The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Jones looks to return Mustangs to past glory

June Jones traded in his lei for a cowboy hat and left the sandy beaches and tropical colors of Hawaii to come to Dallas, where the flowers are found at florists and the vibrant colors are in the stands of Ford Stadium.

Jones replaced Phil Bennett as the new head coach of the SMU football team. He has a strategy for winning that has worked for him in the past.

“He is one of the most well-respected offensive coaches in college football,” said Emmanuel Sanders, a sophomore wide receiver for the Mustangs.

Jones was coming off the most successful season at the University of Hawaii when SMU hired him. His record was 76-41 in nine seasons in Honolulu. Before hiring Jones in 1999, Hawaii had an 18-game losing streak.

Jones hopes to have the same success with the Mustangs.

“I look forward to making you proud of SMU [football],” he said at a Jan. 7 press conference at SMU. The press conference can be viewed on YouTube.com.

The SMU football team hasn’t had a winning season since returning from the death penalty in 1989. Nor has it been invited to a bowl game since 1984. The National Collegiate Athletic Association can issue a death penalty to an academic institution, forcing it to abstain from participating in a particular sport. The death penalty is given to repeat violators of NCAA rules and regulations.

Josh Bryant is a slot receiver on the SMU football team. He admits that he was skeptical of Jones at first.

“How much can one man change a team?” Bryant asked.

After the team’s first practice with Jones on March 4, Bryant realized he was wrong. He said that Jones has brought a team of experts to help SMU, including an offensive coach and several special-teams coaches.

Bryant also said that Jones spends a great deal of time mentally preparing the players. This is vital to the morale of the team, he said. Although the team felt badly about last season’s 1-11 record, Jones has high hopes for this year.

“He trains the mind so that you can believe that you can do so many things,” Bryant says.

Sanders, a sophomore CCPA major, agrees. He says Jones is focusing on building the players’ confidence. Sanders explains that Jones teaches the team members how to become better people and how to be mentally ready for the football game.

“He prepares you so much mentally so that it translates positively on the field,” said Sanders.

Bryant, a junior CCPA major, adds that the team was thrilled to hear of Jones’ arrival.

“When he got announced as the coach there was so much excitement that you could swear that we had won the National Championship,” said Bryant.

Jones makes the players recite inspirational quotes at all of their meetings.

“Jones tells us that we’re going to keep doing things until excellence is a habit,” said Bryant.

The players are certain that Jones is qualified to lead them to victory.

“He is so smart and he knows the game inside and out,” Sanders said.

Jones’ coaching record confirms the players’ confidence in him. The coach led Hawaii to a 1999 Western Athletic Conference football championship and a Bowl Championship Series in 2007.

He developed a system of coaching 20 years ago. It involves introducing four or five things a day and practicing them for two days straight.

Tommy Poynter, a senior accounting major, believes this strategy has great potential to be successful at SMU as well. Poynter is an offensive lineman for the Mustangs.

Jones’ strategy focuses on perfecting the offense in what is called a “spread offense,” which involves always throwing the ball.

“It has proven to be successful in other places…it was proven to be successful in Hawaii and also in the NFL,” Poynter said.

Pom Squad member Meghan Sheehan hopes this is the case. “We don’t want to be stuck where we’ve been in the past couple of years. We want to move forward,” she said.

The attendance at the SMU football games is on average less than 50 percent. This is one of the lowest attendance rates in the state, according to The Daily Campus. SMU hopes the addition of Jones will draw students to the game.

SMU senior Anthony Giamello is hopeful that Jones will turn the team around.

“I am excited about the arrival of June Jones. He turned around Hawaii and I think he will eventually do the same here,” Giamello, a fan of SMU football, said.

Sheehan, a junior advertising major, believes the students of SMU are already looking forward to next season.

“There is definitely support within the area and the alumni and the students so I think we will see a positive reaction with student attendance to the game because June Jones is such a prominent figure in college football,” she said.

Nicole Schultz, a junior pom squad member, agrees. She thinks the excitement about the new coach will translate into excitement about the games.

“The more the support, the more students, the more fun and exciting the whole thing is and I think that June Jones is just a step in the right direction for our whole athletic department,” Schultz said.

The first game of the season is on Friday, Aug. 29 in Houston against Rice. The game is highly anticipated as it is the first game in all of college football and it is airing live on ESPN.

“I can’t wait because I guess we are the team to watch,” said Sanders.

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