June Jones-Hawaii reunion stalls after sides rip each other over negotiations
It has been anything but a banner last few months for Hawaii’s football program. In December, multiple Rainbow Warrior players made claims to the San Francisco Chronicle of verbal and emotional abuse by then-coach Todd Graham. A month later, Graham was brought before two Hawaii Senate committees to testify under oath about what was going on in the program.
A week after that, Graham resigned after two seasons and an 11-11 record in Manoa. The university has been looking for his replacement since, and it appeared as though a reunion with June Jones, the coach with the most wins in program history, was in line.
Both sides were still interested as recently as Friday, but then things deteriorated quickly and publicly.
MORE: Why did Todd Graham resign at Hawaii?
Jones started by tamping down the rumors about a return. He told local media that while he was still interested in the job, he couldn’t accept it as it was presented to him by athletic director David Matlin. He went into detail about the process after walking out of the negotiations; in particular, he listed stipulations with which he took particular issue.
“I’d still like the job, but I was not really offered a job that’s conducive to winning. How are you going to recruit when you’ve only got a two-year contract? I told Dave [Matlin] I’ll take a five-year contract and you can fire me anytime, no penalty,” Jones said. “How are you going to recruit when kids want to know who their coach is going to be for the next four or five years?”
MORE: Todd Graham brought before Hawaii state senate to testify about his program
Beyond the length of the contract, Jones was particularly against the notion of ceding control of personnel decisions. The Hawaii administration reportedly has a succession plan in place, and it includes Jones hiring Colorado State wideouts coach Timmy Chang, who was a star quarterback under Jones at Hawaii from 2000-04.
UPDATE: Hawaii named Chang as its new head coach Saturday night. Jones said he would “help him as much as I can” but would not join his staff.
“I’ve never taken a job that dictated who I can hire and who I can’t hire — and I don’t think any coach in their right mind would take a job like that,” he said. “They offered, but it wasn’t acceptable what they offered.”
Sources told ESPN that the school wanted Timmy Chang as the eventual successor. Jones has no issues with Chang, the former star quarterback. But Steinberg told ESPN that Jones wants full control over the staff. Jones still wants on the job but only with control over staff hiring. https://t.co/FUgH2to7ll
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) January 22, 2022
Jones, 68, led the Rainbow Warriors from 1999-07. He won two conference titles, won double-digit games three times and led the program to a top-15 ranking in his final season. Hawaii was 0-12 the season before Jones’ arrival and had lost 18 consecutive games.
As much as contract length and personnel decisions bothered Jones, he said his familiarity with the program led him to consider coming back.
“It’s not about money. It’s not about anything else other than trying to help the local kids and the people of Hawaii and the support has been unbelievable everywhere I go,” he said. “Hopefully they reconsider. It’s not like I don’t know how to turn around a program and it’s not like it’s anything different or revolutionary from when I was here before.”
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Then Hawaii’s administration responded. Through spokesman Dan Meisenzahl, it criticized Jones for his handling of the negotiations, saying it wasn’t “honest.”
UH spokesperson Dan Meisenzahl giving university’s side of June Jones head coach job negotiation: questions his integrity and character and approach to opening: “It wasn’t an honest negotiation, it was about building up enough pressure to force UH to capitulate” #HawaiiFB @KITV4 pic.twitter.com/TCmUMtj9JM
— Tom George (@TheTomGeorge) January 22, 2022
Meisenzahl says Jones walked out of the negotiations yesterday after 30 minutes and has been speaking to the media too much in this process.
“Jones showed zero integrity for this process.”
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) January 22, 2022
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Jones said he remains interested in the job but that the ball is in Hawaii’s court.
As for whether the feeling for a reunion is mutual, UH said the job was still open.
Jones said he’s still interested in the Hawaii job.
Asked if that door is still open, Meisenzahl says, “The job is still open. Time is of the essence. We’re moving forward. The job has not been filled yet.”
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) January 22, 2022
Then Hawaii hired Chang.
This article has been updated with Hawaii hiring Chang.
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