Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Mouse gives Jones someone
to look up to

THE coolest thing about Mouse Davis isn't that when some PR staffer once asked him what his college major was, Mouse's answer was "nuclear physics" (or even that the poor kid went for it, or even that it's been there, winking at the world from Mouse's bio, ever since).

It's not that he had a 42-24 record at Portland State, using a crazy wide-open passing system, cranking out eye-popping numbers, turning a funny-mustached two-time transfer into an NFL quarterback. Or that he's coached in three major pro leagues, been everywhere, done everything.

Nor that while he's not technically the father of the run-and-shoot, he is unquestionably its godfather (and don't ever take sides against the family).

Or that, at age 71, he still packs a punch.

Or even that, with his funny, wisecracking, fun-loving, "character" of a persona, he can kind of remind you of that assistant coach from "Coach."

OK, that last one is close. But, no, the coolest thing about Mouse Davis, if you are a Hawaii fan scoring at home, is this:

"June's ... family," Mouse says.

There. That says it all.

Mouse Davis was June Jones' coach. And now the man whose football opinion matters perhaps most to Jones in the world is right here on staff.

And that is so huge for UH.

Mouse can talk to Jones about things no one else can. He can offer advice that carries weight no one else's does.

It is Mouse who brings the point up first, modestly, offhandedly, just referencing their shared history, but this is what I have been thinking all along.

Of course, in the next breath, Mouse reconsiders. He's been in the business a long, long time and he knows how to be an assistant coach.

"Or, I don't know," he says, laughing, maybe Jones wouldn't listen to him.

"Obviously, I'm going to support June," he says.

"It is his program," he says.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Nobody is saying anything different. These two have been in this situation many times before, they both know how it works. This is nothing but a positive thing.

An incredibly positive thing.

His is a second opinion like no other. And don't think Jones won't use it.

It's a special relationship. Their level of respect, trust, love trumps all.

And that makes Mouse Davis the biggest hire, the best thing to happen to UH football since Jones himself signed on in 1998.

This would be the icing, the final piece.

This could put UH over the top.

Jones has done a great job in his tenure -- the program is back from oblivion, obviously, and his winning record speaks for itself.

But we all know he's had his blind spots and his stubborn streaks. (I love the story he told on the "Leahey and Leahey" radio show, that the reason he has a mustache today is that as a player one of his coaches had a facial hair ban -- and so Jones has grown it ever since.)

He puts so much on himself -- which is exactly how he likes it, gambling that he's always right.

Jones is a good coach, but that might be his biggest weakness -- that everything is all on him, and he'd better be right, and in his mind he always is.

Now, here's a guy he trusts to turn to, who knows what he knows, who has been where he's been.

A second opinion like no other.

It's such a small thing, but it's huge.

Mouse is the one guy in the world who can wade into the trees and show Jones a forest, when he can't see the forest for the trees. One guy he'll listen to, even when his mind is already made up.

That's not to say he doesn't respect the other assistants, but this is different.

This is Mouse Davis.

And that makes Jones an even better coach.

Watch out, world. Watch out, WAC.

This will work because they know how to make it work, because they've done it so many times before. Because there is trust and respect and love.

Mouse has been a head coach and he's been an assistant coach and he's been a father figure and a friend.

"He's good for June," another former Mouse player, UH assistant strength coach Mel deLaura, told Dave Reardon earlier this month. "And June's good for him."

And that's good for everybody.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com



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