June Jones says he’s ready to lead the Hawaii football program once again.
Jones, the program’s all-time winningest coach, guided Hawaii to a 76-41 record over the course of nine seasons, culminating with an appearance in the program’s first-ever BCS appearance at the 2008 Sugar Bowl. Hawaii ended up losing 41-10, and it was the final game Jones coached for UH.
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Fourteen years later, Jones is willing to throw his hat in the ring again following the resignation of Todd Graham last Friday.
“It’s heartbreaking to see the condition of the program is right now and that’s why I’m interested in even talking with (Hawaii athletics director David Matlin) and with talking to whoever is making the decisions,” Jones told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “Hopefully, I get that opportunity to do that, but it’s a unique situation that I’ve done one time and I know I can do it again so we’ll see what happens. Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to do that.”
Following the 2008 Sugar Bowl, Jones departed for SMU, where he went 36-43 and resigned during the 2014 season. Since then, he’s served as Kapolei’s offensive coordinator in 2016, the head coach for the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 2017 to 2018 and the head coach for the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks in 2020.
Jones has gained support from alumni and former coaches each time the UH football job has opened since his departure. But in 2022, the backing he’s received transcends the X’s and O’s. There’s a growing sentiment that Jones, who turns 69 next month, is the right person to revive a program in peril.
“Obviously, everybody knows what coach Jones has done historically with the turning around of our program but I just want someone that respects the culture,” Hawaii alum and San Francisco 49ers legend Jesse Sapolu said on Monday. “Someone that understands what the Hawaii people expect at how you carry yourself both on and off the field and then win ball games on top of that.”
Added fellow Hawaii alum and NFL veteran Ma’a Tanuvasa: “The culture aspect is huge here. Especially being in Hawaii. These are the islands and we’re surrounded by other great Polynesian islands around here and to come in and not understand it, I think it puts you behind as a coach. It’s got to be someone who understands the culture of who’s here and who is promoting it for the right reasons.”