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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Friendship with Glanville never wilted

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist


The fraternity of football coaches who have worked with Jerry Glanville have come to refer to it in hushed tones as "the black rose," the symbolic and almost always permanent severing of ties with those who have fallen out of favor with the enigmatic man in black.

That University of Hawai\'i head football coach June Jones was one of those who had been "black rosed," which makes their teaming up here this season for the Warriors all the more remarkable.

To watch them on the UH practice field or around the athletic department is to believe they have been inseparable, two peas from the same maverick pod, since they first crossed paths in 1977.

To see how Jones has recharged his batteries off the energy his mentor generates is to assume they have been back-slappin\' buddies without respite. Two soul mates who would ride off into the sunset on their Harleys together.

But the truth of the matter is that these two kindred spirits had not spoken to each other for nearly 12 years until Jones dared to pick up the phone this March, ending their icy separation.

The call inviting Glanville to return to coaching as the Warriors\' defensive coordinator was a rapprochement of rare proportions. And, for the Warriors, one that has perhaps come just in the nick of time.

"Jerry is a great guy but Jerry is very ... well, whenever he\'s had a coach leave him he has never spoken to them again," Jones said. "And, when I took the (head) coaching job at Atlanta in 1993 (following Glanville\'s firing) I called him two, three times and he never returned my call."

Jones wanted to explain how he, valuing their friendship, had turned the job down twice and how, finally, the owners and some players had prevailed on him to take the position. But the man who brought him into coaching had already tuned him out.

"So, I just said, \'OK, I\'m black-rosed,\' " Jones said, resigned to the fate. "We used to say that meant you were done."

And so it seemed for the longest time. While Jones went on with football and Glanville tried the race circuit and other interests, the two never crossed paths. Never exchanged words, much less Christmas cards.

But in poking around the Internet in the months leading up to spring practice this year, Jones came to notice Glanville\'s name popping up around several coaching vacancies. A few calls around the coaching circuit confirmed that Glanville wanted to scratch the coaching itch again.

Jones had given some thought in recent years to trying to defrost their relationship and now, suddenly staring at him from his office phone was an opportunity that he knew neither of them could turn down. A reunion that would do them both good.

So, Jones exhausted all the old numbers in his book before calling a mutual friend with the St. Louis Rams for assistance.

"When I called Bill Kollar and told him what I wanted to do, he said, \'You gotta be kidding me. That would be unreal.\' Then he told me (if it works), \'hey, you gotta call me back and tell me everything.\' "

The funny thing, Jones said, was that when they finally began to talk, "it was like we had spoken just three days ago" instead of more than a decade of separation.

Before they talked about all the job entailed or what it would pay, Jones said he urged Glanville to come out for a visit just so they could clear the air. "I wanted to tell him what had come down and that I\'d always been loyal," Jones said. "I\'m the most loyal person in the history of football."

Then, Jones told him about the community interest in the team and the players they would coach. "I explained that it was different here. These kids will play hard for you, they\'re respectful; they\'re good kids. It was like strike ball — where the players just wanted you to tell them how to be a good player."

Jones said: "I told him, \'We\'ll have the most fun we\'ve ever had. You\'ll see.\' "

And, then, the "black rose" was lifted.