SMU is interested in Hawaii coach June Jones as its new football coach, a source with knowledge of the school's search told the

Dallas Morning News.

The interest might help explain why SMU is still looking for a coach despite firing Phil Bennett on Oct. 28.

Jones has led Hawaii to a 12-0 record and the Allstate Sugar Bowl - one of five Bowl Championship Series games - against Georgia on Jan. 1 at the Louisiana Superdome.

As recently as last week, SMU had not asked Hawaii for permission to speak with Jones. SMU has declined to comment on candidates while its search is ongoing.

Jones is known for his prolific run-and-shoot offense that helped quarterback Colt Brennan become a Heisman finalist this season. He is 76-40 in nine seasons at Hawaii.

Before revamping the Warriors in 1999, Jones spent 12 years in the NFL, including head coaching jobs at Atlanta and San Diego.

Jones, who spent part of his collegiate career playing at Hawaii, was also an assistant with the Houston Oilers.

Jones' current 5-year, $4-million deal with Hawaii reportedly ends in July, and no new deal has been reached.

SMU athletic director Steve Orsini has raised around $10 million for the new coach and staff.

SMU, which has had only two non-losing seasons since 1989, has also reportedly interviewed former Miami coach Larry Coker and had contact with former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione.

Former Navy coach Paul Johnson interviewed in Dallas days before accepting the Georgia Tech job.

Noteworthy

* Defensive standouts Jonal Saint-Dic and SirDarean Adams are among five Michigan State players who will sit out the Champs Sports Bowl on Friday against No. 14 Boston College because of academic or other violations.

The Spartans said that Saint-Dic, a senior defensive end, and three other players are academically ineligible for the bowl game. Adams, a senior linebacker, violated unspecified team rules.

The other ineligible players are wide receiver and return specialist Terry Love, wide receiver/cornerback T.J. Williams and offensive guard Abre Leggins.

Saint-Dic told the Lansing State Journal he failed a math class, his final requirement to graduate with a degree in sociology.

"I only took two classes this semester, a sociology class for three credits and a math class for five credits," Saint-Dic said by phone from his hometown of Elizabeth, N.J. "I need six [passing] credits to play in the bowl game, so if I would have taken more classes, I would have been fine. But I came up two points short in the math class."

"I studied and studied, but I came up short," Saint-Dic said. "It's a shocker. This is something I'm going to learn from, I'm not going to let it put me down. I'm praying for my teammates and I'm going to get my degree, and then I'm going for my master's degree."

MSU coach Mark Dantonio said he makes no excuses for any of the players being ineligible.

"We have stressed the importance of finishing things all season, both in the classroom and on the playing field," the coach said in a statement from Orlando, Fla. "Michigan State provides its student-athletes with a tremendous amount of resources and tools for academic success."

Adams was a key player in the game that made Michigan State (7-5) bowl eligible. He made two interceptions in the Spartans' 48-31 victory over Purdue on Nov. 10. Boston College is 10-3.

Dantonio would not discuss the violation. *