Thursday, January 03, 2008
Coach Watch Day 67: First and last.
After winning the Fiesta Bowl, Bill Stewart will be named head coach of West Virginia. That means that SMU, the first school to announce it was making a change will be the last school to actually hire a coach.
Read this to see how tense things are getting over at mustangmaniacs.com: http://smu.rivals.com/showmsg.asp?fid=2350&tid=109269702&mid=109269702&sid=1174&style=2
I still maintain that the SMU coaching search is going badly. I also still maintain that SMU can still get a great coach. However, I will neither blindly proclaim the next head coach to be a great coach nor whitewash the process if SMU does get a quality coach. But until told otherwise, like everyone else, I will keep my eyes on the Sandwich Islands and the head coach of the University of Hawaii June Jones.
When I read things like yesterday’s New York Times [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/03/sports/ncaafootball/03colleges.html?_r=1&ref=sports&oref=slogin] and the inability for June Jones and Hawaii to get basic football needs filled, I start to wonder if Hawaii even has the ability to keep him.
The major lingering issue for Jones’s future at Hawaii is not his salary, which is $800,000 a year and could be expected to increase. It is whether Hawaii, now that it has begun to benefit from playing big-time football, will commit to investing heavily in the program. The program’s football budget — $2.2 million — is more than $1 million less than that of its chief Western Athletic Conference rival, Boise State.
The Hawaii football facilities were described as “condemned” by quarterback Colt Brennan, who had to campaign through the news media to get soap in the locker room earlier this season. The Hawaii team videotaped practice for four years from a hand-held camera that Jones won at a golf tournament.
It isn’t that Hawaii isn’t capable of matching or coming close to matching any SMU offer (they may not be able to, but they may not have to). It is that aside from the salary, it is the refusal to run Hawaii football like a top 25 program, whereas Steve Orsini wants SMU to be “top 25 in everything [it] does.” Hawaii is capable of providing video equipment for the locker room, soap for the shower, a recruiting budget over $50,000.00, but they have achieved their success without it and the administration may not believe they have to. To give June Jones the salary he deserves and the budget his program deserves, may be more than Hawaii thinks it has to do to be successful and Hawaii may ultimately balk at the price tag. They may need to lose June Jones and lose a lot of football games before they think otherwise.
Another excellent article can be found in the Honolulu Advertiser [http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080103/NEWS01/801030366/1001/NEWS01].
It confirms that today, June Jones is in Hawaii. It also provides this money quote:
"In my opinion, and this is speaking out of turn, but June, to me, has to do what's best for June," UH offensive line coach Dennis McKnight said. "He has given so much. He basically saved a program that was floundering in the water, that was on life support in the life raft. He brought it to the summit of national prominence. It's a name. It's a logo. It's a school that people recognize.
"I know the way he's thinking and feeling and agonizing over this decision right now, that this is where his heart is. But at the same time, from a business standpoint, when you're talking money and a challenge, sometimes a competitor loves a challenge. I know it's going to be a tough deal, and a tough decision."
Listening to the radio this morning, it was the first thing discussed on the Ticket at 6AM. They seem relatively astounded that SMU could land June Jones. Stewart Mandell at CNNSI.com understands what SMU sees in Jones but not what Jones would see in SMU. The same can be said of basically every national college football sports writer in the country. The people on the message board or around Dallas that would not be thrilled with a June Jones hire should be beaten with a stick.
Maybe June Jones is serious about SMU, but maybe he is just using SMU to get all of the Sugar Bowl payout money devoted to football. I don’t know. Today I will be positive. I ran this morning with my iPod on “shuffle.” “Peruna” was the first song it played. It is a sign. As I was coming home, “Pony Battle Cry.” It is a sign. Good things are going to happen today.