DALLAS (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's official. Football coach June Jones is coming back to play in Hawaii. Today his SMU Mustangs accepted an invitation to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve and it is possible they could play the Warriors.
Southern Methodist University won just one game last season. Then in August June Jones told his team the goal was to go to the Hawaii bowl. He says he wasn't sure anyone believed him then but they do now.
"The kids know what's at stake, and if we want to win we have to suck it up and go to Hawaii," Coach Jones said with a smile at the bowl announcement in Dallas this morning.
Later, we spoke with Jones by phone and asked if he'd rather be playing the Warriors.
"I really would be excited and rooting for UH to win this week because I know what it would do for everything in the state to play that game against SMU," said Jones.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl organizers say UH vs. SMU spells a dream match up.
"The buzz we're getting right now is definitely a positive one so I think it would be one of our best crowds if not the best," said David Matlin, Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Executive Director.
For a chance at the trophy, UH would have to beat a tough Wisconsin team.
"I think there is a good chance. Everyone said they wouldn't beat Navy and they played a great game. Wisconsin has to come here and the Warriors are peaking at the right time," said an optimistic Matlin.
"I called (Coach Greg McMackin) Mack after watching the game. I told him I thought UH looked like a top 10 team, I thought Moniz was unbelievable and I thought the defense just dominated and I don't think Ohio State dominated Navy like UH did. They are gaining confidence with every win and think they'll give Wisconsin all they want and of course we're hoping they win," said Jones.
Two years ago, Jones packed up and left for SMU. It wasn't the best split with UH wanting him to pay out his contract. Now he says he has no hard feelings and when asked if he made the right decision this was his response.
"I miss my friends a lot, and I miss Kona the most. I made new friends here and I love the kids I'm coaching and I have a great staff. It's really not about the place it's about the people. I'm becoming attached to the people here and it's been a great experience," said Jones.
It's SMU's first bowl in 25 years and they're pumped. They're even looking into getting their two horses through quarantine to make the trip. SMU fans will have added incentive to travel. Their basketball team is playing in the Diamond Head Classic tournament the same time.
Warrior fans, if you're a true believer tickets are already on sale. For more information go to http://www.sheratonhawaiibowl.com/index.html