For June Jones, a triumphant return

December 28, 2009, 8:17 PM HST · Updated December 28, 8:17 PM
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By Fred Guzman

MauiNow.com

It took 25 years to finally overcome the so-called death penalty, but no one can argue that football is again alive and flourishing at Southern Methodist University. And a coach with a history of resurrecting football programs was the architect of this turnaround, capped by a triumphant return to Aloha Stadium.

June Jones, who took over an 0-12 team Hawaii and turned around the program before leaving for financially greener pastures after leading UH to the Sugar Bowl, guided the Mustangs to 45-10 romp past Nevada before a modest Christmas Eve crowd of 20,217.

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Leading the way for SMU was 18-year-old true freshman quarterback Kyle Padron, who passed for a school record 460 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-4, 201-pounder completed passes to nine different receivers, hitting on 32 of 41 attempts without a pick.

SMU finished the season at 8-5 after going 1-11 in Jones’ frst year on the job. The Mustangs’ last previous post-season appearance was in the 1984 Aloha Bowl, when they beat Notre Dame, 27-20.

SMU averaged 8.2 yards per play and its 534 offensive yards was a season-best. Nevada, which entered the game ranked first nationally in rushing with 362.3 yards per game, was held to 137 yards on the ground. The Wolf Pack played without two of its unprecedented three 1,000-yard rushers. Vai Taua was academically ineligible and Luke Lippincott had season-ending surgery.

URBAN DEVELOPMENTS: If your head is still spinning from Urban Meyer’s two misdirection plays over the weekend, you are not alone. Fans of the Florida Gators are confused, as well, but pleased that Meyer changed his mind about stepping down as head coach of their wildly successful football program.

The reasons given by Meyer for his stunning initial announcement on Saturday were concerns about his health and the effects of what he described as “self-destructive behavior” could have on his family. At the time, Meyer said he would coach the Gators in their Sugar Bowl game against Cincinnati and then resign as head coach. Meyer has guided Florida to a pair of national titles in five years on the job.

Twenty hours later, after a sleepless night and a spirited practice with his team, Meyer withdrew his resignation and said he instead will take a leave of absence, fully intending to return to the sideline for Florida’s season-opener next fall.

Meyer sidestepped specific questions about his health during yesterday’s press conference. He has long had a heart muscle defect that has him chest pains over the years. He also recently revealed that he has a brain cyst that causes him acute pain during stressful situations. But what is football coaching at the highest level if not stressful. And addictive, as Urban Meyer’s change of mind clearly reflects.

TEO DEFERS MISSION: Notre Dame freshman linebacker Manti Te’o will delay taking a Mormon mission and return to play next season. The Punahou graduate from Laie started the last 8 games for the Irish and was fourth on the team with 63 tackles. The 6-2, 244-pounder had 10 stops in the season finale against Stanford and also had 10 versus the Washington Huskies.

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