Ask yourself: "If I did not have a name, who would I be?" Try to imagine going to Ford Stadium next fall and cheering for the SMU Bisons. It just doesn't sound right, does it? SMU could have even been the home of the fighting Pioneers. But, thankfully, a name was selected that turned out to be a perfect fit: Mustangs. In 1917, SMU became the home of the Mustangs in one the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.
The first football teams at SMU were unofficially known as the "Parsons" because of the large number of theology students on the team. But after SMU won a state championship in women's basketball, it was determined that the university's teams needed an official mascots. The entire SMU community had the opportunity to offer their opinion on the new name. They submitted names such as Bulls, Rams, Comanches, Pioneers and Rattlers. The list was narrowed to three finalists, and at a pep assembly on October 17, 1917, the name "Mustangs" was selected over Bisons and Greyhounds.
The name was first coined by President Robert Hyer's secretary, Miss Dorothy Amann. She was struck by the idea while watching the team practice from her office in Dallas Hall: "Why, out there, on the football field, it looks just like a bunch of wild Mustangs!" Fifteen years later, SMU found the perfect live mascot to complement the name Mustangs by introducing Peruna.
On November 4, 1932, a live horse made its first appearance at a Mustang football game. Peruna I was a four-year old, 150 pound pony which was donated be T.E. Jones, the owner of Arlington Downs racetrack. The name Peruna originated in the fall of 1915 when SMU student George Sexton substituted the words, "She'll be loaded with Peruna when she comes..." to the tune of "Comin' Around the Mountain." In the early part of the century, Peruna was the name of the most famous elixir in Texas and had a reputation as a cure-all. Although the words to the song were changed some years later, Peruna remained as SMU's mascot.
The Mustang became well known throughout the Southwest, but in 1963 an event happened that made it a household name. Legend has it that when Ford Motor Company was preparing to introduce the sports car that would gain fame as the Mustang, it was considering other names such as Cougar, Bronco, Cheetah, and Colt. But during the 1963 football season, SMU took an undersized but quick team to Ann Arbor to play a massive Michigan Wolverine squad. Michigan gained the early advantage, but had to fight off the feisty Ponies for a 27-16 win. After the game, Ford's Lee Iacocca entered the SMU locker room and addressed the disappointed Mustangs. "Today," Iacocca said, "after watching the SMU Mustangs play with such flair, we reached a decision. We will call our new car the Mustang. Because it will be light, like your team. It will be quick, like your team. And it will be sporty, like your team." Ford's new car got its name, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In the 90 years of SMU football, it has become clear that SMU could only be known as the Mustangs. Without that name, we would not have had Mustang Mania, the Pony Express, and some of us might be driving a Ford Cheetah rather than a Ford Mustang. We thank Miss Dorothy Amann for her idea back in 1917 by placing it at No. 60 in our countdown of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.