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Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, September 9, 2000

U H _ F O O T B A L L

UH Football

Portland State
goes up against
favorite son

UH coach June Jones was
Vikings' record-setting QB and
their first All-American

By Paul Arnett

June Jones has always been something of a rambling man. Grass doesn't grow easily under this man's feet. For him, it's get your motor running and head out on the highway to Steppenwolf's beat.

He played football for three different colleges and did tours of duty in the National and Canadian leagues before trading in a football for a clipboard. Over the next 17 years, Jones went from town to town and place to place like a DJ doing AM rock.


Bullet Who: Portland State vs. Hawaii.
Bullet When: Today, kickoff 6:05 p.m. Gates open, 3:30 p.m.
Bullet Where: Aloha Stadium.
Bullet RealAudio: 'Net broadcast Click Here

From Honolulu, to Denver, to Houston, to Ottawa, back to Houston, then on to Detroit, Atlanta and San Diego, Jones knew all the pilots and flight attendants on every major airline in the continental United States.

But no matter how far he roamed, at times on the back of a Harley hog, there were two places that held tight to his heart -- Oregon and Hawaii. One saved his playing days, the other started his coaching career.

An episode of "Seinfeld" once dealt with worlds colliding. George's fiancee, Susan, was part of one world. The other was with Jerry, Elaine and Kramer. Jerry mistakenly told Elaine to invite Susan into their world and trouble followed.

"When these two worlds collide Jerry, George ceases to exist."

Granted, it's unlikely Jones will disappear from view during tonight's nonconference game between Portland State and Hawaii. After all, it was he who extended the invitation for the two schools to meet in the season opener at Aloha Stadium.

But for Jones -- who left Hawaii in 1974 after former head coach Larry Price didn't recognize this rebel with an arm -- seeing Portland State lined up on the field across from him will evoke certain emotions.


Pick up a copy of the Star-Bulletin at the game tonight
and scope out the "H-Men" special insert.


To understand Jones, you must realize that Portland State saved this man destined to be out of football in only a matter of months. Head coach Mouse Davis implored Jones to return home like some prodigal son and when he did, a marriage was born.

Jones stepped into this revolutionary run-and-shoot cockpit and flew the ship as if he were Captain Kirk of the starship Enterprise. He not only saved his days under center, but the Vikings program as well.

He was Portland State's first All-America as he and Davis put Portland State on the map. They went on to start a revolution in the National Football League that's still felt today.

It's true, there are hardly any pure run-and-shoot offenses left, but myriad pages of the playbook can be found on every passing team in America, college and pro.

Even Portland State will have a four-wide look to it in certain situations. Not so much as a tribute to Jones, who started 20 of 21 games for the Vikings in 1975-76, but because it works well with the philosophies of eight-year Portland State head coach Tim Walsh.

"Obviously, we still have great feelings for him and for what he accomplished here at Portland State," Walsh said, who helped guide the program successfully from Division II to Division I-AA the past several seasons.

"Last year, he was the NCAA coach of the year and to be able to say that he is a Portland State alum, well, I'm real proud of that and the opportunity to get to know him. More importantly than those two other things, he's also a great person."

And that's what the people in the Portland area love most about their favorite son. He still does things for the community and his former school. Scheduling this game is an excellent example.

"The only reason we're even playing here is because of June," Walsh said. "He knew it would help in the exposure of our program and that shows his commitment to his school."

Jones has downplayed what he did for Portland State, preferring to point out all the things Portland State did for him.

"When I left Hawaii in 1974, I didn't have much of a future," said Jones, who also played two years at the University of Oregon. "I went back home because Mouse wanted me and I didn't have anywhere else to go."

Davis likes to say that if it hadn't been for Jones, Portland State football would have died and the run-and-shoot might never have been born to greatness.

"What he did for us in Portland you can't really measure," Davis said. "We were about done when June got there. When we started winning, people got excited about football again. He had a huge impact."

And that can still be seen today. Jones' name remains in the record books, despite only two years as the signal-caller. An old jersey hangs in a frame of honor in the coaches' offices, a plaque and a picture of Jones are also there in his honor.

"We're not playing the University of Hawaii Saturday night," Walsh said. "We're playing June Jones University. That's how the people back in Portland see it. And he deserves that credit because he also had an impact on the Portland community, and we appreciate everything he's done for Portland State."

The feeling is mutual, but it will be set aside by kickoff.

"We want to kick their asses," Jones said then smiled. "That's the nature of this business."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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