Thursday, December 24, 2009
SMU's June Jones, soothsayer
By Jeff Caplan
Call it his island calmness or a quiet confidence, but the first thing June Jones' players notice about their coach is his peaceful demeanor. Jones is not a yeller. He doesn't scream. He doesn't brow-beat.
A football coach who doesn't yell? It's true and it's one reason SMU players say they're playing in the Hawaii Bowl today against Nevada. Kickoff is 7 p.m. on ESPN.
"Look at him right now," senior receiver Emmanuel Sanders said, pointing at Jones on the field during the early portion of a practice before the team left for Waikiki. "All he does is walk smoothly and swiftly around the field, tell everybody 'hey,' and you know, he’s just a laid-back, real chill guy, and when it comes down to work, it’s time to work and when it comes down to have fun, he loves to have fun, too. It’s strange with coach Jones because he’s an old-school coach, but he’s really a new-school coach. He’s one of those guys, like a recruit will come here on a visit; most [young] guys shake your hand with the new cool hand shake, you dab up, all that, I mean he does all that. He understands the old school and the new school and that’s what you need in a head coach."
Jones said he could see the team buying into his concepts in training camp, but that it was the second game of the season, a road win at UAB that really got things going. SMU won, 35-33. It was an emotional victory because the Ponies had to demonstrate plenty of fortitude to pull it out. It made SMU 2-0 and it was the kind of game it would have lost in prior seasons.
"The crazy thing about coach Jones is you have to be around him to understand him," said junior running back Shawnbrey McNeal, a Dallas native who played his first season under Jones after transferring from Miami. "To see the way he runs things shows a lot about how much he actually knows what he’s doing. Once you get a coach that knows what he’s doing, is comfortable believing in what he’s doing is going to work, no matter where you go you’re going to have success."