The 1935 Mustangs were among the most talented teams in SMU history. Led by first-year coach Matty Bell, the Mustangs won 12 games, highlighted by a 20-14 win over TCU and Sammy Baugh. A win the following week over Texas A&M capped off the undefeated regular season. SMU won the Southwest Conference, held on to its No. 1 ranking and earned the right to face Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
More than 10,000 fans, including Texas Governor James Allred, rode the trains from Texas to California to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade and the football game. The Mustangs and their much-vaunted aerial circus played before 86,000 fans on New Year’s Day. As part of the pre-game festivities, the Mustang Band performed with Ginger Rogers at the Los Angeles train station and gave a concert at the Paramount Theatre in Hollywood.
Because of heavy traffic, it took 45 minutes for the Mustang players to get from their hotel to the Rose Bowl, a trip of less than half a mile. The weather was drab and colorless. The game was defensive – not the passing game that the Ponies preferred. Stanford was the underdog, having lost twice in the regular season, but it prevailed 7-0.
But Dallas gallantly welcomed its team home. Nearly 25,000 fans turned out at Union Station in the middle of the night to cheer for the Mustangs as they got off the train. One of the redeeming features from the Rose Bowl experience was that SMU earned nearly $71,000 from gate receipts and movie rights, a huge windfall in the middle of the Great Depression, enabling the University to pay off the debt on Ownby Stadium.
SMU Archives collects materials that chronicle the University’s past. If you have any Rose Bowl (or other) memorabilia, contact University archivist Joan Gosnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-768-2261.
–By DeGolyer Library Director Russell L. Martin III (’78, ’84) and Joan Gosnell