The Hawaii coaching situation took another strange turn on Friday.
The job opened when Todd Graham was basically fired by a public tribunal, an open hearing by the state government in which local officials and players and their parents blasted Graham's (alleged lack of) leadership.
In stepped June Jones, who publicly campaigned for the job in a manner rarely seen at the college level -- or any level, to be honest. Jones pitched himself not only as someone with a deep connection to the program, but someone who cared deeply about its well-being.
"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."
He gave a second interview in which he pitched an updated version of his famed Run-N-Shoot offense, showing he clearly put thought into his campaign for the job.
“We would be running an updated (and) improved (run-and-shoot),” Jones said in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser this week. “Every year, if you’re not improving the offense 15, 16%, you know, defenses are gaining on you. We’ve addressed a lot of things, from that time from coaching the CFL, coaching the XFL, and SMU. … You’d recognize it when we run it, but there are a lot of unique tweaks that are different.”
Sources told us Jones was a strong candidate for the job with a hire possibly imminent... and then it wasn't.
Brett McMurphy reported late Friday night (mainland time) that Jones declined an offer, and AD David Matlin confirmed it later Friday evening.
“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 there has been a lot of support for coach Jones this past week but he has declined our offer. 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.”
At 68 years old and out of the college game since 2014, Jones clearly was not a long-term solution for the program, and Matlin's statement indicates the two sides could not agree on just how long "long-term" meant. Jones wanted the job, but not on the terms Hawaii offered.
After the statement, both sides spoke to ESPN and indicated that negotiations are only mostly dead, at least in Jones' mind.
And so one of the most peculiar searches in recent memory continues.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.