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Dark day for Hawaii football and the state

It's being reported that Hawaii lost its bid to keep football coach June Jones, who apparently has been successfully wooed by SMU with an offer of $2 million a year for five years. Reportedly, Hawaii was offering $1.5 million for five years, was willing to give raises to Jones' assistants and upgrade the facilities, which apparently was a major concern for the run-and-shoot coach who took over a program that was winless the year before he arrived.

A news conference is expected today to announce that Jones is going to SMU, which has never recovered from the death penalty it received in the late 1980s. The Mustangs are counting on Jones' prominence and turn-around skills to do in Texas what he did in Hawaii.

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According to Jones' agent, Leigh Steinberg, it was an emotional decision for Jones and one that I don't believe was made entirely because of the difference in money.

For one thing, Hawaii didn't even begin to address the renewal of Jones' contract -- it ends in June -- until after the Warriors' Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia. As most fans know, Hawaii was the only undefeated major college football team headed into bowl season. In addition to the University of Hawaii ignoring Jones' personal situation until the 11th hour was the fact that through the nine years that Jones worked there, the university failed to substantially upgrade the facilities as the program grew in stature. Now, as Jones is on the verge of leaving Hawaii, the state tried to rally to express how much Jones and his program means to the islands.

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If Jones does indeed leave Hawaii, it will have been too little, too late.

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