 21 years of knee-deep shit.

At a pep rally in 1989, then-head coach Forrest Gregg promised the Mustangs would play in a Cotton Bowl within 10 years, but its been 23 -- and counting -- since SMU experienced anything but the toilet bowl. “Just ask the Rangers, it’s hard to break the cycle of losing,” says Hansen. “At this point it’s going to take a bolt of lightning, a blue-chip stud. Until then, they’re stuck.”

Hansen says he’s made up with most of his SMU adversaries. I said most.

Along with death threats and dead birds, Dale also received a nitty-gritty extortion attempt back in 1987. Most troubling to Hansen and his wife was a letter, hand-delivered to his house in Roanoke, claiming to have information and photographs detailing his involvement with drug dealers, girlfriends and sexual escapades with SMU co-eds on a pool table in a Dallas apartment. The info, according to the threat, would be released to the media if Hansen didn’t recant his SMU story and leave Dallas.

“I flew back from Rangers spring training and met with lawyers,” Dale recalls. “But almost immediately I said, ‘Sure, tell ‘em to send me the pics’, and got back on the plane. I knew they were bluffing. Everyone knows I’ve never been involved with drugs.”

Ba-dum-bum. --Richie Whitt

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