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June Jones rejects UH offer, still wants to be coach

Jones

The Maui News

Hopes of June Jones returning as head coach of the University of Hawaii football team took a hit after the school said that the two sides “could not come to terms” on a deal after meeting Friday.

Jones, who coached the Rainbow Warriors from 1999 to 2007, was a fan-favorite choice to take over the program after Todd Graham resigned last Friday amid controversy surrounding his treatment of players. Further necessitating a quick replacement — better yet, one who has a proven track record of winning — is national signing day, which is just weeks away. In a statement released Friday afternoon, UH athletic director David Matlin acknowledged the offer made to Jones.

“We met with Coach Jones earlier today and, unfortunately, could not come to terms with an agreement for him to be our next head football coach,” Matlin said. “I understand that there has been a lot of support for Coach Jones this past week but he has declined our offer. I respect his decision and we need to move forward in our search.

“At the end of the day we couldn’t agree on a succession plan that I felt was important for our student-athletes and supporters of Rainbow Warrior football. We are working tirelessly to get a head coach on board to lead our program and are fully aware of the sensitivity to national signing day on Feb. 2.”

However, Jones’ agent Leigh Steinberg told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser later Friday that his client still wants to coach UH and that Friday’s development was a “bump in the road.”

Steinberg said Jones was offered a two-year contract and that the proposal included the stipulation that the AD would have final say on all assistant coach hirings.

“I am still interested in this job for the people of Hawaii,” Jones said in a Twitter post Friday night, “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!

“Dictating who can be on my staff and only 2 year contract..What recruit would come if I was here for 2 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.”

With his exciting run-and-shoot offense filling the Aloha Stadium stands — and the win column –Jones oversaw the most successful era of UH football that yielded star players such as Timmy Chang, Nick Rolovich, Chad Owens and Colt Brennan.

His tenure included two Western Athletic Conference championships, the second of those titles coming in Hawaii’s 12-0 regular season in 2007 that was followed by a loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

After the season, Jones left UH to take over at SMU. He had a 76-41 record as Rainbow Warriors head coach, including six bowl appearances.

Other candidates for the UH job include Chang and former center Brian Smith, who served as UH offensive coordinator under Rolovich.

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