June Sheldon Jones, III (born February 19, 1953 in Portland, Oregon) is an American football coach, formerly with the Atlanta Falcons and the University of Hawaiʻi. He agreed to become head coach at Southern Methodist University on January 7, 2008.
Jones played the quarterback position on three college teams: Oregon (1971-1972), Hawaii (1973-1974), and Portland State (1975-1976). It is during his time at Portland State that he would be introduced to the Run and Shoot offense by Mouse Davis. It would be an offense that he would later champion throughout his coaching career. Thereafter, he entered professional football, playing for the Atlanta Falcons (1977-1981) of the National Football League and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (1982). In four seasons with the Falcons, Jones completed 75 of 166 passes for 923 yards with three touchdowns and seven interceptions.
In 1983, Jones started his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Dick Tomey at the University of Hawaii. He then spent two years in the USFL, first as the wide receivers coach for the Houston Gamblers (1984), then as the offensive coordinator for the Denver Gold (1985). Following the demise of the USFL, Jones spent the 1986 season working as an offensive assistant for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League. In 1987, he got his first NFL coaching position serving as the quarterbacks coach on Jerry Glanville's staff with the Houston Oilers. After Glanville was released by the Oilers, he would join the Detroit Lions coaching staff upon the recommendation of Mouse Davis, his college head coach at Portland State who was serving as the team's offensive coordinator.
Jones reunited with Glanville upon joining the Atlanta Falcons organization in 1991 as its assistant head coach. In 1994, Jones replaced Glanville as the team's head coach, a move that caused a rift between the two. Reportedly, they did not speak to each other for several years thereafter. (Later, in the 2000s, Jones would hire Glanville as defensive coordinator at Hawaii). As head coach, Jones installed the Run & Shoot offense he learned under Mouse Davis. Initially, Quarterback Jeff George flourished under the system, passing for 3,734 yards and 23 touchdowns in Jones' first year and 4143 yards and 24 touchdowns his second year. In 1995, Jones' second season as head coach, the Falcons went to the playoffs, losing in the first round to the Green Bay Packers. The following year, the Falcons posted a 3-13 record, leading to Jones' dismissal. Jones' coaching record over three seasons in Atlanta was nineteen wins and twenty-nine losses. He also clashed with quarterback Jeff George during his final season, including a well publicized and widely broadcast profanity laced shouting match during a September 23 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The feud contributed to both men's release by the organization.
Jones returned to coaching when the San Diego Chargers hired him as quarterbacks coach on January 20, 1998. On October 13, 1998, head coach Kevin Gilbride was let go after the sixth game and Jones became the interim head coach. In games coached by Jones, the Chargers won three of ten games, giving Jones a career NFL coaching record of 22 wins and 36 losses.
Jones joined the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa football team as head coach, replacing Fred von Appen, who was fired when the team lost 18 games in a row, including all twelve games in the 1998 season. Jones led the Rainbow Warriors to a 9-4 record and a share of the Western Athletic Conference football championship in the 1999 season, making it the most dramatic turnaround in NCAA football history. With Jones's success on the field, and media-friendly persona off the field, he instantly became one of the most famous people in Hawaiʻi, with some people making "June Jones for Governor" T-shirts. Reflecting his offensive philosophy, bumper stickers with the slogan "June would throw" were sold, a reference to legendary Hawaiʻian lifeguard Eddie Aikau.
During his tenure at Hawaiʻi, he has coached five All-Americans, 52 all-conference performers, and eight NFL draft picks. In particular, Jones claims to have made a special effort to recruit local talent in his players and coaching staff. One of the most notable of his recruits was quarterback Timmy Chang, who became the all-time NCAA leader in passing yardage.
Jones nearly died in a car accident on February 22, 2001, missing the spring season because of his injuries.
On December 24, 2006, Jones passed Dick Tomey to become the winningest head coach in Hawaiʻi football history (against an all-college schedule) with a 41-24 victory over Arizona State in the 2006 Hawaiʻi Bowl. As for the recruits that Jones usually goes for as a coach, the profiles of typical targets are: (1) Polynesian kids, (2) kids who have lived in Hawaiʻi or have family here, (3) military kids with no permanent home, (4) kids recovering from injuries and (5) kids from broken homes, (6) the rare kid from the penal system. "Some of my best players I've recruited out of jail," Jones said in reference to the past legal troubles of quarterback Colt Brennan and wide receiver Davone Bess.
Frustrated with what he viewed as a lack of support from the University, Jones opted to leave Hawaii at the end of the 2007 season. After initial reports had him interviewing at SMU, Hawaii officials had offers to raise his salary from $800,000 a year to $1.7 million a year and offered a commitment to improve its facilities; in addition there was an outpouring of support from Hawaii fans, including Gov. Linda Lingle. However, Jones contacted Hawaii on January 7, 2008 and let them know he had decided to accept an offer from SMU. Jones said the work that needed to be done to improve the football facilities and the campus in general would never get done with him still there. He said after all of the broken promises, leaving was the only way to send a message. Jones went 75-41 at Hawaii, including 4-2 in bowls. His teams finished first in the WAC twice and second two other times.
Southern Methodist UniversityEdit
In a press conference at the Hall of Champions adjacent to Gerald J. Ford Stadium on January 7, 2008, June Jones was introduced as new head football coach of the Southern Methodist University. He is the school's 5th coach since the “death penalty” in 1987. Jones will try to turn a football program around that had its last bowl game appearance in 1984 and its last winning season in 1997. Jones agreed to a 5-year contract with SMU, which will earn him $2 million annually, making him by far the best paid coach in Conference USA.
Jones' time in Hawaiʻi has not been without controversy. He has set new precedents as head coach, and some fault him for discarding long-standing traditions. After his first season, he made several changes to the identity of the football team, including changing the name of the football team from “Rainbow Warriors” to simply “Warriors.”
During the 2004 season, after negotiating a contract with a $800,016 annual salary making him the highest-paid public employee in the state, he faced discontent from fans, faculty and media about his struggling team. The team eventually finished with a 7-5 regular season and a victory in the Hawaiʻi Bowl.
Jones has been criticized for rarely running the ball, preferring a wide-open pass-heavy offense. Many college football followers disagree with Jones' Run & Shoot approach, but the success of his quarterbacks (most notably Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan) have made clear that the passing offense that Jones runs is efficient and effective, and his teams score and win by using it.
In an interview following the 2007 BCS bowl selection, Jones labeled eventual Heisman winner Tim Tebow a “system quarterback.” Ironically, Jones' quarterbacks have often fallen under the stigma of a “system quarterback,” including Chang and Brennan.