Of course they’re disappointed. But no one should be surprised that June Jones and Rich Miano did not take long to express support for Nick Rolovich, whose hiring as the new head coach of the University of Hawaii football team was announced Friday.
After all, they’re brothers in the fraternity of UH players, and they coached together during some good years. They all want the same thing: for UH football to return to relevance and prominence.
Jones and Miano were finalists for the job who received the dreaded “different direction” call Friday from athletic director David Matlin.
Many UH fans hoped Jones would be hired so he could attempt to produce a sequel to 1999 when he was hired away from the NFL and led UH to the biggest turnaround in college football history, taking a team that had gone 0-12 the previous year to 9-4. Jones, the winningest football coach in UH history, capped his time in Manoa with a 12-0 regular season ledger in 2007 and appearance in the 2008 Sugar Bowl — unprecedented heights for UH football.
Rolovich played quarterback for Jones in 2001, leading the Warriors to a 9-3 record. He also served as an assistant under Jones and later Greg McMackin.
“Rolo is one of my favorite players I have ever coached,” Jones told the Star-Advertiser’s Stephen Tsai. “He will do an outstanding job for the university and our state.”
Miano’s rise from uninvited walk-on to all conference performer to 13-year NFL safety is well-documented and part of UH lore. The former UH defensive backs coach was interim head coach when McMackin left, but was not granted an interview when Norm Chow was hired in late 2011. After a short but dramatic and successful stint at head coach at his high school alma mater, Kaiser, Miano is now color analyst for Oceanic Sports telecasts of Rainbow Warrior games.
Miano said he reached out to Rolovich today to congratulate him, and the two former colleagues on McMackin’s staff exchanged texts. (Miano said there was no discussion about any possibility of Miano joining Rolovich’s coaching staff).
Despite not getting the job, Miano remains passionate about the program.
“I guess my thoughts now are that we need to do what Nick needs and what UH needs, and that is all come together and support one another. I like to call it vertical integration, from top to bottom, starting from the governor, down to the (UH) president, to the chancellor, to the head coach,” Miano said. “When I go around the conference broadcasting games, I get a feel for the excitement of the new facilities, and how these programs are trying to place themselves in the autonomous five (“Power Five”) conferences, preparing to go big-time. The Fresno States, Colorado States, Renos. … Wow, we need to have that here in Hawaii. But everyone has to be aligned, has to realize how important it is.”
Miano said UH opening next season in Australia against Cal is “huge.”
“We’re the first-to-market there with Colin Scotts, and we’re best-to-market, too. We’re the only school with a direct flight to Sydney. “This game will help with recruiting, and not just football.”
There are many things Jones, Miano and Rolovich agree upon. One is that games against big-name opponents from Power Five conferences are not just economic necessities; they are opportunities. You never heard these guys describe them as “body bag” games … their idea was always to take the check, and win the game, and that attitude was passed on to the players; they nearly succeeded at it at Alabama in 2006.
“When you’re recruiting young men, they get excited when you tell them they’re playing a Michigan, an Ohio State,” Miano said. “When scouts evaluate players, they want to see how you play against the big-name teams. When you recruit, guys always ask you about your schedule.”