“June would throw” is the synonymous slogan used when describing SMU head coach June Jones’ offensive philosophy.
In his second year in Dallas Jones led the Mustangs to a 7-5 regular season record, a six-win turnaround from 1-11 in 2008.
Southern Methodist University—the only football team to suffer the “Death Penalty”—played in their first bowl game since 1984 when they defeated Notre Dame 27-20 in the Aloha Bowl. The Mustangs concluded their first winning season since 1997.
How fitting was it that the team’s first bowl game in 25 years came at Aloha Stadium, the same venue where Jones spent his previous eight seasons coaching and cementing his legacy with the run-and-shoot offense. It was a homecoming of sorts for the head coach.
The Mustangs dominated the 2009 Hawaii Bowl on Thursday night with a 45-10 victory against the Nevada Wolfpack. They jumped out to a 31-0 lead at the half.
Freshman quarterback Kyle Padron threw for a school-record 460 yards en route to what the Associated Press titled “SMU is back from the dead.” Padron received MVP honors for his performance, going 32-for-41 with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
"I wouldn't say the Pony Express, but it brings back a lot of boosters and a lot of the alumni to know we have a football team again," said Padron in a media release.
SMU played in the Southwest Conference with Texas, Texas A&M, Arkansas, TCU, Rice, Houston and Baylor until 1996 when the conference dissolved. They joined the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in ’96 before joining Conference USA in 2005.
The Mustangs totaled 534 yards of offense on the night, increasing their lead to 38-0 before Nevada scored a field goal with 3:08 remaining in the third quarter.
"They outplayed us, they outcoached us, they did an excellent job," Nevada head coach Chris Ault said in a media release. "We were never involved for whatever reason."
The program looks to be on the right track to success following the effects of NCAA sanctions. The eight wins this year is the most the Mustangs have had since the 1980s.
When Jones took the head-coaching job at the University of Hawaii-Manoa in 1999, he took over a football team that was in the midst of an 18-game losing streak and went 0-12 in 1998. All Jones did in his first year with the Warriors was lead them to a 9-4 record, the most dramatic turnaround in NCAA football history, as well as a share of the WAC championship.
The team made a bowl game that season following a seven-year drought. During Jones’ tenure the Warriors had seven winning seasons, making it to a bowl game in six of those years.
Jones’ most successful campaign came in his final year at Hawaii where the team finished the 2007 season undefeated, earning a bid to the BCS where they faced Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Notable former players at Hawaii include quarterbacks Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan. Chang became the NCAA all-time leader in pass yards in 2004 with 17,072 career yards. He eclipsed BYU quarterback Ty Detmer who had 15,031 yards.
Brennan led the undefeated Warriors team to the Sugar Bowl in 2007. He set the NCAA single-season record for touchdown passes and passer efficiency rating.
Following the team’s unprecedented run in ’07, Jones announced he would be leaving Hawaii for SMU. For all his success he was never satisfied with the lack of support the University provided.
Since his arrival in Dallas the program has improved drastically. It was evident on Thursday night when the 12-point underdogs took the opposition to the woodshed. The players said they were motivated by America, with 91 percent picking Nevada to upend SMU.
This is the second time Jones has proved his worth, by once more taking over a struggling team and restoring yet another program along the way.
The Mustangs never fully recovered from the Death Penalty but under Jones are sure to find more success than they have had in the 20 years before his arrival.