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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 6, 2008

Possible loss of Jones brings dire forecasts

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

The apparent departure of University of Hawai'i head football coach June Jones would put "the athletic department behind the eight-ball," former UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida said last night.

Yoshida, whose eight-year term preceded current athletic director Herman Frazier, was part of a chorus of athletic figures who expressed concern about where a stunning exit by Jones would leave the state's only Division I-A athletic program following its history-making 12-1 season.

"It would be very disappointing," said Yoshida, who hired Jones away from the San Diego Chargers in December 1998. "It is a big blow to the program at a point where it was getting to the cutting edge."

Football is the financial engine for the 19-sport athletic program, bringing in more than a quarter of the revenue that it takes to run the $23-million athletic program.

"Certainly it leaves a huge hole for the program," said Jim Donovan, executive director of the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl and a former associate athletic director and football player at UH.

Prominent booster Walter Dods said announcement of Jones' departure "is heart-breaking to me. He (Jones) is a very special guy and he's done a lot for Hawai'i. You can't really measure how much he's done for the university, the football team and the state."

State Rep. Mark Takai D-34th (Newtown, Waiau, Pearl City), a former UH swimmer and frequent critic of Frazier, said, "I think (a loss of Jones) means a step back, not only for the athletic program, but the entire state."

Nevada coach Chris Ault said, "I'm sorry to hear he's (apparently) leaving. He's been a lot of fun to compete against."

Tennessee Titans' offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who has been prominently mentioned as a figure to be considered if there were to be an opening, said yesterday, "I've not given it one thought." Chow, a Punahou School alum and a former offensive coordinator at USC and Brigham Young, said, "I'm focused on our game with San Diego."

The Titans play the Chargers today in the AFC playoffs.

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo suggested the Warriors "should look within their program for a successor," if Jones leaves.

"They've got a number of qualified guys on their staff, coaches that were there to help June build the foundation."

Staff members said Cal Lee, Rich Miano, Dennis McKnight and Jeff Reinebold of the current staff would be the most likely candidates. Ron Lee and George Lumpkin are also likely to stay, staffers said.

Niumatalolo said "you need somebody who knows what Hawai'i is about, what the Aloha spirit is about."

Defensive coordinator Greg McMackin, quarterbacks' coach Dan Morrison and running backs coach Wes Suan are among the most likely to follow Jones.

Staff members have said as many as six assistants could join Jones, if he follows through on plans to go to SMU.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com.