When asked during the AAC teleconference this morning as to whether he was surprised by Jones’ sudden resignation last week, O’Leary said, “How surprised? Well, I was. I spoke to June at media days in Newport. I haven’t spoken to June since, but I think something was going on that he just didn’t understand or like as far as the school with some rules that they had there, but I’m not really at liberty to talk about because I’m not sure what they were. But I knew there were some things that were bothering him at that time.”
O’Leary added, “I think June, we worked against each other in Conference USA and the American Conference. He’s just a very solid football coach that understands programs. I think he’s been in programs where he’s had to build the program up which is much tougher than going to an established program already, so I always have a great respect for coaches like that. I have great respect for June Jones and what he’s accomplished.”
In an SMU press release announcing Jones' resignation, Jones was quoted as saying: "I have some personal issues I have been dealing with and I need to take a step away so I can address them at this time."
Director of athletics Rick Hart said Jones' decision to resign was "his own."
The Mustangs went 36-43 and qualified for a bowl game four times in six-plus seasons under Jones.
SMU hired the 61-year-old in January 2008, after he coached nine seasons at Hawaii. In December, Jones signed a three-year contract extension with the program running through 2017. He reportedly earned an average of $2 million annually.
- Chris Johnson