After reportedly being close to becoming the head coach of the University of Hawaii for the second time in his career, former Hamilton Tiger-Cats bench boss June Jones has turned down a job offer from the school that he publicly lobbied for.
“So I would like to comment and give my thoughts on the Football Head Coaching job… I am still interested in this job for the people of Hawaii but the job offered to me today, there is no way I could accept with the conditions offered me… No coach in their right mind would accept!” Jones said in a tweet.
“Dictating who can be on my staff and only a two-year contract. What recruit would come if I was here for two years? This has never been about money, but it is about giving me the ability to turn our program around and not have people tell me who is on my staff or how to coach my team.”
Hawaii athletic director David Matlin issued a statement saying that the school would be moving forward with their coaching search, but school spokesperson Dan Meisenzahl went further in a media availability Saturday.
According to Billy Hull of the Honolulu Star Advertiser, Meisenzahl said Jones “showed zero integrity in this process” during a blistering critique of his public antics, bringing up serious concerns from his previous stint at the school.
“Coach Jones left in 2008 and it was a different time back then and though there were record success on the field, there were also concerns with priorities and student-athletes and acting as a de facto athletic director and chancellor,” Meisenzahl said. “He often demonstrated little interest in being accountable to his supervisor.”
Listing previous employment issues Jones had at UH and SMU, as well as a job offer retraction from Arizona State, Meisenzahl insisted that “work history matters and leadership would be foolish not to take all of that into consideration.”
Late Saturday night, the Athletics’ Bruce Feldman reported that the top job would go to Jones’ former quarterback with the Rainbow Warriors Timmy Chang. Chang was a record-setting passer at Hawaii and later spent two seasons in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He retired with two starts to his credit, going 42-of-90 passing for 467 yards, a touchdown and seven interceptions.
Jones was originally hired by Hawaii in 1999 and following a 12-1 season in 2007, which ended with an appearance in the Sugar Bowl, he left for the top job at Southern Methodist University. He served as the offensive coordinator at Kapolei High School in Honolulu during the 2016 season.
Jones took over an 0-8 Hamilton Tiger-Cats team in 2017 and led them to six wins in their final 10 games, then guided the Ticats to an 8-10 record in 2018. The Tiger-Cats finished second in the East and reached the division final before losing to Ottawa. He stepped aside in December 2018 to allow Orlondo Steinauer to take over the head coach role in Hamilton.
The 68-year-old has 13 seasons of NFL coaching experience and 16 years at the NCAA level. He served as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 1994-1996 and was the interim head coach of the San Diego Chargers in 1998. He last served as head coach of the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks.
Jones public lobbying for a return to the University of Hawaii began when Todd Graham resigned as head football coach on Friday, January 14. Graham was hired in January 2020 and had just completed the second of a five-year contract. He was 11-11 in two seasons with the Rainbow Warriors.
“I’m saddened to see the program in the condition it’s in, which is probably worse than it was when I came in 1999,” Jones told Hawaii News Now. “It’s gonna take a special turnaround, a special group of guys getting it turned around. It’s not impossible, but it’s gonna be hard.”