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Jones struts his stuff at old stomping ground


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POSTED: Friday, December 25, 2009

It must have been like seeing your ex — the one you were with nine sometimes-rocky but thrilling years — out on the town (your town, by the way), enjoying a great time with your replacement.

This is how you operate the run-and-shoot. Rolling up 534 yards, scoring at will.

And how about that big defense from Big D? I don't remember that part of it — and against a team that had scored 50 or more points in five games?

It was beautiful. But could you bear to watch it, University of Hawaii football fans?

You can't blame the SMU fans for being all giddy about their new beau. After that 45-10 thrashing of Nevada in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl yesterday — with a bunch of freshmen and sophomores — it's watch out Conference USA.

June Jones' latest reclamation project is off and running, with SMU winning its first bowl game in 25 years. You may recall the last one, when the Mustangs beat Notre Dame in the Aloha Bowl — back when those two academic institutions were both known for outstanding football, too.

A couple of years later, and it was the death penalty for NCAA violations. Consider the resurrection of SMU complete.

I thought about voting for Herman Frazier as SMU's MVP yesterday; one school of thought is the former UH athletic director's procrastination in contract negotiations sent Jones packing two years ago. Then I remembered it's not all on Frazier. The real problems at UH were systemic, and Jones seriously considered leaving at least twice before the Mustangs came calling.

Usually when there's a turnover, guys jump around celebrating. When Nevada recovered a fumble early in the third quarter, there was very little, and the offense seemed as excited about getting back onto the field as for another serving of poi.

Review of the play gave the ball back to SMU. But you get the point: Nevada was deflated and lifeless, even after what seemed a big play.

It was clear throughout which team came ready to play. Maybe you were among the many who thought Nevada would turn the Ponies into so much horse meat. Then seemingly every day leading up to the game guys started dropping from the Wolf Pack, an academic casualty here, a shoplifting arrest there.

That stuff adds up.

Meanwhile, SMU stayed on course. Jones and his staff know how to manage a football team in Waikiki.

“;I sensed we had really good focus while we were here,”; he said. “;We had fun, but when we went to practice, it was focused. And that was a real factor.”;

Kyle Padron is just a freshman, so you know what that means ... he could eventually have Timmy Chang's passing-yardage record in his sights. But as good as he was yesterday — and he was tremendous, with 460 yards passing, two touchdowns and no interceptions — Padron could end up fighting for his job at some point. Jones still gathers quarterbacks the way kids collect baseball cards, and word is he's got a great one coming in.

As he often did while at Hawaii, Jones talked about how performing well at the Hawaii Bowl is a big plus for an emerging team.

“;Every football player, high school, college and pro, is watching that game. You can't buy that kind of marketing for your program.”;

It was like 1999, 2006 and 2007.

It's the same thing, but it's happening somewhere else now; he's not yours anymore. The run-and-shoot at full efficiency ... this time, with the bonus of a stifling defense.

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Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.