MIAMI SPRINGS, Fla. -- Ray Morrison, Southern Methodist's first football coach, died the day before one of the most important games in the school's history.
Morrison, 97, died Friday at the home of his son. The second-ranked Mustangs will go after a third unbeaten, untied regular season campaign today at home against the No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks.
In two separate tenures at SMU, the second one ending in 1934, Morrison compiled an 84-44-22 record. Included was the school's first unbeaten, untied season in 1923.
Morrison graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1912, earning four letters each in football, baseball and track.
Three years later he was in Dallas, having been hired by SMU to become the school's first coach of all men's athletic teams. Before the first students ever registered at SMU in 1915, Morrison and a small staff were preparing fields around the campus for athletic competition.
He coached the first two SMU football teams in 1915 and 1916 before going back to his alma mater as head coach.
He returned to SMU in 1920 to organize the department of physical education and two years later resumed his former duties as Mustangs' coach.
His teams went 9-0-0 in 1923, 8-0-1 in 1926, 6-0-4 in 1927 and 9-1-1 in 1931. He returned to Vanderbilt in 1935, leaving behind players that posted a 12-0 season under Madison Bell and then lost to Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
During Morrison's years at SMU, the forward pass became an accepted method of moving the ball and when the Mustangs used the pass to win a Southwest Conference title in 1926 his teams became billed as the 'Aerial Circus.'
'Other teams were throwing five or six passes,' Morrison remembered a few years before his death. 'We'd usually throw between 30 and 40. The most we ever threw was 51.'
Morrison, after leaving Vanderbilt in 1938, coached at Temple University and then finished his coaching career at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.