And Then, There Were Four……..

By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: December 9, 2008

Mike Locksley

Mike Locksley

NORTH CAROLINA — Just weeks after the election of the country’s first black president, a study shows the number of African American coaches in major college football is the lowest in 15 years.

With the dismissals of Ty Willingham at Washington and Ron Prince at Kansas State and the resignation of Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State, the number of black head coaches in the 119-school members of Division I-A football is now reduced to four.

The remaining survivors are Turner Gill of Buffalo, Randy Shannon at Miami, Kevin Sumlin of Houston and Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley who just accepted the head coaching job at New Mexico.

Consider these numbers:

Over 70 percent of Division I-A players in college football are people of color. Of all the eligible BCS college football programs in the country, 53 percent of them have people of color playing for them.

In 1997, there were eight black head coaches, the most in history. In 1993, there were only three. Of the 65 coaches leading programs affiliated with the Bowl Championship Series, Miami’s Randy Shannon is about to stand alone.

Bowl season hasn’t even started, but already, some marquee jobs have come open — and, in some cases, apparently been filled.

Tennessee named Lane Kiffin, the young and still wet behind the ears coach who was recently fired from the Oakland Raiders, as Phillip Fulmer’s replacement.

Clemson announced it hired interim coach Dabo Sweeney and to add insult to injury, Charlie “Overrated” Weis, who’s team finished 6-6 after only going 3-9 a year ago was given a vote of confidence by Notre Dame.

Weis’ squad lost to all but one team with a winning record, hasn’t beat USC, has a worse record then his predecessor, Ty Willingham, hasn’t won a bowl game, and has the most losses over a two year period of any Notre Dame coach (15).

Still, he gets a pass and another year to coach the Fighting Leprechauns.

Kiffin’s claim to fame is a father who is the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a failed tenure as the Raiders coach after being fired this season by the “grim reaper”, Raiders owner, Al Davis.

Sweeney can’t even claim “fame” because he was an assistant to Tommy Bowden at Clemson and because he won a couple of games including their rivalry game against South Carolina.

Yet, he is the new Clemson Tiger head coach.

Weis is a magician capable of juggling balls and selling the Brooklyn bridge apparently because he was able to sell Notre Dame a bill of goods in getting the job and keeping it.

What do these guys have in common?

They have little or no head coaching experience but because of who they know, who they are related to and the color of their skin, they are allowed to steal jobs away from qualified black coaches like a thief swiping a women’s purse.

It’s fast, furious and seemingly under the radar.

Look at the job Ken Norton Jr., the former college and pro standout, is now doing coaching linebackers at USC or DeWayne Walker of UCLA.

The only other prominent black assistant to be mentioned so far after Locksley to the job at New Mexico is Notre Dame offensive coordinator Michael Haywood, who reportedly was interviewed by Washington to replace Willingham.

Don’t bet on him getting the job.

I know this is a discussion about the NCAA and their hiring tactics or lack there of but I wouldn’t be doing my journalistic duty if I didn’t mention the other mafia, the NFL, and their discriminatory ways of keeping African Americans out of head coaching positions.

With all the great black assistant coaches in the league like Ray Sherman in Dallas, Pepper Johnson in New England, Donnie Henderson in Jacksonville and Earnest Byner of Tennessee to name a few.

What makes them less qualified then Michael Smith of Atlanta, Jim Zorn of Washington, John Harbaugh of Baltimore and Tony Sparano in Miami. Each of these rookie coaches has been helped in many ways.

Whether its Smith getting help from a solid running back like Michael Turner, Zorn inheriting a good young quarterback and running game, Harbaugh walking in the door with a top notch veteran defense or Sparano who has a veteran quarterback, solid running game and a former head coach with Super Bowls under his belt making smart personnel decisions.

These guys may be talented and hard working first year coaches, but the only reason they are in those coaching positions is because their white skin gives them instant entitlement and opportunity.

Just look at the double standard that the NFL wants to sweep under the rug.

The Rams would rather try to sign Jim Haslett who has a 2-5 record since taking over as interim head coach. Meanwhile, the Niners’ Mike Singletary still has the interim tag on him even after an impressive win over the Jets and a 3-3 record with three games remaining.

The Browns could presumably fire Romeo Crennel after he led them to 10 wins last year and contemplate bringing back old ass Marty Schottenheimer who led them to nothing but heartbreak in the playoffs, most notably against the Broncos.

Only white coaches can be fired, ridiculed and land on their feet like Kiffin(Volunteers), Jim Mora Jr. (slated to take over in Seattle next year), Norv Turner (you pick the place) and Dick Jauron (fired by the Bears for starters).

A black coach would be tarred, feathered and sent to exile so fast that not even Sarah Palin wouldn’t see them from Russia.

These are all examples of how the mafia called the NCAA and the NFL continues to run the plantation like Jefferson Davis was in charge. But this speaks to a larger and more troubling issue that is blatantly racist in the college and professional ranks.

It’s disingenuous to insinuate blacks lack the ability and dishonest to say the field is level now just because one sport, one college or one organization hires one or two in a pool of many qualified and worthy.

Blacks certainly shouldn’t believe that Obama’s victory and new Presidency will somehow trickle down to those who harbor thoughts of superiority and entitlement over another no more than we can expect the Bush economic policy of giving to the rich will trickle down to the middle class or poor.

No, all the holding hands, singing, praying and hoping for change is not and will never be enough. The only trickle down affect is a change in someones heart, conscious and belief in fair play, justice and a realistic playing field.

Until that happens, don’t expect the number of opportunities for black coaches to get head positions in Division I-A football or the NFL to change. In fact we should expect CHANGE for the worse.