Tuesday, December 8, 1998
for quick decision
He would like to know by tonightBy Paul Arnett
whether he will be the new
Hawaii head football coach
Utah's Ron McBride wants to know by tonight whether he will be offered the head football coaching job at Hawaii, which puts Rainbows athletic director Hugh Yoshida in a tight spot.
He and the committee left this morning to interview San Diego interim coach June Jones, who is still very much in the picture, according to several sources.
Yoshida and the committee met with St. Louis School coach Cal Lee and Arizona associate coach Duane Akina yesterday.
McBride met with Utah athletic director Chris Hill yesterday to discuss his current contract with the Utes. Although money wasn't an issue, the length of the deal remains a sticking point between the two.
Hill wants McBride to stay on with the Utes, but under his current contract, which still has three years left on a deal that pays $220,000 a season. McBride would like that to be extended to five years, but it doesn't appear Hill will make that commitment.
Several sources said over the weekend that McBride had positioned himself as the top choice, but no announcement is pending.
Yoshida and the committee will talk with Jones later today and then set up a meeting with USC defensive coordinator Bill Young no later than tomorrow.
Jones told his players yesterday that he is interested in the position that came open a week ago after Yoshida fired former head coach Fred vonAppen.
"Coaching in Hawaii is a personal thing, something I've always thought about doing some day," Jones told San Diego reporters yesterday. He reiterated that money had nothing to do with his decision.
"I love San Diego and the people here," he said. "But I also love Hawaii and their fans. I feel lucky to be considered for both jobs."
Jones still has an excellent chance of being named the San Diego head coach at season's end. General manager Bobby Beathard wants Jones to continue to be the Chargers' main man.
Yoshida and the three-man search committee interviewed Lee yesterday morning and met with Akina last night. Both were among the five finalists in 1995 after Bob Wagner was fired. At this point, both are reportedly in the middle of the pack.
If McBride gets the job, then Lee will almost certainly be offered a position on his staff. Tommy Lee would likely be the offensive coordinator.
"I don't go anywhere without Tommy," McBride said. "He did an outstanding job coaching our offense at Utah this season."
Akina took time off from preparing Arizona for its Holiday Bowl appearance to interview with Yoshida. Like Jones, Akina coached in Hawaii and still has strong ties from his Punahou School playing days.
Three years ago, Akina was the offensive coordinator for the Wildcats. He stepped aside when the legendary Homer Smith joined Arizona head coach Dick Tomey's staff. These days, Akina is handling the secondary for defensive coordinator Rich Ellerson.
"This is a job I've always been interested in," Akina said. "You don't get that many opportunities to be considered for a head coaching position, so it's definitely something I wanted to pursue."
Although Yoshida has said he hoped to have a new coach in place no later than Christmas, those close to the situation believe an announcement will come by the end of the week.
In addition to Jones, McBride, Akina, Young and Cal Lee, Yoshida is also considering Navy offensive coordinator Kenny Niumatalolo, and former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Larry Kennan.
Young will meet with UH officials in California. He told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday that he wasn't sure how interested Hawaii was in him, but he was willing to take another look.
"I think everybody wants to be a head football coach, but you want it to be the right opportunity," Young said.
Jones mightAssociated Press
have pick of jobs
SAN DIEGO -- Hawaii or the San Diego Chargers?
That could be the decision facing Chargers interim head coach June Jones, who was to interview today for the vacant head coaching job at the University of Hawaii. Jones played at Hawaii in 1974 and began his coaching career tutoring the Rainbows' quarterbacks in 1983.
Jones and Utah's Ron McBride reportedly are the favorites among several candidates to replace the fired Fred vonAppen. McBride interviewed Saturday. Hawaii officials will fly to San Diego to interview Jones.
If the Rainbows offer Jones the job, he'd have to decide whether to take it or wait around for the Chargers to decide, once the season ends, whether they'll drop the interim tag.
Jones believes the Chargers want him to continue on, and the Chargers are encouraged with the job he's done in the wake of the disastrous 22-game stretch under Kevin Gilbride. But team president Dean Spanos reiterated Monday that the team still intends to evaluate the situation after the season ends Dec. 21.
"We've put a lot of thought into this," said Spanos, who also indicated he wants to extend general manager Bobby Beathard's contract. "We wanted to make a complete evaluation. After 10 games, that would be a good picture."
Then again, Hawaii keeps pushing its deadline back for filling the job, first from Dec. 13 to Dec. 18, and now reportedly until Christmas.
"I think it's just a difficult situation, and an unusual one, but one that I've thought of for a long time," Jones said.
Jones was promoted from quarterbacks coach after Gilbride was fired Oct. 13. Jones said he and Beathard spoke early on about the possibility of the Hawaii job opening.
"He's been great about it," Jones said. "Certainly I hope I've done some things here that have shown we can do a job, given time. But hey, there's a whole lot of things involved and it's really probably my decision more than anybody else's decision."
It might seem like a no-brainer, trying to hang onto a higher-paying NFL job, even with a team that will have a non-winning season for the third straight year, rather than going for a job with a college program that has the nation's longest losing streak at 18 games.
But, said Jones, "If it wasn't Hawaii, we wouldn't even be talking about it.
"It's a personal thing I've wanted to do for a long time, not just the last 4-5 years, but ever since I lived there. I got married there, I had two children born there. It's like home to me, as close as a coach can have a home."
Beathard was at a scouting meeting in Tulsa and hoped to get back to San Diego and meet with Jones, "because there are some issues I think are important to June and the organization that I want to talk about. June certainly knows how we feel about him."
The Chargers are 3-4 under Jones, and fell to 5-8 overall after Sunday's 24-20 loss at Washington.
Spanos said Jones has earned a great deal of respect from everyone in the organization, and linebacker Junior Seau agreed.
"He's a guy who has probably taken the worst job in the NFL and really gained the respect of everyone in the clubhouse," Seau said yesterday.