Monday, January 5, 2009

Black Coaches - Distinct, Nearly Extinct

When DeWayne Walker was named to head the New Mexico State football program on New Year's Eve, he became a member of a very distinct group - so distinct that it's almost extinct.

Walker became just the seventh African-American to head a Division I-A (or Bowl Subdivision) football program, out of 120. And of the seven, only one - Miami's Randy Shannon - coaches in one of the so-called BCS conferences. Do the math - six percent of DI-A coaches are black, and barely one percent (1 out of 67) in the BCS conferences plus Notre Dame.

In a sport where more than 50 percent of the athletes are minorities, this is downright atrocious.

Yet beyond the usual indignation of the hand-wringing variety, it barely raised eyebrows. Rivals.com published its top 10 college football stories of 2008 – this didn't make the list.

While the NFL has made a concerted effort to hire more minority coaches through the "Rooney Rule" - to good effect, college football has all but yawned about this glaring inequity. After the 2008 season, there have been 20 coaching changes, and just four of these head jobs went to black candidates.

It's ironic that universities, perhaps the most liberal and progressive institutions in America, are so behind the times when it comes to hiring for their most glamorous jobs. The head football coach often is the most well-known member of the university community, the de facto face of the university. While colleges aren't afraid to raid each other - or even the business world - for some of the best and brightest minority faculty members, they are reticent to take chances with the head ball coach.

This speaks volumes to just who controls the purse strings at big-time college football programs. The powers-that-be inside the ivory towers ultimately defers to the well-heeled boosters with millions to dispense with. College presidents talk a good game, but at the end, money speaks loudest.

So if you think the BCS gives college football a bad name, you should check with the BCA first.

10 comments:

Clark said...

Any football coach receiving or being denied a job based on their race is a terrible, terrible thing.

That said, I don't understand these stories. Something like this crops up at least a few times every year, and with Willingham being forced out of Washington this year I've seen it a bit more than normal.

Think about every other "scandal" that hits a college football. Players having their grades inflated, people taking tests for the football team, players being paid, recruiting violations. You name it, and there is a school out there that has been caught breaking the rules. Why? Because they want to win. Coaches, ADs, Universities, alumni, and players across the country are cheating in order to get a competitive advantage. Some of them seem to have no scruples.

Yet, at the same time, these stories circulate which imply that college football is denying non-Caucasians head coaching jobs. Is racial bigotry so wide spread and so strong that these programs, many of which will cheat to try to win, would handicap themselves by neglecting head coaching candidates?

How can we even blame "college football"? "College football" isn't a single entity, but 120 separate schools, spread through the country. They don't get along when it comes to anything else. Half the teams (non-BCS) are constantly mad at the other half (BCS).

There may be instances of racial discrimination when it comes to hiring head coaches in FBS football. I wouldn't be surprised. But there never seems to be any specific allegations, nor even any explanation of some wide spread conspiracy.

Gumbo said...

Clark, you indicated that "Willingham being FORCED out of UW this year"?
How absurd. If you are UW alumni/AD/benefactor/whatever..do you continue handing over a paycheck to a proven loser just because he's an Afr.Am? I think he probably actually FORCED himself out! Hell Clark, his cupboard is as empty at UW as the one he left behind at ND was. Those two universities are still as bare as the way he left the Stanford program. IMHO, this guy only gets HC jobs because he's an African American , and his only successes have come from playing with his predecessors players. He is a very very nice man and has drawn the respect and love of many of his players and associates also, but the bottom line is that he is a tremendously horrendus recruiter and an even worse head football coach based on his years of competition at all 3 major programs. He's 121/2 games below 500 in 14 years, having only won in double digits twice and in bowl games he's only 1-4. How can a major university in todays college football competitive arena afford to employ a proven loser of a coach like Mr Willingham. I believe that the only reason he keeps getting such prime jobs is because of an affirmative hiring philosophy. I guess now that UW has ventured out so far as to hire a totally unexperienced Armenian American, they hopefully will meet your PC objectives? I'm sick to death of this constant race card being played year in and year out. When the hell is it going to just be ok to make or break ones own career based on merits and leave the race card on the bottom of the deck.

charlie.clarke@att.net said...

It always strikes me as funny when I see the black head coaching statistic accompanied with a statistic "in a sport with 50% black atheletes." The lack of black coaches is attributed primarily to racism, but the lack of white and hispanic atheletes is not. I think both are primarily caused by many variables other than racism.

But suppose we evaluate the theory that the disparity in college coaches is due to racism in the hiring practice. That is, a coach is hired based on his overall quality minus some racial bias the selection committee has. The implication of this is that black coaches that are coaching should be of higher quality than white coaches. Thus, controlling for team they are coaching, they shold perform better. Does the BCS guru think that will be bourne out by the evidence? I'd be happy to do the statistical modeling with you, if you'll help gather the data.

Charlie

The Guru said...

Let me make a few things clear:

1. I never implied that there is discrimination or practiced racism. I am merely suggesting that there is an imbalance and procedural problem.

2. I'm not a proponent of proportionality, quotas or even affirmative action. I am comfortable with how black coaches are treated in the NFL, even though I oppose the "Rooney Rule" on principle. I believe the best person should get the job, period.

That said, I do contend that because of the non-inviting atmosphere of college hiring practices, the best black assistant coaches tend to end up in the NFL - they realize there are more opportunities.

The big issue, to me, is that out of the 67 (including Notre Dame) BCS schools, there's only one black head coach. I don't think anyone can honestly say that this isn't a serious problem. Given that over 30 percent of college assistant coaches are black, is Randy Shannon that uniquely qualified where others aren't?

Anonymous said...

So it's okay for African-Americans to dominate college football in proportion to their representative numbers in the country, but it is a major issue when not "enough" of them are head coaches? Uhhh, double standard anyone? Maybe not all of that scholarship money should be going so disproportionately to a group making up 14 percent of the American population.

Nice to base articles purely on skin color. Maybe Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, and Pete Carroll should resign since they're white. I'm sure Fitz Hill and Ty Willingham would do much better. And I have a hunch the guru, himself is white. Maybe he should turn over this website to a black person. And his B&B too, since B&B ownership among blacks is disproportionately low. (GASP!)

Charlie said...

"I don't think anyone can honestly say that this isn't a serious problem. Given that over 30 percent of college assistant coaches are black, is Randy Shannon that uniquely qualified where others aren't?"

If there isn't "discrimination or practiced racism," why is this a serious problem? How can we consider a solution without first arguing over the cause? I think the implication being made most of the time is racism, and the solutions are mostly things like the "Rooney rule" that are explicitly to deal with racism. But if the evidence doesn't bear that out, or if the guru thinks there is another cause, then what is it?

Anonymous said...

I think denying a black coach if he is "qualified" based on color is wrong. I also believe it is wrong to hire a black coach just to justify a number...7 black out of 120.

That is like the unfair hiring tactics used by government. "Well according to our statistics for hire based on percentage of the population BS BS the next person must be a black and a woman"...regardless of actual qualifications.....THIS IS WRONG. Hell the most dicriminated person in the world now is the middle class white american male.

Mars said...

I hate racist articles like this one you just wrote.

Remodeler Scott said...

Forcing a college to hire a coach based on skin color is racism. Period. Not hiring a coach based on skin color is racism. Period.

Racism is racism. It goes both ways.

Look at the success black NFL coaches have achieved. Why hasn't this translated to the college level? Who knows? I swam for Syracuse in the early 70's. We had a black swimmer on our team. You should have seen the looks on the other team when we walked on deck. Priceless.

Our football team went 10-33 the last four years. Do you think I care weather the coach is black or white or green or purple or yellow? Just so long as they win, baby.

Remodeler Scott said...

Forcing a college to hire a coach based on skin color is racism. Period. Not hiring a coach based on skin color is racism. Period.

Racism is racism. It goes both ways.

Look at the success black NFL coaches have achieved. Why hasn't this translated to the college level? Who knows? I swam for Syracuse in the early 70's. We had a black swimmer on our team. You should have seen the looks on the other team when we walked on deck. Priceless.

Our football team went 10-33 the last four years. Do you think I care weather the coach is black or white or green or purple or yellow? Just so long as they win, baby.

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