Shun the 11-year-olds if you want. But someday they'll be college freshmen.

June Cometh. And, Apparently, He Taketh Away.

I had really high hopes for June Jones and SMU. But as far as first impressions go, this year sucks.

First, on the field, the offensive guru turned talented quarterback Justin Willis into one of David Copperfield’s assistants, quickly disappearing never to be seen again. His Mustangs – heartily entertaining, only to lose at the gun – look a lot like Phil Bennett’s Mustangs. Entering Saturday’s slaughter at Navy, SMU has lost six row and is 1-7, mostly thanks to its atrocious defense. The Ponies are surrendering an unfathomable 501 yards per game, 119th out of 120 I-A teams.

Young players. First year. New system. Learning curve. Yadda and more yadda. Maybe.

But there’s no excuse for how Jones and SMU are treating the young football kids of Richardson.

Last year my son played for the 5th-Grade Lions in Richardson’s Spring Valley Athletic Association. It’s a quality, well-run team in a quality, well-run league. This year’s 6th-Grade edition isn't quite as good, though still spiffy enough for Tony Romo’s second cousin to play for them.

Highlight of the year for SVAA’s kids is playing one of their games at SMU’s Ford Stadium. This year that high won't be nearly as carbonated. When the SVAA invades Ford starting this afternoon and throughout tomorrow, teams will no longer be able to warm-up on SMU’s practice field and fans will be confined to a couple of the stadium’s west-side sections.

Also, for the first time, SMU is charging $2 admission to fans 12-over. Geez.

I went to SVAA's "SMU Day" last season, and it was a thrill to see the kids smile ear-to-ear as they reached down and touched the manicured, lush grass on the practice field. This year, however, the SVAA has been told its teams can warm-up only in the stadium’s concrete concourses.

In the past, Bennett even addressed SVAA coaches a couple times. Not so with Jones.

“You just don’t get the same warm feelings,” one SVAA coach said. “Part of the fun for the kids was practicing on the field and then going over and running into the stadium. Shame that’s being taken from them.”

Come to think of it, maybe Jones’ outfit could learn a thing or two from some 6th graders. – Richie Whitt

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