HONOLULU (KHON2) — Two of Hawaii football’s biggest names are combining forces in hopes to lead the University of Hawaii’s struggling program back to its glory days.
Former NFL star safety and University of Hawaii assistant coach Rich Miano will not seek the vacant head coaching position, and will instead support former head coach June Jones’ candidacy for the job with the intention to join the coaching staff as an assistant.
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“This is something that has been a dream of mine for the last 10, 15, 20 years that I have been involved with the University of Hawaii football program,” Miano told KHON2 Tuesday. “It was to eventually become the head coach. That being said when I found out that my mentor, the guy who gave me my chance and believed in me as a coach was going to apply I decided that I’m not going to apply, and I’m going to work for, hopefully if he’s named the head coach, June Jones and try to turn this program around.”
Miano previously coached under Jones for nine seasons before spending his final four years in the program as associate head coach under Greg McMackin. Jones and Miano combined to lead UH to its most successful run in program history, culminating in a Western Athletics Conference championship in 2007 and an appearance in the 2008 Sugar Bowl.
“He knows Hawaii, he loves Hawaii he’s like I am, and he just hates seeing the program being so down. He wants to make it better. So hopefully we’ll get a chance to help him do that,” Jones said.
Jones submitted an application to the university to become head coach Monday.
Hawaii’s football program is going through a head coaching search for the second time in two years after Todd Graham resigned Friday night following accusations of player mistreatment and a mass exodus of the roster to the transfer portal, many of which were the program’s best players and team captains.
Local high school coaches want whoever is hired to bring the program back to its local roots.
They got to get a coach that embraces the culture, understands our kids. Our program. Guy can win. Guy can coach up and just build a family with the guys that we got and build from there. Kinda like what June Jones has already done,” Mililani head coach Rod York said.
Miano is notorious for his recruiting acumen and development of a fruitful walk-on program during his time at UH, which included 2007 Heisman Trophy finalist Colt Brennan. Since his departure from UH, Miano has become a staple in Hawaii’s high school football community. He led Kaiser High School to the 2013 HHSAA Division II state championship. He helped found the Polynesian Bowl, an annual all-star game that attracts some of America’s best high school football seniors to the islands.
“Having the same standards, the same likeness, interests, beliefs, traditions, understandings, that that would help these boys to stay home. They want to stay home, they want to play in front of family, friends, relatives, and this coach where we will be if they understand that they’ll be able to keep a lot of local boys home,” Kahuku head coach Sterling Carvalho said.
Miano also co-hosts COVER2: Hawaii High School Football Weekly and ‘Bows Football Final for KHON2 as well as providing color commentary for UH football games for Spectrum Sports.
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The University of Hawaii had been paying Graham $800,000 per year, but with Graham’s resignation will not be strapped with a $1.275 million buyout for the final three years of his contract.
Jones hopes to bring back a rabid fanbase that can help fund the program.
“It’s all about scoring points and selling tickets and playing with an exciting product because you’ve got to get people to want to come watch you play and that’s what I’ve always believed in,” Jones said.