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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 5, 2008

Jones loss will tarnish UH's brass

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

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Head coach June Jones, our June, digging out of the University of Hawai'i to coach the Southern Methodist University football team?

Eo Na Toa, pardner?

To be quite honest, as Jones himself is fond of saying, the possibility just doesn't compute.

Thurston Howell III of Gilligan's Island fame "went" to SMU. Jones attended UH.

Jones hand-picked the colors at UH. At SMU, according to legend, they borrowed theirs from Harvard and Yale.

Perhaps the only thing harder to imagine than the idea of Jones bolting Manoa for "The Hilltop" would be UH administrators waiting until Thursday night to make him a renewal offer on a contract where the last game had already been played.

To wait until two days after the final game of the season to tender an offer and then by e-mail when you wrote the contract and knew its expiration date was fast approaching, is pretty crazy. Frankly, it would be hard to imagine at an NCAA Division I-A school.

But, then, so, too, would be taking until the 11th hour to put together the football schedule for 2007. So would be waiting until April to hire Bob Nash as the men's basketball coach when he was on campus the whole time. So would not gauging the potential interest in Bowl Championship Series tickets before deciding how many you are going to take.

So, maybe, we shouldn't be surprised that Jones is scheduled to be in Dallas this weekend to discuss a job at a place that has had but one winning season in the past 20 years.

We're told SMU's athletic director has been out working the boosters for $10 million with which to hire a new coach and staff. This at a place where the most recent coach was fired in October. Maybe what Jones finds appealing at SMU, besides the rumored $1.7 million to $2 million contract that would await, is that people there have been galvanized to do something.

But, then, raising money has hardly been the problem at SMU, a school the NCAA said ponied up to buy enough players to get the so-called "death penalty" that closed down the program for two years (1987-'88). The problem in University Park has been winning football games, something the Ponies have struggled to do in the Southwest Conference, Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA.

Yes, we know Jones loves a challenge. And SMU would certainly be that in a town where it is an afterthought. A reminder of the depths that the once-proud Mustangs have operated at, UH, coming off its 0-12 season of 1998, broke a seven-year, 24-game WAC road losing streak at SMU.

So, all things considered, you have to shake your head at the possibility of Jones ending up at SMU.

But you'd have to wonder even more about UH if it turned out the administration all but held the door open for Jones to go there.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.

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