Jones at SMU for the long haul

After scaring the Mustang fan base by almost leaving the Hilltop for Arizona State last week, June Jones told reporters this week that he's committed to SMU, has unfinished business to attend to and that this will be his final coaching job.

The past week has been quite the whirlwind for the SMU community.

June Jones appeared to have both feet out the door en route to Arizona State, but something went awry – maybe his $2 million buyout, or maybe ASU booster opposition – and the job switch didn't work out.

Monday was the first day Jones has met with the media since last week's chaos. There he explained that he was sorry how the events transpired and now, looking back, he's realized there's no place he'd rather be than at SMU.

"I'm committed to being here," Jones told a group of reporters before football practice on Monday. "I'm going to be here for the rest of my coaching career."

Jones believes his discussions with Arizona State actually helped the Mustangs' program. The Friday after the ASU negotiations came to a screeching halt, the SMU coach had breakfast with University President R. Gerald Turner.

"We had some really positive conversations," Jones said. "[The conversations] confirmed that we're moving forward in the direction we need to go. I feel like we're closer to addressing all the things that have to be addressed to be successful here and that's classroom stuff, that's academic stuff, that's marketing stuff, that's putting the kids first.

"Everybody is committed to doing that."

One of the biggest issues about last week was not that Jones was talking to another Division I school – people are entitled to listen to what they may deem opportunities of a lifetime. It was the way it all unfolded—it became public knowledge that Jones met with ASU officials in Dallas during SMU's most crucial recruiting weekend in the last 25 years and that he almost signed a new contract with the Sun Devils on the day SMU was announced as a new Big East member.

"When you're successful, stuff happens," Jones said. "My only regret is I'm sorry it happened and how it went down. That's the unfortunate thing."

Jones told recruits who were visiting campus this past weekend that he would be at SMU for their entire careers. He reinforced that by telling reporters that SMU will be his last coaching gig.

However, he did say he told his team the same thing last year.

"Last year when I signed my extension, I said, ‘Guys, I could see this being my last job,'" Jones said. "I would have had to live with not walking the walk. I told the kids that the worst thing is that it happened when it did and it's unfortunate that we don't have control over that social media stuff now.

"It wasn't on our end. Somebody on their end leaked it out."

Jones said he addressed his team last Thursday, has since met with individual players and then again talked to everyone on Monday before the team's first practice in preparation for Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl (which is on Jan. 2 in Birmingham, Ala.).

Jones said he doesn't know why things didn't work out with Arizona State, but he's glad now that he doesn't have to make the decision between the Pac-12 school and SMU.

"I thought it was inevitable they'd offer me, but I never got the job. For whatever reason, it just didn't happen," he said. "I'm thankful I didn't have to make a decision because I had told the kids I was going to be here and I would have had to live with the fact that I wasn't."

Jones has a strong faith and believes everything happens for a reason. He explained that he has unfinished business to do in the Dallas community, referencing his work with inner city kids and with the ministry.

"If I was at another school, I couldn't do [those things]," Jones said. "SMU is a very unique place and I really feel that's why I'm here."

As far as there being any bad blood between him and ASU or him and SMU, that's all a moot point. He's said his peace, apologized to his team, answered questions from alumni and is all about moving forward with the Mustangs.

"I don't really care at this point [why Arizona State didn't hire me], it's not important to me," Jones said. "God didn't want me to be anywhere but here."


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