Feature Story on JJ’s career at UH

HA Note: “For a football coach, the worst view is from the front row. The sideline offers no depth. No dimension. No perspective. It would be like watching the “Lion King” from the wings. But even from that angle, June Jones can see it all. The strong safety eyeing the right slotback. The rush end lightly touching the FieldTurf, an indication he is ready to drop back into coverage. The linebacker who is just a step too far inside, enough to give cushion to routes into the flats.”

About JJ’s ability to see everything on the field from the sideline, Portland State head coach Jerry Glanville said:
“June has that special vision. He sees everything — things a regular coach might not see until the fourth time he looks at a video of a play. You can’t develop that type of vision. You can only get it from your mom and dad. They can’t will it to you. They can only give it to you at birth.” (HA)

HA Note: “It was that vision that enabled Jones to turn down a National Football League paycheck to resurrect a Hawai’i football program that had lost 18 games in a row; to repel the critics and politics to enact a widespread makeover of a team and school; and, finally, to decide it was time to walk away from paradise.”

About his close friend JJ, Artie Wilson said:
“He’s a really smart guy, a visionary. We’ve been friends for over 40 years. He’s as close to me as a brother can be, and since I didn’t have a brother, he became my brother. Everything he did here, he did because he loved Hawai’i and he loved the University of Hawai’i. He did it to benefit others. People might not have liked what he did. They still might not like it. But in time, everyone is going to appreciate what June tried to do.” (HA)

Comparing JJ’s 9 years to a storybook script, John Fink (President and General Manager of KHNL-8 and K5) said:
“But nobody would believe it. It would be too surreal to happen.” (HA)

HA Note: “The five-member search committee considered it a successful trip just to secure a meeting with Jones, the interim head coach of the San Diego Chargers. The committee already had interviewed four finalists for the job vacated when Fred vonAppen was fired after an 0-12 regular season in 2008. Jones, it was reported, was offered a four-year, multi-million contract to become the Chargers’ head coach. The best UH would be able to offer was $320,000 annually.”

Before JJ met with the UH search committee, Junior Seau tried to convince him to stay with the Chargers by saying to JJ:
“Coach, you’re not going to leave us, are you?” (HA)

Search committee member John Fink heard Seau’s plea and thought:
“Oh, great. Guys from Hawai’i are going to have to beat out Junior Seau.” (HA)

HA Note: “And then they talked, and it wasn’t what the committee expected. Jones, who was a UH quarterback for two seasons before transferring to Portland State, spoke of his love of the Islands and his vision of transforming the Rainbow Warriors into a top-25 team.”

About how even after JJ talked about his vision for UH he thought they didn’t have a chance to get JJ away from the Chargers, Fink said:
“He really opened up. But I didn’t think we had much of a chance. He had an offer to be an NFL coach. He would have made more money. To compound it, the Hawai’i team was an absolute debacle. Even if he could turn it around, it would have been years, and the excited fans would have been disappointed.” (HA)

HA Note: “What the committee discovered was that Jones loves a challenge. On a chilly San Diego night, UH beat out Junior Seau.”

About how he wanted to create a program that consistently won, JJ said:
“I wanted to create a tradition of winning. I think the university had some successful football coaches. Some won, some didn’t. I wanted a program of consistent winning.” (HA)

HA Note: “He hired Greg McMackin, who would implement an attacking defense. Jones then instituted a pro-style mentality. He encouraged players to talk to the media.”

About how he wanted his players to talk with the media, JJ said:
“I wanted them to be accountable.” (HA)

HA Note: “He moved practices to the morning, with a two-fold purpose: the players could focus on school the rest of the day, and it became a deterrent to staying out late at night. Jones inherited a team that was divided by race and birthplace. The theme of his first speech to his players was the same as the last: A team lives or dies from within. Jones preached unity. He cut players — and staff — who were deemed not to embrace the policy. One disgruntled player drove “doughnut” marks on the practice field. Unruffled, Jones felt, that action only justified his decision. He created team bonding activities, such as diving off the 10-meter board at the Duke Kahanamoku Pool. Jones was one of the first to jump. He also empowered the seniors to decide on everything from pre-game movies to post-season banquet swag.”

HA Note: “And he installed his four-wide offense, which was rooted in his mentor Mouse Davis’ run-and-shoot offense, with influences from Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense. The players were taught by rote. The quarterbacks threw hundreds of passes a day; the receivers ran scores of routes. UH went 9-5 that year, winning the O’ahu Bowl and setting a record for the greatest turnaround in NCAA history.”

HA Note: “Each year, Jones changes the offense by about 25 percent. But his alterations were not limited to the playbook. He brought in George Toma, a celebrated NFL groundskeeper, to install a grass practice field. He appointed assistant coach Rich Miano as the coordinator of the walk-on program. One of the first to benefit was running back James Fenderson, who lived in his car for most of the 1999 season. Fenderson, who was awarded a scholarship, eventually played in the NFL.”

About why he encouraged Athletic Director Hugh Yoshida to change their nickname from the Rainbow Warriors to the Warriors, JJ said:
“If you’re not doing good, you have to rebrand. That’s what we did. We wanted to change the name, the colors … because we weren’t selling any logos. When we changed the logo, we did it the right way. Hugh, all of us, we were on the same page.” (HA)

About creating the “H” logo for their teams, JJ said:
“We sold more (‘H’) logo gear in the first month than we did in the previous year (of the old logo). Now the ‘H’ logo is one of the more recognizable logos in the whole country.” (HA)

HA Note: “Jones survived a gruesome one-car crash in February 2001. He endured the long fight to install FieldTurf at Aloha Stadium. But he admittedly had difficulty trying to maintain the “energy” following the 2004 season. That changed when he hired Glanville in the spring of 2005.”

About JJ hiring him in 2005, Glanville said:
“He’s my best friend in the whole United States. OK, he’s my only friend.” (HA)

About how he got his energy back when Glanville was hired, JJ said:
“When Jerry came back, it picked me up, it got me back.” (HA)

About his bond with JJ, Glanville said:
“We understand each other. If I see a (football) play on TV, I can call him, and he’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. You can explain it one time, and he’ll see it in his mind, and he’ll tell you why it works and why it won’t. That goes back to the vision he has.” (HA)

About giving second chances to Colt Brennan and Davone Bess, JJ said:
“When I met them, my gut feeling was they were good kids. I trusted my gut.” (HA)

HA Note: “The Warriors went 5-7 in 2005, but that set the way for the next two historic seasons. The Warriors had records of 11-3 in 2006 and 12-1 in 2007. During one stretch, they won 20 of 21 games. Their 12-0 regular season in 2007 earned them a berth in the Sugar Bowl.”

About their 20-1 stretch during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, JJ said:
“That stretch … I’m not sure how many teams have done that. But I don’t think about the wins. I’m about the journey. That’s what I teach the players. It’s not about wins. It’s about putting together things you have to do to win. It’s about the chemistry, the camaraderie. That’s what I believe it takes. That’s what you enjoy the most.” (HA)

HA Note: “But after the Sugar Bowl, Jones knew his UH journey needed to end. An overall limited budget kept the recruiting budget from expanding. The office carpets were old and stained. A year earlier, UH drew national attention when Brennan revealed the showers lacked soap. Jones resigned as UH head coach in January 2008, and accepted the head coaching job at Southern Methodist.”

About leaving UH after the Sugar Bowl, JJ said:
“It was time to go. My gut feeling was I didn’t think the university would pull the trigger on the things that needed to change, to keep going, unless I left. I think it’s great the university has FieldTurf now and they’ve accomplished a lot of things. I’m not convinced those things would have happened if I stayed. My leaving brought attention, just like when we got a grass field when vonAppen left. They have more recruiting money. They have new offices. I was there nine years and nothing ever changed. I wasn’t convinced those things would have happened.” (HA)

HA Note: “SMU is Jones’ latest rebuilding project. He’s changed the helmet logo, bringing back the one from the 1980s, and he’s teaching the four-wide offense.”

About his swimming pool in Dallas, JJ said:
“There was a big turtle in there. I don’t know how it got in there.” (HA)

HA Note: “He still owns property on O’ahu and the Big Island. He still does not wear socks, and “I still have Aloha Fridays. I wear aloha shirts on Fridays.” ”

About living in Dallas now, JJ said:
“Dallas is my home right now. It’s a great city, and I’m attached to the people. Hawai’i will always be my home. Hawai’i is the most common ground I’ve had in 35 years. I’ve spent more time there (as an adult) than anywhere else. That will always be my home.” (HA)



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