June Jones back on Oahu — as high school assistant?

There’s a long, storied history of well-known and accomplished coaches returning to the prep ranks to lend their wisdom to the next generation of future college and pro athletes. About a decade ago, there was a fine documentary about one of the NFL’s most recognizable sideline personalities going back and coaching kids in his hometown with a friendly neighbor, even switching to a new sport just to be involved.

Alright, further research is now indicating that was not a documentary, but the comedy “Kicking and Screaming” starring Will Ferrell and Mike Ditka. My mistake.

While these things do sometimes happen with coaches later in their careers, it’s not all that common. But Kapolei High School announced over the weekend that June Jones would be returning to coaching as the program’s new offensive coordinator.

Jones has been a topic of conversation in recent months as he had submitted his name for consideration for Hawaii’s head coaching job. There was a lot of vocal support for his return to the sidelines on Oahu, but this certainly wasn’t the capacity most were clamoring for.

Leaving Hawaii after the 2007 season, Jones had success quickly turning around SMU with four straight bowl appearances before a 5-7 record in 2013 and stepping down two games into 2014. Out of coaching since that point, Jones has let it be known that he hoped to return in a number of different capacities. Hawaii Prep World actually reported that later Saturday night, after Kapolei head coach Darren Hernandez announced the Jones hire, that Jones, himself, said he was in contact with two NFL teams last week about possible opportunities.

So while he undoubtedly sees potential in heading an offense led by young quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, Jones probably isn’t planning to be with the Hurricanes for an extended period of time. But while he is, Tagovailoa is probably as good a fit as the pass-happy Jones could hope for. As a freshman he threw at least 60 passes in a game three times and eclipsed 350 yards passing four times as the team finished 6-4.

But no matter how good a quarterback he thinks Tagovailoa is, I’m sure “high school assistant” was not the title Jones anticipated for himself. Taking over a prep program would be unusual enough for a man who has been the head coach of two NFL franchises, let alone only serving in an assistant capacity.

This story is pretty cool, but also pretty weird. It’s like if President Obama announced during Tuesday’s State of the Union that he’ll be going back to being a community organizer in Chicago when his term is up. And not even the head community organizer, but maybe just a neighborhood organizer.

Jones clearly wanted the UH job and now seems to be biding his time and remaining active locally in case that opportunity or another were to arise. Kapolei should enjoy his expertise and services while it can because he’ll probably be on to bigger and better things before long.


David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.


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