HONOLULU — After surprising Kansas by accepting the position as head coach at Georgia Dec. 18, Glen Mason played the role as the Jayhawks' lame-duck coach the entire week of their stay on the beach of Waikiki leading up to Monday's Aloha Bowl.
Every day, Mason answered questions about his decision to leave Kansas and, every day, he felt closer to the program he has led since 1988.
Then, on Sunday night, Mason had a change of heart. He would remain at Kansas.
"I have a reputation of shooting from the hip because I've always felt that a bad action is better than no action," said Mason, whose Jayhawks defeated UCLA, 51-30, to win their second Aloha Bowl in three years. "I made the decision [Sunday night] before I went to bed and I slept great."
On Monday morning, Mason first called Georgia Athletic Director Vince Dooley and told him that he could not take the job because of personal reasons.
"I'm not normally a guy that waffles in my decisions," said Mason, who reportedly will have his current contract with Kansas worth $101,000 this season redone. "But, in the week since I've taken the job, I've thought that it was in the best interest of my family and to me personally [to stay at Kansas].
"Taking both these things into consideration, I realized that if you don't have the other things in your life in order, you cannot really be a success no matter what you do professionally."
What helped Mason change his mind was a discussion he had with Kansas Chancellor Dr. Robert Hemenway, who told Mason to take his time and to weigh all the factors about staying at Kansas.
"He talked to me about some of the concerns he had about making his decision," Hemenway said. "Obviously, our conversation was private. We're simply glad that he decided to stay."
And so is Mason, who realizes that his reputation may have been damaged from his decision.
"I put myself in a very embarrassing situation," Mason said. "I just had to be honest with people and to myself. I feel bad, especially for the University of Georgia and to Coach Dooley."
The Kansas players were shocked when Mason told the team in a meeting at their hotel before leaving to play the game Monday.
"We were really surprised," sophomore defensive back Maurice Gaddie said. "We had prepared for the game with the motive of sending him off with a victory, and then it turned to winning it because he was staying."
Added Isaac Byrd, a junior wide receiver: "We were shocked, but it was a pleasant shock. [Mason] has always stressed to us to play and stay together as a team. When he first decided to leave, we understood because this is a man's game and he had to make a man's decision. But when he told us he was staying, that gave us that much more energy."
As if the underdog Jayhawks needed any added motivation against UCLA, which was a five-point favorite going into the game.
"We knew that we were going to win the game because we felt that we had a better team than UCLA," said Byrd, who caught four passes for 116 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown. "But UCLA didn't seem to think so."
Behind the play of quarterback Mark Williams, the game's most valuable player, Kansas took an early 14-0 lead and never looked back in handing the Bruins' defense their worst beating since 1970. The 51 points was the most scored against a Donahue team in his 20 years as coach.
"I was glad to play UCLA and show people that Kansas was for real," said Williams, who was recruited by UCLA out of Diablo Valley Community College before the Bruins decided that they did not need a quarterback. "We came together as a team and I'm honored to be on this team."
In Coach Terry Donahue's final game, the Bruins will remember Williams for his passing and his scrambling ability. He set the tone of the game with his accurate passing early and then his running when the Bruins attempted a comeback.
"We opened the game up passing and had them on their heels pretty much the rest of the game," said June Henley, who rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns in 13 carries. "Once we got going, it seemed like they were a little winded and we weren't."
The victory completes a 10-2 season for the Jayhawks, whose only losses came against Kansas State and Nebraska. With Mason returning, the program appears headed in the right direction.
"We won 10 games and I know not too many teams have done that this season," Mason said. "We came to Hawaii to do two things and that is to win and to have fun. And I think we did both."
* GEORGIA REGROUPS: Jim Donnan of Marshall will be the Bulldogs' new coach. C7