SUGAR BOWL: GEORGIA VS. HAWAII
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan spoke with coach June Jones during yesterday's Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Brennan completed his eligibility yesterday. Jones' contract expires before next season.
Jones’ decision up next
NEW ORLEANS » What now for June Jones?
He might not be as hot a commodity today as he was before last night's 41-10 loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, but he's still an experienced head coach with a winning record over a relatively long period of time.
The former NFL head man has been linked to several openings -- college and pro -- in the past several weeks.
The winningest coach in UH history (76-41) is at a crossroads. His contract expires before next season, and many believe this year's 12-0 regular-season mark and leading UH to the Western Athletic Conference championship is his crowning achievement -- and the apex of what can be accomplished at Hawaii without better resources.
Jones said last week he expects to remain in Hawaii, but his agent Leigh Steinberg and he would evaluate any possible opportunities.
SMU has an opening and money to work with, and sits in fertile recruiting grounds. Jones has denied interest in the job.
Other speculation -- some not much more than rumors -- have him as a candidate for jobs with the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
"I'll sit down and assess things with June," UH athletic director Herman Frazier said. "I'm not going to talk about that now."
Frazier said he has already started negotiations with Steinberg. Jones' current contract pays $800,016 a year. The UH Board of Regents approved a raise to the base salary of $935,000, which can be increased further with approval, Frazier said.
This was the third time in two seasons (and the first this season) that UH went the first half without a touchdown.
In the 2006 Hawaii Bowl, the Warriors trailed 10-3 at the break, but came back to beat Arizona State 41-24.
Hawaii opened the 2006 season at Alabama, where the Tide led 15-3 at halftime and held on to beat the Warriors 25-17.
Howard named MVP
Defensive end Marcus Howard
was named the most outstanding player of the Sugar Bowl after sacking Brennan three times, including one that resulted in a fumble recovery for a touchdown by the talented senior.
Howard had four tackles for the game and two forced fumbles. The second one of UH quarterback Colt Brennan he recovered in the end zone to give Georgia a 38-3 lead late in the third quarter.
"We were prepared for everything they did," Howard said. "We watched the Fresno State game and saw how they handled them in the second half. We knew we had more team speed than Fresno, so we felt like we could control them."
Howard entered the game with 7.5 sacks as Georgia led the SEC with 34 this season. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound speed rusher also had 37 quarterback hurries, something Brennan can attest to.
"They did a great job of putting pressure on us the whole game," Brennan said. "They came at us hard off the edge. I don't think we've ever seen a pass rush like that one. They kept coming at us the entire game. It definitely disrupted our rhythm."
Stafford plays steady
Sophomore quarterback Matthew Stafford
didn't set any passing records, but he didn't make many mistakes, either. The 6-3 signal-caller completed 14 of 23 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown. He wasn't sacked and had one pass intercepted after it was tipped at the line of scrimmage and landed in the hands of safety Jake Patek
"Coach told us it was important for us to get out on them early and that's exactly what we did," Stafford said. "I thought our game plan was perfect to pound the ball inside. We got them in a couple of blitzes and made them pay for it. This was a big game for us."
Coming into the game, most of the publicity was centered on Brennan, something that didn't bother Stafford prior to the game. Of the two quarterbacks, he was more efficient, if not spectacular.
"We wanted to establish the run and then catch them coming up in the passing game," Stafford said. "I thought we did a good job of staying out of obvious passing downs. This was a statement game for us. We should definitely be in the top five of the polls at the start of next season."
MVPs in the house
Six former Sugar Bowl MVPs were introduced before the game.
LSU's Rohan Davey (2002) drew the biggest applause. The others were Pepper Rodgers (Georgia Tech, 1954), Kenny Stabler (Alabama, 1967), Archie Manning (Ole Miss, 1970), Don McPherson (Syracuse, 1988) and Errict Rhett (Florida, 1994).
Rhett drew loud boos from the Georgia fans.
The Warriors were scheduled to return today at 3:35 p.m. Hawaii time from the Sugar Bowl aboard nonstop flight 1017, a Hawaiian Airlines charter. The flight was slated to leave New Orleans at 11 a.m. Central time (7 a.m. Hawaii time).
The public does not have access to the arrival.
Linebacker and special teams standout Timo Paepule
and safety Patek were team captains, joining season tri-captains Brennan, defensive tackle Mike Lafaele
and offensive lineman Herc Satele