Monday, January 7, 2008
Jones picks SMU despite Hawaii blitz
ESPN.com news services
June Jones was introduced at a news conference Monday as the new head coach at SMU.
Earlier, Jones' agent, Leigh Steinberg, confirmed that Jones had agreed to a 5-year deal worth about $2 million per year.
On Sunday, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad that SMU was close to finalizing the details of a contract for Jones. The source said the deal is expected to be booster-funded. SMU athletic director Steve Orsini reportedly has sold as many as 20 boosters on the concept of donating as much as $100,000 per year for five years.
Jones was moved by Hawaii fans, including Gov. Linda Lingle, who pushed for him to stay. But, ultimately, facilities and a bigger budget won out. Jones called Hawaii officials Monday morning to tell
them of his decision.
"He slept on it, finally came to peace and arrived at a
decision,'' Steinberg said. "I think he's exhilarated by the
challenge, by the environment.''
Jones, who turns 55 next month, has gone 75-41 with Hawaii, including 4-2 in bowls. His teams finished first in the WAC twice and second two other times. The Warriors lost to Georgia in the 2008 Sugar Bowl.
"No matter what he ever did or no matter how much he won he wasn't going to have the right money or facilities," Colt Brennan, Hawaii's Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback told Schad. "I'm sad to see him go but after just having experienced the Sugar Bowl I understand how this is a business."
Brennan won't be back next season for Hawaii.
"My concern is Hawaii," Brennan said. "I hope it doesn't hurt our program and I don't think it has to. I would personally like to see Hawaii hire Norm Chow. I think he would be a great fit for Hawaii just like coach Jones was."
Former SMU coach Phil Bennett, who was let go in October, was the fourth coach to lead SMU since it came off the death penalty in 1989. The Mustangs are 58-153-3 in that span. The
on-field struggles have been compounded by the long, slow hunt for
The search has taken about 10 weeks, with SMU going from the
first major college with a vacancy to the only one left without a
coach. The school received permission to speak with Jones on Dec.
Joe Schad covers college football for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.