The Hawai'i football program is at, arguably, its lowest point right now. Close to 20 Rainbow Warriors entered the transfer portal following a 6-7 2021 season, a number that so alarmed local leadership that the state government held an open hearing on the culture of the flagship university's football program.
The hearing, in which "(m)ore than a half-dozen current and former players and family members testified about the alleged mistreatment they endured under (Todd) Graham," took place on Jan. 8. Graham resigned a week later.
Oh, and is if that's not enough, the program does not have a permanent home, after Aloha Stadium was condemned by the local authorities.
Given all that, it's no surprise June Jones's name has surfaced for a return to the sidelines.
Jones has held a number of roles within Rainbow Warrior football over the years. He was a Rainbow Warrior quarterback in the 1970s, a quarterbacks coach in 1983, and the head coach from 1999-2007.
That 9-year run saw UH win 76 games, hit the 9-win mark six times, win two WAC titles, and post an undefeated regular season with a Sugar Bowl appearance in 2007. Hawaii's No. 19 ranking remains one of two times the program has appeared in the final AP Top 25, besting the 1992 squad's No. 20 mark.
It should also come as no surprise that Jones is interested in working for Hawaii yet again.
"It's heartbreaking to see what the condition of the program is in right now. That's why I'm interested in even talking with (AD Dave Matlin) and talking with whoever's making the decisions," Jones told KHON on Monday.
"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 get an opportunity to do that."
Jones left after the 2007 season for the SMU job. Inheriting a 1-11 team still struggling to emerge from the death penalty a decade and a half earlier, Jones went 1-11 in 2008, and then 8-5 with a Conference USA West Division championship in 2009. The Mustangs won the division again in 2010, and won bowl games in the 2011 and '12 campaigns. (Jones led SMU back to the islands for the Hawaii Bowl in 2009 and '12. He won both games.)
The bottom fell out quick, though. SMU went 5-7 in 2013, and Jones resigned after a 43-6 loss to North Texas that dropped the Mustangs to 0-2 in 2014. They would finish 1-11.
That's the last we've seen of June Jones at the FBS level, but it's not the last they saw of him in Hawaii. He worked in the Hawaii high school system in 2016-17, including as the AD at the powerhouse Saint Louis School. Jones took head coaching jobs in the Canadian Football League, the XFL, and the Spring League.
On the one hand, no candidate will have more back-of-the-hand knowledge of how to succeed at one of college football's most unique jobs. On the other, the program is in need of a serious tear down and rebuild, and is the 68-year-old Jones at a place in his career to do that, especially considering how much college football has changed since he last coached?
It's at least worth a conversation, and Jones is willing to have it.