It's an undisputed fact that Hawaii offered June Jones its head coaching job. But, to borrow a term from recruiting parlance, in Jones' mind Hawaii gave him a non-committable offer.
Speaking to reporters late Friday night, the former Rainbow Warrior player, position coach and head coach said he was offered a 2-year contract, when he'd a minimum of five. Five years are necessary, Jones said, because he needs to look families in the eyes and assure them he'll still be their son's coach beyond his sophomore season -- and industry thinking backs him up on this. Jones even said he'd take the job with no buyout, so long as Hawaii puts five years on paper.
By the way: wouldn't a 5-year deal with no buyout after Year 2 be a nice compromise? Nevertheless, the biggest issue in Jones' mind was not having complete autonomy on his staff.
"I've never taken a job, then been dictated who I can hire and who I can't hire, and I don't think any coach in their right mind would accept a job under terms like that. Yeah they offered, but not acceptable for what they offered," he said.
"I've just never had (a guy) tell me that I can hire this guy and I can't hire that guy. Nobody's going to take that job."
ESPN reported Friday night that Hawaii wanted Timmy Chang in place as a head coach-in-waiting. Chang played quarterback for Jones at Hawaii, coached under him at SMU, and is now the wide receivers coach at Colorado State. Chang is, more or less, the younger version of June Jones.
But I want to go back to another thing Jones said.
"I've never taken a job, then been dictated who I can hire and who I can't hire...
"I've just never had (a guy) tell me that I can hire this guy and I can't hire that guy."
Who would Jones try to hire that Hawaii AD David Matlin would nix?
Well, after his 7-year run at SMU was complete, Jones spent a couple years of downtime on the islands before returning to professional football as the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, taking the job mid-season in 2017. Days after getting the job, Jones tried to hire Art Briles as assistant head coach for offense. The hire lasted a few hours before pressure from the public, the league and the media nixed the move. Team owner Bob Young called it a "major blunder," and later released an apology calling it a "serious mistake."
This is just me speculating here, but what if Jones tried to hire Art Briles? Or, what about Nick Rolovich, Hawaii's former head coach and a former student assistant under Jones? Keep in mind, Hawaii has a vaccine mandate similar to Washington's.
June stated on two separate occasions he was told he couldn't hire someone(s) he wanted, and who else fits that bill? What other coaches cast a shadow so large that they'd cause Jones to walk away from a job he "badly" wants? And who else is such a no-go that Hawaii would put its foot down to the extent Jones walks away, especially considering Jones' stature to within the Rainbow Warrior fan base?
On contract matters... there's room for compromise there. But on a personnel issues, there's no middle ground -- either a coach is on the staff or he's not.
Someone -- maybe Briles, maybe Rolovich, or maybe someone else entirely -- was worth AD David Matlin telling June no, and in turn, worth it to June to walk away and then tell the public about it.
One final thought: Can all coaching searches be as fascinating, as public, and as fascinatingly public as Hawaii's?