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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 8, 2008

June, what happened to 'ohana?

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

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You wouldn't know it by all the wailing and gnashing, but there are a few people who won't be at Honolulu International Airport pressing their teary faces to the glass, waving bruised ti leaves and calling "Come back, June! Come back!" to the departing plane.

Believe it or not, there are actually a few people in Hawai'i who looked at Emperor Jones and didn't see the widely reported fancy duds. And I'm not even talking about Joe Moore.

There are those who love the team, love the players, used the equity on their house to go to the Sugar Bowl, stood in line for hours at Kahala Mall for autographs, but deep down saw Jones for the self-serving opportunist that he is.

All that talk about the team being a big, loving, stick-together 'ohana if they really are a family, then Daddy shouldn't be leaving the kids behind in the house with no soap and tattered carpets. Daddy should stay and use his considerable pull to make it better for everyone, not parachute out for more money and a new set of kids. A family sticks together and blooms where they're planted. Like Lilo told Stitch, 'ohana means nobody gets left behind. Jones is leaving Hawai'i behind.

You could look at the offer from Southern Methodist University as a stroke of fate, or just inevitable that another team would scoop up Jones after his winning season. But perhaps it was a grand scheme, a staged drama designed to whip everyone into a bidding frenzy. He got Hawai'i so worked up with the "maybe there's a chance he'll stay" story over the weekend that people were making signs, planning demonstrations and making big promises. He could pick up his ringing cell phone at the SMU dinner table and go, "S'cuse me. It's the governor calling again. I should take this."

What an act.

Yes, it's great that the team made it to the Sugar Bowl, but once there, though most fans seem to have collective amnesia about this, it was not a great performance. The team was not overrated, but they were underprepared and that was Jones' fault. Jones turned the program from a losing one to a winning one, but only if you look at the scoreboard. On other measures, there is considerable work to do.

So goodbye, June Jones. Have a good life in Texas. Hope SMU gives you new carpet in your office, soap in the locker room showers and lets you change the team name to something that sounds "tougher." But auntie with the lei for your players won't be there. She'll be right here where you left her, making lei for HER team, not yours. Hawai'i fans know about commitment.

Bye, June. Don't let the door hit you in the wallet on the way out.

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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