STAR-BULLETIN / 2006
June Jones came close to leaving Hawaii in 2004 after a fight broke out following a game against Houston. But hiring close friend Jerry Glanville in 2005 as an assistant revitalized him.
Jones close to leaving Hawaii before
DALLAS » June Jones' move to SMU in January wasn't the first time Hawaii came so very close to losing the most successful coach in school history.
Jones sat in his office last week and talked of two times that he nearly parted ways with the Warriors program. Once was in late 2004, after he felt persecuted over a brawl following the 2003 Hawaii Bowl game against Houston, and then endured an up-and-down 2004 season; Jones went as far as to write a letter of resignation. Then, he considered leaving again after the 2006 season, as he tied his fate to that of standout quarterback Colt Brennan, who was considering a jump to the NFL.
Jones said he was "frustrated" when he wrote a letter of resignation in the tumultuous aftermath of the 54-48 triple-overtime victory over Houston on Dec. 25, 2003, which culminated in a brawl. Coming on the heels of two other post-game fights in a three-year period involving the Warriors during Jones' tenure, the 10-minute nationally televised brawl created a miniature firestorm of criticism of Jones and his program.
"My kids were innocent in that thing and I was being accused of all kinds of stuff," Jones said last week in Dallas. "It was frustrating to me that people were unappreciative of what we did, and all they could talk about is the fight.
The ensuing 2004 season was erratic and controversial. The Warriors started 4-5 as Tim Chang broke NCAA career records for passing yards ... and interceptions. Hawaii rallied to win its last four, including victories against Big Ten teams Michigan State and Northwestern and a wild 59-40 decision over Alabama-Birmingham in the Hawaii Bowl.
"I remember when I wrote it I was very upset about something that had happened. I wrote the letter and then said, 'You know, I'll wait 30 days.' In mid-January (2005) I heard Jerry (Glanville) was trying to get back into coaching. I hired him and I forgot about the letter."
Although the Warriors went 5-7 in 2005 -- one of just two losing seasons in his nine years at Hawaii -- Jones said coaching was fun again, with Glanville at his side and Brennan as an apt pupil.
Glanville was the Warriors' defensive coordinator for two seasons before leaving to become head coach at Portland State in February 2007.
"When I was cleaning out my computer after I took the SMU job I found (the letter) and read it," Jones said. "It was kind of unreal."
Jones' second near-departure came after the 2006 season, when Brennan, UH's record-setting junior quarterback, considered a jump to the NFL. Jones said he looked into NFL jobs, and spoke briefly with the Chargers, where he had previously coached, about the opening after Marty Schottenheimer was dismissed in early January 2007.
Brennan, meanwhile, had until Jan. 17 to decide if he would enter the NFL Draft or return for his senior season.
Recalled Jones, "I said 'Colt, I'll be honest with you. You have a decision you have to make. I'll tell you what I think, where you get drafted. You have to make that decision.
"Obviously, I'll be part of this decision. You can't tell anybody, can't share this with anybody, but if I get one of these pro jobs, I'll go. But I'll do this for you. If your decision is to come back and I have not left by Jan. 17, then if I get one of those jobs after Jan. 17, I'll turn it down.'
"I kept my word."
Jones said he stopped pursuing positions after speaking with Brennan and never received a job offer.
Still, he said he's not ruling out a return to the NFL one day.
"I think the opportunity with the pros will come again," he said.