SMU coach June Jones, who signed a three-year contract extension in December, has stepped down from his job leading the Mustangs.
SMU, which is 0-2 this season, will be guided on an interim basis for the rest of the season by defensive coordinator Tom Mason.
Jones, 61, was in his seventh season at SMU and finishes with a 36-43 record with the Mustangs. After a 1-11 season in 2008, he guided SMU to bowls in four consecutive seasons -- the first bowls for the Mustangs since 1984. SMU finished a disappointing 5-7 last season and is winless this season, including a crushing 43-6 loss to North Texas this past Saturday. While Jones seemed to have righted the ship in his first few seasons at the school, it looks now as if the Mustangs plateaued in 2011, then started a downward descent.
After that season, Jones was said to be a leading candidate for the job at Arizona State, which eventually went to Todd Graham. His relationship with school officials and boosters has been strained since then.
Jones coached the Atlanta Falcons from 1994-96 and also was an assistant with the Detroit Lions, Houston Oilers and San Diego Chargers (for whom he was an interim coach in 1997). He also spent five seasons as a quarterback with the Falcons (1977-81) before getting into coaching.
Before going to SMU, Jones spent nine mostly successful seasons at Hawaii; the school has had five 10-win seasons since begining football in 1909, and Jones was coach for three of them. His crowning achievement was leading the Warriors to the Sugar Bowl after the 2007 season, one of the greatest coaching jobs of the past decade. He left for SMU after that season, and Hawaii slowly has become one of the worst programs in the FBS ranks, winning just four games since the beginning of the 2011 season.
While SMU's facilities are somewhat dated, it is an intriguing "mid-major" job. The school is in Dallas, which means the recruiting base is one of the best in the nation. In addition, the school is willing to spend money, as it showed when it decided to pay Jones $2 million per season and when it hired Larry Brown as its basketball coach.
Look for a mix of young up-and-comers and older coaches looking to end their careers on an up note to express interest in the vacancy.
SMU is one of two Texas-based schools in the AAC; Houston is the other.
SMU's athletic director is Rick Hart, who is in his third season at the school and was hired away from Tennessee-Chattanooga. Hart also has worked at East Carolina, North Carolina and Oklahoma. His dad is Dave Hart, the AD at Tennessee.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.