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.