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After five seasons at the helm of the SMU football program, June Jones has proven again that he is master architect in building and rebuilding football programs. After winning just two games in two seasons, the Jones' Mustangs have won 30 games and three bowl championships over the past four years, reestablishing championship football on the Hilltop.
In 2008, Jones took over an SMU program that had not been to a bowl game in nearly a quarter century. Despite its rich tradition, SMU had struggled since the early 1980s and the days of the "Pony Express."
Jones and the Mustangs changed all that in 2009, however, snapping a 25-year bowl drought, claiming a Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Championship, and earning a share of the Conference USA Western Division Championship. SMU finished the season with an 8-5 mark, the largest turnaround in the nation in 2009 (+7 wins). A winner of three National Coach of the Year Awards in his career, Jones was named Conference USA Coach of the Year by The Sporting News in 2009, marking the fourth Conference Coach of the Year Award for Jones in his 11 seasons as a head coach, and, following SMU's 45-10 destruction of Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl, was also named Coach of the Bowl Season by College Football News.
The 2010 season featured another first, as SMU made its first appearance in the Conference USA Championship game, earning its second straight C-USA Western Division title. SMU also earned a bowl bid for the second straight season, reaching the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. The 2011 season produced another eight wins and a BBVA Compass Bowl Championship as SMU thrashed Pitt, 28-6. Along the way, SMU beat rival TCU, giving the Mustangs and Jones the coveted Iron Skillet. The 2012 campaign concluded with another Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Championship, giving SMU three bowl crowns in four years. Jones has also helped build an SMU-NFL pipeline, with 17 Mustangs currently in the league. Jones came to the Hilltop after nine years at Hawaii, where he took a downtrodden Warrior football program and built it into one of the most exciting and competitive squads in the country.
Jones led his Hawaii teams to 76 wins - the most by any Hawaii coach - two Western Athletic Conference Championships and six bowl-game appearances. In 1998, Hawaii suffered its first-ever winless season. The following year, the first under Jones, the Warriors went 9-4, marking the biggest turnaround in NCAA history. He developed six All-Americans and produced 17 NFL draft picks, with a school-record five in 2007. In the five years before Jones' arrival, Hawaii combined for 12 wins and not a single draft pick or bowl game berth.
Jones catapulted the Warrior program into the national rankings in his nine seasons, with Hawaii ranking in the top 40 in seven of his nine years, including a top-10 ranking in 2007. For his efforts, Jones was ranked as the top non-BCS coach in the nation by The Sporting News in the spring of 2008.
The 2007 season proved to be the pinnacle of success for Jones at Hawaii, as he led his team to the national spotlight with a top-10 national ranking, a BCS Bowl berth and the school's first Heisman Trophy finalist. Hawaii finished the 2007 regular-season undefeated at 12-0 and was the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision to earn that distinction. Along the way, the team shattered dozens of NCAA, conference and school records as Jones became just the third coach to lead a team to a BCS Bowl from a conference without an automatic BCS berth. For his efforts, Jones was named the 2007 WAC Coach of the Year and was one of seven finalists for the 2007 Paul "Bear" Bryant College Coach of the Year Award.
Jones is the mastermind of one of the nation's most prolific offenses and was one of just 14 head coaches in the nation to also serve as offensive coordinator in 2007. Jones' run-and-shoot attack led the Western Athletic Conference and ranked in the top five nationally in each of his nine seasons at Hawaii. In 2006, the Warriors averaged 46.9 points and 559.2 yards of total offense per game, with 441.29 yards generated through the air, leading the nation in all three categories. Hawaii was potent in 2007 as well, leading the nation in scoring at 46.2 points per game. Under Jones, the Warriors broke more than 400 school records and 50 NCAA records.
Jones-tutored quarterbacks have secured their place among the all-time greats in collegiate football, with Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan holding several NCAA records. In 2004, Chang made NCAA history by becoming the all-time passing leader with 17,072 yards, and in 2007, Colt Brennan, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy race, broke 29 NCAA records, including passing touchdowns in a season (58) and career (131).
Jones was named the 1999 National Coach of the Year (CNN/Sports Illustrated, American Football Coach/Schutt Sports & The Sporting News) after leading the Warriors to a share of the WAC Championship and a 23-17 win over Oregon State in the Jeep O'ahu Bowl. It was the program's first bowl game since 1992. The 1999 season also marked the first of three Conference Coach of the Year awards for Jones (1999, 2006, 2007).
On the heels of an injury-plagued 3-9 season in 2000, Jones was involved in a car accident on Feb. 22, 2001, that nearly claimed his life. The accident kept Jones out of the entire spring session, but his tireless effort to recover allowed him to return to the field in time for fall camp.
In 2001, receiver Chad Owens led the nation in kickoff return average (33.6 yards) and Chang led the nation in total offense (349.7 yards) before bowing out to a wrist injury as Hawaii went 9-3.
The 2002 campaign saw Hawaii post a 10-win season and claim a victory in the ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl.
The 2003 season marked the first with a roster comprised of all Jones' recruits, and Jones led the team to a successful 9-5 campaign as the Warriors won the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl with a 54-48 triple-overtime victory over Houston. That gave Jones his second bowl win and third bowl appearance at Hawaii, both the most of any coach in the 96 years of the program.
The 2004 season marked one of the best finishes in Hawaii football history. The Warriors won their last three games to earn an invitation to a bowl game and Jones and crew capped the comeback season with a convincing 59-40 win over UAB in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
While the 5-7 2005 season was plagued with injuries, the 2006 campaign brought about renewed enthusiasm.
In 2006, the Warriors posted an 11-3 mark and finished second in the WAC with a 7-1 league record. The only blemish in conference was a loss to eventual WAC Champion and BCS bowl team Boise State. During the season, Brennan caught the nation's attention as the junior tossed an NCAA-record 58 touchdowns while the squad went on to win the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl a fourth time.
Jones has also led players to success in the classroom, as his Hawaii teams produced 27 Academic All-WAC honorees in his first eight years at the Hawaii helm. Before joining the Warriors in 1999, Jones enjoyed a 12-year coaching career in the NFL, including head coaching stops at Atlanta (1994-96) and San Diego (1998). With the Falcons, Jones guided the team that he once played for to a playoff wild-card berth in 1995.
Originally from Portland, Ore., Jones graduated from New York State Regents College after playing quarterback at Oregon (1971-1972), Hawaii (1973-1974), and Portland State (1975-1976) and went on to play professionally for the Atlanta Falcons (1977-1981) of the NFL and the Toronto Argonauts (1982) of the Canadian Football League.