DALLAS Staying at Hawaii would have been the easy choice for June Jones. It was the challenge of rebuilding a tattered football program that led him to take the coaching job at Southern Methodist, which stumbled to a 1-11 record this season.
"Where you are now excites me because the only way is up, and I am good at going up," Jones said Monday.
The introduction of Jones at a booster-packed press conference ended the nation's longest college coaching search this year. It had been 70 days since Phil Bennett was dismissed with four games left in the season.
School officials hope Jones can bring some of Hawaii's run-and-shoot magic, which produced 43 points per game, an undefeated regular season and a BCS bowl berth this year. They were also impressed by Jones' ability to resuscitate Hawaii, which went 0-12 before he arrived in 1999 and won nine games.
Jones' decision to leave Hawaii came after an extraordinary bidding war that even involved the governor of Hawaii.
Leigh Steinberg, Jones' agent, said the coach accepted a five-year deal worth about $2 million per year. He said Hawaii offered about $1.6 million per year.
"In 30 years representing athletes, I've never seen the emotional reaction from a state like Hawaii," Steinberg said. "There was a flood of e-mails and calls exhorting him to stay."