Monday, December 12, 2011

Coach's Luncheon

I live-tweeted (is that a word?) portions of the SMU Coach's luncheon. You can read that at http://twitter.com/@SMUFootballBlog

I think people heard what they wanted to hear.

If you think June Jones hung the Moon, you were thrilled and thought June Jones said all that needs to be said.

If you want to be upset with June Jones , then you didn't hear enough.

I guess I had low expectations and am not that upset he didn't get down on his knees and beg my forgiveness. I will get into it in a bit, but I do think he owes me (and those like me) an apology. I don't really think I got it today and don't expect to get it.

I think a lot of people have read a lot of things into my tweets (still hate the word) and the other summaries that just don't exist. I don't feel patronized; I don't feel like June talked to people like they were idiots (which, btw, people forget Phil Bennett was famous for).

Couple of items:

June said he was never offered and never accepted the ASU job. That may be sort of true. I have read a coach's contract offer/letter of intent before and they are the most ambiguous writings I have ever read as a lawyer. I showed it to a couple of other attorneys and the consensus was it was borderline unenforceable. It had language that said it wasn't offered until it was accepted or somesuch. Regardless, it gave both school and coach plausible deniability that an offer was never made in the event things fell through. Maybe that is disingenuous. But that's where we live today sports.

I do fault Super Agent Leigh Steinberg (TM) for a lot of this and you get the sense June does too. I can also understand June saying he won't cut ties with a guy that he has worked with for 20 years that has helped him earn millions of dollars. Still, a lot of what upsets me can be traced back to a tweet and blog post accredited to Super Agent Leigh Steinberg (TM) and for which, despite what June might suggest otherwise, Super Agent Leigh Steinberg (TM) is solely responsible for.

Where this goes, at the end of the day, I presume is an extension. I could be wrong, but I expect that announcement to be made fairly soon. Nothing was mentioned at the luncheon, but it is the logical next step in the cleanup of this mess.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

June Jones on with Dale Hanson Tonight (updated)

WFAA Channel 8. Should be interesting. Dale usually isn't afraid to ask the tough yet uninformed question.

Will June wear Red and/or Blue? Will there be an SMU logo anywhere? If I were SMU SID Brad Sutton, I would stop by the SMU bookstore just in case.

Set the DVR...

Update: turns out June won't be on despite fact that they promoted it on Channel 8 this AM.

So WFAA promotes it, but it isn't happening? Sounds odd. Suggests June didn't have the time, but channel 8 did. II am sure June has a good reason for not doing it, if so. Too bad he pissed all his goodwill away or else, I'd believe it.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

I am on Twitter

Why? Because we all are.

@smufootballblog

Quick Hit: Rice Game Attendance

Much has been made of the lack of attendance at the Rice-SMU game. Personally, I thought attendance was better than previous post-Thanksgiving games. I recall sparse crowds for even TCU-SMU on those dates (at either place).

This is not a problem unique to SMU. There is a reason Texas-Texas A&M was that week every year. There was a reason those schools weren't scheduling Rice that week.

Should it be better? Yes. However, I think it is unfair to judge SMU on what I suspect is historically the worst attended weekend attendance-wise in college football.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Did That Just Happen?

So here I am sitting at my computer listening to the Black Keys’ “El Camino” (which I highly recommend, BTW) and I am just flabbergasted. I thought I was going to write about a coaching search. Seriously. Just a giant case of WTF?-itis. Did this just happen? Did this just unhappen?

Last Thursday, I was listening to the Troy Aikman show on the KTCK. They talked for a minute about the UCLA coaching search. Troy said he was excited because he had some information on who they were looking at, but he wouldn’t share. For some reason, that made me nervous; I had a suspicion he was talking about June. Aikman and June Jones have the same agent-Leigh Steinberg.

I thought on Monday June Jones was leaving and going to Arizona State. I assumed on Tuesday, June Jones was staying. I was sure Wednesday AM he was leaving for Arizona State. Then, on Thursday afternoon, it breaks that Arizona State has withdrawn its offer.

For those that need a refresher, here is a timeline:

November 28th- ASU fires Dennis Erickson. ASU hires Dallas search firm Eastman & Beaudine to assist with the search. Eastman & Beaudine assisted with the SMU searches that led to the selections of Steve Orsini, Matt Doherty and June Jones. Bob Beaudine is a graduate of SMU.

December 2nd-SMU begins the biggest recruiting weekend in the last 20+ years.

December 3rd-At some point during the day, ASU officials meet with June Jones for several hours.

Late December 4th-June Jones is announced as the only finalist for the ASU coaching position. Outrage on the message boards, twitter, myspace, tumbler and, hell, probably e-harmony as well, breaks out suggesting that June Jones is not acceptable. Apparently, in the mind of the ASU fan, June Jones is “Dennis Erickson-lite,” which I guess means a decent name, player coach, old and mediocre.

December 5th-Outrage on the web has reached such a fever-pitch that ASU backs off and is determined to slow things down, interview the Sumlin and Fedora’s of the world at the coaching convention in NY taking place as I write this. This is all well and good, but it quickly appearing that Fedora is going to UNC; Sumlin is likely going to A&M; Art Briles is uninterested in leaving Baylor.

December 6th- By the end of the day, June Jones is the only candidate again.

SMU LB recruit Thomas Brown commits to ASU. This is interesting. ASU doesn’t have a coach. Thomas Brown has never visited there. Thomas Brown has said he was deciding between Nebraska and SMU. Now he is committed to ASU.

Khalil Pettway, SMU commit, the highest rated recruit in SMU’s class, decommits. He was visiting this past weekend while June Jones talked with ASU.

At some point, June calls his staff together for a meeting in Dallas on the 7th. This is interesting because, (i) his staff is on the road recruiting; and (ii) he is supposed to be in NY. There is an alumni event in NY on the 7th and both Steve Orsini and June Jones are supposed to be in attendance.

Outrage is beginning to percolate on the ASU boards again.

December 7th-AM: June Jones has agreed to coach ASU. There is a deal in principle. June meets with his staff and says he is leaving. June apparently tells some players he is leaving, although there is no team meeting.

ASU outrage is boiling.

December 7th-PM: June is clearly out at ASU. He will not coach at ASU. Money quote from Leigh Steinberg: "Just had one of the most bizarre endings to a set of productive discussions to bring a client to a new situation. Everything was set, few tweaks left, and the principal decision maker yanks the deal with no real explanation."

Can’t find the quote, but Turner says that June Jones will lead SMU to the Big East or something to that effect.

Orsini still attends the NY alumni event (obviously, June who was/is in Dallas, was not in attendance). Austin Kilgore was there and tweeted about it. His twitter feed is here: https://twitter.com/aus10fromhous10

Orsini suggests June will continue to be the coach. Gerald Ford suggests the same. I am not going to say “follow” the guy, but his tweets from this event are interesting. Go read them. Or follow the guy. He does something with real estate and mortgages. I am sure it is riveting.

Anyway…

You can go to ponyfans or rivals or scout and read the same speculation, but it is just that: speculation. Bottom line right now is June Jones either leaves stays or he is leaving voluntarily or involuntarily. If I had to place a bet, I wouldn’t. If you gave me money and told me I had to place a bet, I suppose right now I bet June Jones is coaching SMU next week, next month and next year.

I can see June Jones “retiring” from college coaching, with a plan to coach again when this blows over. He would not be at SMU and SMU wouldn’t pay him. I guess June could get a job as a QB coach in the NFL, though I doubt anyone would hire him as a coordinator or head coach. If he “retired,” however, if I were SMU, I hold the contract over him until it expires in 2015, keeping him out as a head coach at the college level.

I can see SMU sacking June Jones over this, though that appears unlikely. The “Circle of Champions” would have to make the call and pony up the money to buy out Jones and then pay for a new coach. I don’t think people realize the money involved there. More likely, SMU and June Jones reaching a mutual agreement to part ways. The parties would have to negotiate some dollar amount less than the $6,000,000 he is owed on his contract. Contrary to the views of the amateur lawyers on the message boards, I don’t see “cause” to fire Jones over this, meaning SMU would have to buy him out of the approximately $6,000,000 he is owed on his contract. That being said, if June and his staff used SMU resources to recruit kids to another university….

I can’t see June Jones coaching anywhere but SMU in 2012. He is toxic to programs at this point. Rivals notes the $2,000,000 buyout. Yes, that is something. However, the first thing that will be brought up is the ASU matter.

June has some work to do. I am not forgiving this. This was nonsense. June Jones needs to sit down with Orsini and figure out how he will fix this mess. Reassure recruits for this year and next. Reassure the assistants for this year and next. Oh, and reassure the fanbase, too... if he can.

On the road again...

Sigh.

I haven't blogged in three years. Be gentle.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bo Levi Mitchell may lap Justin Willis’ Freshman records

Perhaps no topic garners more discussion than this one. Mitchell versus Willis; Willis versus Mitchell.

Lost in the scuttlebutt of leading the Houston game for all but the last few seconds was an interesting statistic. Bo Levi Mitchell set the SMU freshman record for passing yards with 2,047 (with four games to play). He will almost certainly break the SMU freshman total offense record of 2,401 this week. Further, Mitchell has 21 passing touchdowns (22 total touchdowns) and has four games to play; Willis had 26 passing touchdowns (29 total touchdowns) his freshman year (lest we forget he sat a game).

Not so long ago, SMU ran this ad for a kid that scored 29 touchdowns.



Reminder: Bo Levi Mitchell is a TRUE freshman.

Barring injury (knock on wood), Mitchell will likely beat all of Willis’ freshman records. That includes interceptions, of course. Assuming Mitchell starts 12 games in 2009, he will obliterate all of Willis' career records as well.


Here is an interesting thought: the offense appears to be coming around somewhat; the last four games, SMU has averaged 28 points per game. Assume that SMU adds a field goal to that average over the next four weeks. SMU would then average as many points per game as it did in 2006.

The difference between 2006 and 2008, of course, is wins. The difference, of course, is a lousy start and a lousy defense. In 2006, SMU probably had the best defense it has had in 20 years and it still gave up points in bunches. Make no mistake-in the future, SMU will only go as far as its defense takes it.

So what does it mean? This is not an attempt to say that June Jones was right to start Bo Levi Mitchell. I think that decision was wrong. Nothing I have written above changes that. Mitchell played too early; he struggled; they tried to compensate by dumbing the offense down and made matters worse. Now, it appears he is starting to get it. But it does give you hope for the future. Next season, there will be an offense in place that will likely be better than any offense we have seen in 20 years. I think you have to be optimistic about that.

Now if we can just get a defense that only gives up 300 yards a game....

Friday, October 17, 2008

My review

Dammit. Some people noticed I have blogged twice in the last month. Maybe that will get me to do it again. Or not. Or something.

Anyway, Tulsa was at Ford Stadium last week. Here is my review:

The first song was Leonard Cohen's "I'm your man." Then he went straight into Sinatra's "I've Got the World on a String." Wait. YOU wanted a review of the game? Sorry, dude. Wife dragged me to Michael Buble' for her Birthday. Going to see Michael Buble is not gay; going to Michael Buble for the second time in 9 months is gay.

A good friend provided constant updates via text message and for a moment, I was afraid I would have to avoid all future SMU games, because I thought my absence was going to lead to an SMU victory. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. By all accounts, however, there was improvement and a complete game was played on both sides of the ball.

Let's just keep it up Saturday against Houston.

My favorite comment from the stream of text messages was my own-"Hey, I am at the Michael Buble concert, is Houston in town?, because all the Cougars are here!"

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Keith Hernandez

Listening to the SMU-UCF game, I realized what this season was about. June Jones decided to pull a "Keith Hernandez."

When a person seems to do something completely off the wall and/or completely outrageous for no other reason than he or she is famous and feels he can get away with it or not face repercussions from it, Simmons will say he is having an "I'm Keith Hernandez Moment". The reference comes from the famous Seinfeld episode where Keith Hernandez, on a date with Elaine, tries to convince himself to kiss Elaine by reciting (in his head), "Wait a second - I'm Keith Hernandez!" The most commonly used example of an athlete in an "I'm Keith Hernandez" Moment is Reggie Bush's ill-advised lateral against Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl.


You see, June Jones walked onto the Hilltop and looked at the QB situation and decided he didn't like what he saw. He had a pretty good QB in Justin Willis whose strengths were not suited to June Jones' offense. Sure, he could make do with what he had and implement his offense over time, but, hey, he's June Jones. So he defied all logic and decided that a true freshman could come in, not participate in the Spring, learn a new system and start for SMU. Of course it is going to work. He's June Jones.

Well, of course it isn't working. Bo Levi Mitchell is a true freshman. He didn't participate in Spring Practice. He is learning a new system. The odds of this working were 1 in a 1,000.

Well, it isn't Mitchell's fault. He should not have been put in this position. June Jones should have known better. June Jones probably did know better.

One of the things SMU fans have craved is accountability. They want someone to take responsibility for the 20 years of losing. They want someone to admit the last 20 years have been a series of mistakes. That carries itself to every decision that is ever made about SMU football, from those made on the field to those made in the AD's office. SMU fans never get that satisfaction.

And here is another instance where that admission is not going to be made. Nor should it. There is nothing that can be said or done that is going to change the way the season is going. Sure, Willis or Turner or somebody else could be named the starter tomorrow, but what will that accomplish? We will be int he same spot next season. Let Mitchell play; let him figure it out. If he does, then all the better. If he doesn't, it is an open competition in the Spring. Fine. And let's be honest, we all recognize this team wasn't going to be very good no matter who was the QB: the defense is terrible and the best player at his position is the kicker. If the offense worked perfectly, maybe, just maybe, the team could win enough shootouts to eek into bowl eligibility. But that, I think we can see, was not and is not going to happen.

Somebody on ponyfans wondered why other schools can bring in a new coach and turn things around immediately and SMU can't seem to do it. I will give you three reasons. First, and most importantly, past academic restrictions really hurt the overall talent level of the team. Hopefully those issues have been resolved. The hiring of June Jones suggests it has as he wouldn't come if he had to deal with the BS his predecessors have. Second, SMU has kept coaches around too long. Five years is enough and in some cases, too long. After Bennett's winless season, recruiting took a nosedive and enthusiasm dropped off dramatically. Any objective observer would have told you the football team was going to struggle (especially the defense) after Bennett's 6-6 season and the graduation of probably the three best defensive linemen SMU has had in 20 years. Third, Cavan and Bennett were idiots.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Yeah

Yeah, I quit writing this thing. I have too much going on right now to blog full-time or even semi-full time. However, I can't let yesterday's TCU-SMU game go by without comment. I went to that game and saw a sorry excuse for a football team get out hustled, outworked, out game planned, out coached and outclassed.

I have been generally supportive of Bo Levi Mitchell over Justin Willis or anybody else. I questioned fro Day 1 whether Willis could fit in as QB in Jones's system. Last night was a deal breaker for me. The interception of a shuffle pass by a defensive tackle was too much to take. You can't tell me Justin Willis can't do everything Coach Jones wanted BLM to do in the TCU game.

Note to Coach Jones: If you don't trust BLM to throw the ball 10 yards down the field, then you don't trust him to run your system. If you don't trust BLM to run your system, then get somebody who can or get somebody who can run whatever watered down system you are throwing out there now. Two picks thrown to defensive linemen is too much to bear. That was freakin' nonsense.

Another message to Coach Jones: I don't know if you knew this, but you were hired for the express purpose of preventing crap like last night from happening. I wasn't expecting a miracle season this year. I was expecting a team that was well prepared, well coached, with the right mindset, high energy, played hard, with a good game plan and confidence that at the right time during the game, the right decision would be made. I saw none of that, and the fact that it happened against TCU only makes it worse. That really was an embarrassment all the way around.

Monday, January 07, 2008

By now you all have heard the news… Coach Watch Day 72.

That is right. It is true. General Joe’s Chopstix on Mockingbird is shutting down for good. General Joe’s chicken was a staple of mine on Sundays throughout the early 1990’s. In its place will be the finest coloring book collection this nation has ever seen.

Oh, and SMU hired a football coach!!!



The story broke in the weirdest of ways. The Honolulu Advertiser had an article that said Jones stopped taking calls late last night, which was linked to on the ponyfans message board. Then, all of a sudden, at around 10AM, the article changed to “Jones takes coaching job at SMU.” I called Brad Sutton, SID at SMU and he didn’t know what I was talking about. He looked at the website himself and said he would go find out. Turns out Jones’ assistants that were asked to come to SMU spilled the beans. And the rest is history.

One must say that in the last twenty years of SMU football, this day is pretty high on the list.

Press conference video

Press conference summary

Press conference quotes

Ticket interview summary

The press conference was packed with SMU fans. Easily ten time the people that were at the Matt Doherty press conference. They even had an overflow room. And they needed it. There was a lot of excitement in the room. It was nice to feel optimism among the SMU crowd. I can’t think of the last time I felt that kind of optimism. Certainly not in the last twelve months. Turner and Orsini were positively giddy. OK. That isn’t fair. We all were.

Anyway, this is my first impression of Jones. Jones has complete confidence in his abilities, his system, his assistants. Far more so that Bennett ever showed in his first press conference. You get the sense that June Jones is here to turn this thing around and there is absolutely zero possibility that he will fail.

I still maintain that at some point over the last 72 days, the search was not going well. It would be interesting to know exactly who was spoken to about this job. Somehow, I doubt we ever know. I said all along that just because the search may not be going well, it doesn’t mean that SMU won’t get a great coach. In the end, I should have stuck to my first comments about the search. At the end of the day, with everyone wondering who will take this awful, awful job, just like the athletic director search and the basketball coaching search, the answer will be someone better than any one of us have a right to expect.

Weirdest person in attendance: Channel 8 film critic Gary Cogill. Cogill apparently grew up with June Jones. Who knew?

One does feel for Hawaii under the circumstances. They don’t want our pity; they want somebody’s head on a stick. And it appears that Hawaii athletics director Herman Frazier will soon have his head lopped off.And with good reason. Jones is at SMU because this guy apparently doesn’t know how run an athletic department and Steve Orsini does. Think about that. One of the most inept programs over the last twenty years stole the master of one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history from his alma mater.

University of Hawaii President went so far as to apologize:

Finally, I also want to apologize to our fans and all of Hawaii for matters getting to this stage in the first place. Exceptional performance deserves exceptional recognition, and your University was slow to step up.


Dude. Obviously, this was important to Hawaii. The Governor got involved. I kind of feel bad. Maybe SMU should offer Herman Frazier a job or something. We owe him a lot.

Questions we all have:

1) Staff. Jones extended invitations to all of his staff to join him at SMU. It is unclear how many will take those offers. At least three have already accepted: DC Greg McMackin, QB Coach Dan Morrison and running backs coach Wes Suan. There is some talk that linebackers coach Cal Lee will be named as head coach of Hawaii (he was one of five coaches suggested to Hawaii by Jones). At some level, one would want Texas people to have some of the jobs and Jones said as much.

Ramon Flanigan was at the press conference. He has been an offensive coordinator before. He was a running QB in a run and shoot offense. I wonder if there is a place for him on this staff. Certainly could do worse.

2) Recruiting. It appears that Defensive Coordinator Greg McMackin is in town and will stay for the time being. Greg McMackin was former Big XII recruiter of the year of Texas Tech before going to the 49'ers and then to Hawaii. There was a report that a Hawaii radio station spoke with one Hawaii recruit who stated that he intended to go where June Jones went. At least four of Jones current Hawaii commitments are from Texas. Presumably, the first priority is to shore up current SMU commitments and then Hawaii commitments, then former SMU commitments, and finally non-committed players.

2A) Recruiting standards. I handed off my question to Kate; we will see if she asks Coach Jones about his 2003 comments on the SMU job. In the Dallas Morning News on November 13, 2003; June Jones said the following regarding Phil Bennett:

"I think Phil is on an island sometimes," Jones said. "He's going through some unfair requirements over there. He's not on the same playing field as the rest of us."


At the press conference Jones, Turner and Orsini said standards were nationally competitive. I have said for a while, I think standards are being used in part as an excuse. We will see. Let's start with the kid that already wants to switch his commitment.

3)Money. I don't know who is in the "Circle of Champions," but I bet they have good seats. Widely reported that it is 20 boosters that have committed $100,000.00 per year over the next five years. That is a big commitment and seems to be the focus of most of the media to this point-SMU got Jones because it threw a lot of money at him. Some SMU fans are taking umbrage at that. Why? SMU is a small school with a rocky past. You use your resources in the best way possible. That was done here. Never apologize.

4)Spring Game. Dude. Give it a rest. The Spring Game will probably be near the end of March and you should plan on attending. It should preview what I have to assume will be a record-setting year for SMU passing statistics. Barring injury, doesn't Willis have to set the single-season SMU passing record?

You, too, will be asked to "pony up." Walking out, I was handed a flier on season tickets for next year. You will get a discount with a Mustang Club contribution. (Typical SMU mind of mine immediately started thinking of the tax consequences of that benefit.) Probably a smart way of getting the rolls up and then they will hit us all up for larger contributions in later years. I am trying to find fault with this plan, but it seems pretty savvy at first look.

Finally, I don't know if Steve Orsini thinks I owe him an apology or not. Actually, I should not flatter myself to think he cares. I don't personally think I owe him one for anything I have said in this blog. But I do owe Steve Orsini an apology for losing faith somewhere between Day 1 and Day 72. Steve Orsini got SMU a great coach. This is Steve-O's day. So here is to you, Steve. Soak it up. I am sure we will find something to complain about soon.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Someone else can make it official, but I think it is a done deal.

Be very wary of AP news stories like this one. AP doesn't have its own reporters. This one is written by a Hawaii reporter. Just as likely that the Dallas Morning News story could get picked up next. Pay attention to the Dallas Morning News. Pay some attention to the Hawaii papers.

Jones was in Dallas meeting with SMU officials and the search committee that has been working since late October to hire a replacement to Phil Bennett. Meanwhile, the folks on the island were doing all they could to get him to say no and continue leading a program he has guided to national prominence.


I will say this, if the above linked article is accurate and Jones met with the search committee, it is all but over. SMU wins; Hawaii loses. Orsini would not have let Jones meet with the search committee unless it was a done deal.

I was told Friday, by one guy that June Jones was a 99% done deal.

I was told by another guy Friday that it looked promising.

I never posted anything, because I was waiting to hear from a specific person, who has still not contacted me yet.

On Saturday, I spoke with someone not associated with SMU but works in college athletics and knows quite a bit about coaches and coaching searches. He said, "You get June Jones on a plane and he is yours. The challenge should be getting him on the plane. I would have somebody escort him if I were you."

So today is Sunday and I know no more than you. I can say with 99% certainty that the first official word will be here.The other one percent: here. I have no desire to screw this up and be wrong and doubt I am going to hear anything before you.

Just my thoughts.