Jones endorses McMackin
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KAILUA-KONA » June Jones wants to take his defensive coordinator with him to Southern Methodist, but he also endorses him as his replacement as Hawaii head coach.
"Right now I don't want to lose Greg McMackin. (But) the thought that he has a possibility to be (head coach) here, I want that for the school," Jones said yesterday. "I think that is the best chance to keep the continuity of things that the school has built, to have that."
Jones spoke at the Hokulia Resort on the Kona Coast of the Big Island. It was his farewell news conference before heading to SMU after accepting the head coach job there last Monday.
McMackin is among more than 30 applicants to succeed Jones after nine seasons in which he became the winningest football coach in school history. A new coach could be named later this week.
McMackin is widely viewed as the leading candidate.
New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride -- a friend and former colleague of Jones' in the NFL -- is interested in the job, Jones said. Gilbride is also the brother-in-law of former UH offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh.
But with the Giants advancing to this week's NFC championship game, Gilbride might not have time to interview for a position UH hopes to fill quickly.
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KAILUA-KONA » The Sugar Bowl was not quite the sweet ending to Hawaii's dream season the Warriors and their fans hoped for on New Year's Day. Georgia dealt UH its first loss of the season, 41-10.
The lopsided outcome left some observers thinking the Warriors were badly overmatched. Others said the Bulldogs used the month after the end of the regular season to prepare better than Hawaii did.
With time to look back on it, what does June Jones think went wrong in his last game as UH coach? Yesterday, at his first news conference in Hawaii since the game, he bristled at the idea that his team wasn't prepared.
"I don't know what you mean," Jones said on the Big Island, on the eve of leaving for SMU, where he will be the new head coach. "But certainly we didn't do what we needed to do once the game started to get it done. I think defensively we played very well after the first quarter. (On offense) we just weren't ourselves."
Jones also said he doesn't believe his team got caught up in the hype of its first appearance in a BCS bowl game.
"No. I think they (Georgia) were a pretty good team, and we didn't execute," Jones said. "The O-line players I think were a little bit intimidated, initially, then they got going OK. We just weren't ourselves the first 15 minutes of the game."
Many around the nation will remember the last they saw of UH football, the Sugar Bowl loss. But Jones -- when he finally has a chance to do so -- will savor the 12-0 regular season that led up to it.
"It was an unbelievable season. Players and coaches all did a fantastic job," Jones said. "When I went to New Orleans and saw how many people there were, 15,000, 16,000 from Hawaii and another 10,000 from around the country to take pride in what we did, that was a taste of what football here can do for the school. I think people should never forget that."
Although he is leaving UH for a new opportunity at SMU, Jones said he will continue to try to do what he can for the Warriors. That includes endorsing Greg McMackin to replace him, even though Jones had assumed McMackin would join him in Dallas.
"We talked, talked to him again today, and met with him. I want what's best for Hawaii," Jones said. "I'll survive and find another coach if he does not come that will allow us to win and do what we need to do at SMU. I have great confidence in that."
Jones said he will hold the Mustangs defensive coordinator position open for McMackin should he not get the UH job, but he can only do so for a few days.
"I told Greg I had to make some decisions," Jones said. "So he's going to have to make a judgment call on if he thinks he's going to get it or not."
At least three of Jones' UH assistants are joining his SMU staff. Dennis McKnight (offensive line, special teams), Dan Morrison (quarterbacks) and Wes Suan (running backs) were scheduled to leave for Dallas yesterday.
Defensive line coach Jeff Reinebold is another possibility to join the Mustangs, but he was still weighing things yesterday. Strength coach Mel deLaura will likely remain in Hawaii due to family considerations.