June’s Dream Christmas In Hawaii

Bobby Curran
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Friday - November 25, 2009
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It looks like June Jones and the SMU Mustangs will be spending Christmas in paradise. Moments after their bowl qualifying win over UTEP at Ford Stadium in Dallas, the loudspeaker blasted Mele Kalikimaka to the bowl-starved Mustang faithful. SMU could end up being the turnaround team of 2009, making it the second time that June Jones will have accomplished the feat.

Scheduling is a huge part of success at the turnstile. This Saturday’s UH-Navy game at Aloha Stadium will be the largest crowd yet of the 2009 season. The military academies have always drawn well, plus former Warrior QB Ken Niumatalolo is the head coach at Annapolis, which gives the game added sizzle. The two offenses are almost opposites in terms of run-throw percentages, but uncannily similar in their conception. Each was designed to present opponents with a scheme they rarely see, allowing the teams to compete with teams that have more physical talent. UH is always near the top of the NCAA statistics in passing. Navy is always near the pinnacle in rushing. I expect this to be an exciting, high-scoring affair, and the victory could go to the team that has the ball last.


Dick Tomey’s announced retirement at San Jose State has to cause the WAC some level of concern. Before Tomey arrived, there was talk of the Spartans either downgrading or dropping football altogether. Despite fending off the naysayers for his five-year term, the dismal California economy and state budget crisis will likely bring out the anti-football faction before the door has closed behind the 71-year-old coach. It’s hard enough for the Spartans to compete at their commuter campus. And trying to operate on a shoestring budget won’t make things any easier.

Last week’s Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic Championship game tipped off at 11 p.m. because of participation in ESPN’s 24-hour marathon hoops schedule. As you’d expect, the crowd was somewhat smaller than usual, with the game played on a Monday night. And there were far more students there than at most other games. But because the seating was general admission, the atmosphere was absolutely electric. Everybody was in the lower bowl and the 2,500 or so in attendance sounded like 10,000. And it was a very good game, though UH fell to Northern Colorado, 81-75. It made you think that there has to be a way to create that kind of home-court advantage on a regular basis.

Great expectations unrealized are the fastest way for coaches to join the unemployment line. Already Tommy West of Memphis and Mark Sanford of UNLV have been fired. Charlie Weiss at Notre Dame is soon to go. In the NFL, Dick Jauron is out with the Buffalo Bills. Tom Cable of the Raiders and Eric Mangini of the Browns can’t be too comfortable right now. In Mangini’s case, seems like only yesterday that owner Ted Lerner was celebrating the hiring. He couldn’t wait to sign Mangini up for big bucks. The decision isn’t looking nearly so good now. The Browns may be the worst team in the NFL.

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