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SMU in a Bowl Game, a Christmas Miracle

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The SMU contingent stationed in Waikiki this holiday week appears to be having a fine time, judging by director of media relations Robert Bobo's ecstatic Aloha SMU blog. Tonight's the big game: the Hawaii Bowl, kick-off 7 p.m. Maybe not big to most, but huge to some -- say, SMU alum, like my father, for whom the Mustangs' return from the dead is nothing less than a Hanukkah miracle.

It's also a big deal for Joe Drape, author of Our Boys and writer for The New York Times -- and an SMU grad with a niece currently attending the school as a freshman, matter of fact. This morning, Drape looks back at his days as an undergrad on The Hilltop in the early 1980s (when "Southern Methodist University had the best football team money could buy"), which were quickly followed by the NCAA standing the school in front of a firing squad. Drape talks to school and NCAA officials about that 1987 decision; most, including SMU president R. Gerald Turner, agree that, yeah, maybe it wasn't such a bad thing after all:

On Thursday I will have an eye on the television when S.M.U. makes its first postseason appearance in 25 years in the Hawaii Bowl against Nevada. I'll pull for the Mustangs, whose players were not even born when my alma mater made the death penalty part of the college sports vernacular. But I won't get misty-eyed. We deserved our ignominy.

So, what does the return to prominence mean to the program?

"It proves there is life after death," Athletic Director Steve Orsini said.

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