Full-Court Press

By Paul Arnett

Friday, August 20, 1999

Former coach says
Jones is here to stay

IT'S not that Mouse Davis doesn't think June Jones was a good quarterback. He lists him among the top five he ever coached.

But a golf shot on Davis Love III's home Sea Island, Ga., course is the story the father of the run-and-shoot enjoys telling the most about Jones.

"It's a dog-leg left that requires you to hit a shot down the middle of the fairway, then hit your approach shot to the green," said Davis, who is in town to speak at tomorrow's Na Koa Club banquet.

"June takes a look at it and figures he can carry the green by cutting across the dog leg on his drive. Well, he sets up, takes that big swing of his - I remember him telling me he could hear the wind rustling at his back - and wham, he carries the green. It's a 350-yard shot, easy."

Davis was so impressed with it, he told the golf pro about it back in the shop. He didn't believe him.

"I told him I was there," Davis said. "I saw it happen. It wasn't long before he told another golf pro in the area about it. Nobody else had done it."

Well, no one accept Love. At least, that's what Jones said.

"That's right, Coach Davis was there," Jones said. "It was a good drive, but the wind was at my back."

THESE days, the wind is still at Jones' back. Granted, the Rainbows aren't the Atlanta Falcons, who Davis coached with Jones in 1996, but Davis believes this is a 20-year marriage in the making.

"This is a perfect match," Davis said. "He has always wanted to come back here. Always. I've only been here one day, but I can tell how much goodwill June has created.

"Give him some time and he will build a winning program here. He has a good young staff who can relate to the players. And that's very important."

Jones also employs an offense that Davis designed at a Portland, Ore., high school in 1963. His first quarterback teaches poetry in college.

"My best quarterback was Jim Kelly," Davis said. "I remember the Buffalo Bills offered him $300,000 and we (the Houston Gamblers of the old USFL) gave him $1 million. When he went back to Buffalo, they offered him a little more than that. Raising salaries is one thing the USFL did."

It also gave Davis a platform to show that his high-powered offense could work at any level. He was recently at a golf benefit put on by Neil Lomax where many players and coaches told him most NFL teams use some variation of his attack.

"June runs his own version of this offense, not mine," Davis said. "He has done a great job of designing his own plays. It's a good offense."

MANY would say that it and the West Coast offense have had more influence in the NFL than any others. And even some West Coast followers have gone from two backs to one.

"Now, Bill Walsh always had two backs in San Francisco," Davis said. "But there are variations of the run-and-shoot, and the West Coast. You could even see some combinations of the two."

What do you need to be successful in the run-and-shoot? Well, that's an easy one, according to Davis.

"You've got to have a strong-armed quarterback who can get the ball in there," Davis said. "And you've got to have a big, old running back who is a stallion."

Davis watched the final phase of last night's practice from the comfort of an exercise bike seat. He didn't offer any advice to Jones as the UH head coach left the field. That would come later at home.

"It's fun watching June coach this offense," Davis said. "I'm happy for him because looking at him now, I know this is where he wanted to end up."

Paul Arnett has been covering sports
for the Star-Bulletin since 1990.

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