From the middle of The Mob:

An insider’s look at SMU’s rowdy, courtside student fan section.

By Camden Moore
SMU News

DALLAS (SMU) - The sound of the dribble-smack against wood, sneaker-screech on slick panels and screaming voices all reverberate in Moody Coliseum whenever an opponent challenges the Mustangs on their home court. In the heart of this commotion sits The Mob – that wild rabble of rambunctious student fans – who unlike most mobs, boldly bear their membership across their chests.

Whenever the men’s basketball team was in the house this season, so was one of the proudest members of The Mob. Tammy Winter is an SMU senior Economics and Public Policy major who never missed a game – or celebrity appearance - in the last two years she's been cheering for her Mustangs with The Mob.  

Few are louder.

“I am of the opinion that if you are in The Mob then you need to be up cheering,” Winter says.

That “never say die” attitude is an outgrowth of the AAC championship team the Mob supports.

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These are seven scholarship players who play like a dozen. Behind them, the mob that numbers 120 yells like 240. And when the pressure is on, The Mob brings it up to full throttle – something the men on the court say always makes a difference.

“I really think SMU does have a culture that extends beyond SMU,” Winter explains. “There are people at the games who have been coming consistently for 20 years. There's just a tradition and there’s just a lot of energy and people are just really excited for the games,” Winter said.

In some ways the Mob is like the team it supports. They have been brought together by a common cause.

“There’s a story to be told about our basketball team and how they progress. And it’s cool to get to watch a team that genuinely likes each other,” Winter says. “They’re all friends and it shows in how they play.”

It’s a unifying experience.

“I might not have anything obvious in common with the person sitting next to me but when SMU is playing, that’s our team and we all are on the same page,” Winter said. “I think there is a lot to be said for what that does for a school and for an atmosphere, having a common goal.”

Winter does not claim to be a basketball expert – far from it. But she says she loves watching that unbeatable connection between teammates. And after attending a home game with her best friend during her sophomore year, she knew she had to be in the Mob.

Membership in the Mob has its perks – guaranteed basketball tickets, sweet T-shirts, half-time game opportunities, and more. But Mob members have to earn those privileges by spreading their attendance across a variety of SMU men’s and women’s athletic events.

This group is not camera-shy, and some of the regulars in Moody Coliseum are easily recognized from week-to-week by the costumes they wear – a king crab, a squid, superheroes and the occasional hot dog. They come from every region, and every academic discipline, but the common denominator is loud, outrageous fun.

Around the Mob, sprinkled courtside, are the celebrities – the NFL quarterbacks, their coaches, the former presidents (George W. Bush and his wife, alumna Laura Bush, are regulars).

The Mob may be a highlight of Winter’s SMU experience, but in a city like Dallas, it’s hardly the only attraction. Winter loves all the opportunities the school and the city provide.

Coming to SMU, Winter wanted this access to the city around her. There’s just a lot to do in Dallas, she says, and it caters to a lot of different people – hardly a “one-note” city.

And she wanted to go to school where she could get great internships: “Like my internships at the George W. Bush Institute and Charles Koch Institute,” Winter said. “If I want to go check out weird coffee places, or go see a Cowboys game, all of those things are really important to me, too.”

A resident assistant in Armstrong Commons, Winter encourages her residents to explore the city by sharing her personal experiences – like her favorite coffee shops, the best burger joints, and various yoga studios around town.

After she graduates in May, Tammy plans to explore a variety of options that reach beyond her public policy degree. SMU, she said, has given her the tools she needs to discover a new path after college, just as the University allowed her to write her own story during her time on the Hilltop.

“What I love about SMU is that there are so many avenues for me to pursue something that no one else is doing, like writing for my friend’s blog called ‘Third Law’ or working at the O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom,” Winter said. “And that’s a story a lot of people have at SMU. Anything I can do to leave some sort of tangible impact…that’s what I am into.”