Speculation might be a fun party game, but the reality is June Jones is not — NOT — going to be coaching at UH in the foreseeable future.
First, Jones and Norm Chow are good friends who talk or text each other regularly. After Jones stepped down at SMU on Monday, Jones and Chow exchanged several texts. They care about each other — as coaching-fraternity brothers and friends. When Jones was set to leave UH in January 2008, he recommended, among others, Chow as a replacement. Jones is loyal to his friends.
Jones, more than anyone, knows that the UH coaching job is difficult. Last year, he noted that a team needs to play a non-conference schedule against teams that are mostly equal in support level. In other words, three of the five non-conference games probably should not be against Pac-12 opponents, or two road games against Big Ten teams.
During his parting meeting with the players, according to someone in the know, Jones spoke of the SMU program becoming “stagnant” — a situation for which he apologized — and that a change would be good for the team. Jones had expressed those feelings during the 2004 season, when the Warriors were criticized for a slump. That mood lightened when Jones hired his good friend, Jerry Glanville, to coach the defense in 2005. Jones also had felt that UH, despite going to the Sugar Bowl after a perfect 2007 regular season, needed a spark — his departure — to make improvements in facilities and support that it would not otherwise make.
All of which leads to Jones’ best gifts — creativity and marketing. When he was hired as UH coach in December 1998, his agent helped establish a marketing program. While the revenue split might be debatable, the workers were private employees, meaning there was no long-term obligation if it didn’t work out. He changed the uniform color and nickname, but that was designed to sell more H merchandise. And, yes, he was instrumental in the development of the H logo. When Jones needed a better practice field, he brought in pro sports’ best landscaper, George Toma. When he needed an inspirational speaker, he brought in the real Rudy. Jones put together a fund-raising dinner that grossed more than $300,000. And so forth.
For speculation’s sake, if there were an administrative opening in the future and Jones wanted to return to UH, it would not be as a coach.