June Jones says he’s ready to head the Hawaii football program again.
Jones, the program’s all-time winning coach, led Hawaii to a record 76-41 over the course of nine seasons, culminating in an appearance in the program’s first-ever BCS appearance at the 2008 Sugar Bowl. went on to lose 41-10, and it was the last game Jones coached for UH.
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Fourteen years later, Jones is ready to throw his hat back in the ring following the resignation of Todd Graham last Friday.
“It’s heartbreaking to see the state of the program now and that’s why I’m interested in talking to[Hawaii Athletic Director David Matlin]and whoever makes the decisions,” Jones told KHON2 sporting director Rob DeMello. “Hopefully I get that chance to do that, but it’s a unique situation that I’ve done it once and I know I can do it again, so we’ll see what happens. Hopefully I get the chance to do that.”
After the 2008 Sugar Bowl, Jones left for SMU, where he went 36-43 and resigned during the 2014 season. Since then, he has been Kapolei’s offensive coordinator in 2016, the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL from 2017 to 2018, and the head coach of the Houston Roughnecks of the XFL in 2020.
Each time the UH football track has opened since his departure, Jones has received support from alumni and former coaches. But in 2022, the support he has received will transcend the X’s and O’s. There’s a growing sense that Jones, who turns 69 next month, is the right person to revive a program at risk.
“Obviously everyone knows what Coach Jones has done in the past with turning our program around, but I just want someone who respects the culture,” Hawaii alum and San Francisco 49ers legend Jesse Sapolu said Monday. “Someone who understands what the people of Hawaii expect from how you conduct yourself both on and off the court and on top of that, win ball games.”
Fellow Hawaii alum and NFL veteran Ma’a Tanuvasa added: “The culture aspect here is huge. Especially in Hawaii. These are the islands and we are surrounded by other major Polynesian islands around here and to get in and not understand I think you are behind as a coach. It has to be someone who understands the culture of who is here and who promotes it for the right reasons.”