Monday, January 7, 2008

Major Suckage: June Jones ships out to SMU

This really saddens me: June Jones has accepted SMU's $2 million offer to coach their football team.

As some of you may know, when I was eighteen and choosing between colleges, I ended up going to the University of Hawai'i. I was a kid from Vermont who had spent his entire life living in the parochial New England culture, and I wanted to see some more stuff. My uncle and aunt lived (still do live) on O'ahu, so it seemed like a once in a lifetime chance that I couldn't pass up. I was right.

One things that you realize living in Hawai'i is that football is king out there. Kids from the bigger Honolulu schools routinely end up in Division I programs, playing for West Coast teams like Washington, Washington State, USC, and BYU. I came to UH in 1999, the same year that June Jones began his first season as coach. This was a team that hadn't won a game the year before, and they were promptly drubbed at home by Carson Palmer-led USC. I don't even remember if Hawai'i scored, but you could tell something exciting was about to happen. The entire campus was energized, and I could tell this was energy that hadn't been there the year before.

An aside about the UH-Manoa campus when I was there: it was in disrepair. Paint peeled off the sides of buildings. The grass seemed burnt, and everywhere you went you got a feeling that things were just dirty. Perhaps they were once nice, new, and clean, but that was a while ago. And no one really cared. There was an apathy that extended throughout the campus. Students were just going through the motions, professors seemed to only give half a shit, and no one really took much seriously.

But then the football team got good.

They won nine games that year, and Coach Jones that year led the biggest single-season turn around in NCAA history. They won a share of WAC title, and even won the O'ahu Bowl over Oregon State that year. Going to games became electric. You could tell that this wasn't something that they were used to, those Warrior fans. And fans got fiesty about things. Let me tell you, there's nothing quite like sitting in the student section and watching a mob of angry Samoan men (drunk off their asses) start down towards you because they are going out on the field to get a piece of that ref that just blew a call.

That happened a lot. And I loved it.

The whole attitude changed there. Hell, the team even dropped the Rainbow from Rainbow Warriors to fit the new mentality. The second year I was there, all rainbows were gone, and the current logo became official. The defense even had a name: The Island Swarm. Also gone were the white and grey unis. It was clearly new and exciting, a lot like when the Red Sox won in 2004 and we Sox fans went around for a few weeks wondering how we were supposed to act and think now that everything we'd known about our team and about ourselves as fans was no longer true. It was wild, awesome, and a little weird.

And now, well, Coach Jones is gone. He meant a lot to that program, the school, and the state. Every island held its breath when he fell asleep at the wheel, swerved, and smashed into a concrete pilon and went into a coma afterwards. There's no blame to go around here. Hawaii should have, if it could have, given him up-to-date facilities and the ability to recruit nationally. What football player in his right mind would decline an offer to play in paradise for a former NFL coach?
But, sadly, this is the end of an exciting football era. When Hawaii is good at football, all of college football wins in my opinion. We need less Southern domination, and we need the wealth to be spread northerly and westerly. I'd like to think that we as football fans have all lost now that Coach Jones has gone to Texas.

1 comment:

Shane Rollins said...

I continue to be of the opinion that the SEC is overrated as a whole. I don't care if they were 6 and 2 so far in bowl games, some of those wins were against some easy ass schools. The two teams that lost that were supposed to be in the top four of the SEC lost against superior opponents (Missouri and Michigan).

I'm sorry beating UCF, Clemson and a roster ravaged Florida St doesn't impress me. I think Hawaii lost because it's players just weren't used to playing in the limelight and the game would have been much closer if they were a team used to such.

I hope Ohio St kills LSU tonight, cause LSU isn't the best team in the country. Neither is Ohio State, but then USC at least has bragging rights over them since they demolished the team that beat them.