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College Football: Around the Nation- Black Coaches and the BCS

Stanford Head Coach David Shaw became the first black head coach to win a BCS bowl game when he led his team to a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. A day later Charlie Strong became the second, as he led Louisville to an upset victory over No. 3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl. 

Photo by Ken Brooks

Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net

By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)

Number of black coaches is slowly improving (emphasis on ‘slowly’)

In 2003 there were only four black head coaches at the 120 programs on college football’s highest level, which was extremely embarrassing.  The NFL started to clean up their act a while back, and their numbers have greatly improved, but college football had always lagged behind. 

Since 2004 the numbers have improved, but it still shows how black coaches were locked out for so long.  Today there are 16 black coaches in Division I-A football, and 61 percent of all the minority football coaches ever hired on the FBS level have been hired in the nine years since the publication of the first Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA) Football Hiring Report Card was released. 

The report showed that college football was operating on a pre-Civil Rights era level.  College football has been played for over 140 years, but 61 percent of black coaches ever hired happened within the last nine years.  That is just embarrassing. 

Four of 16 black head coaches led teams that were ranked in the Top 25 polls.  David Shaw at Stanford, Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M, Charlie Strong at Louisville, and Darrell Hazell at Kent State led their team to winning seasons. 

Shaw became the first black head coach to win a BCS bowl game when he led Stanford to a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.  Stanford’s recent success over the past three years was attributed to former head coach Jim Harbaugh, who left two years ago for the NFL, and quarterback Andrew Luck, who was drafted into the NFL last year.  This season Stanford was without either of those guys, but they won the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1972, with Shaw running the show. 

Sumlin led Texas A&M to a blowout victory over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, and his team gave Alabama’s national championship team their only loss of the season. 

Strong waited 27 years to become a head coach, as he was a long time assistant at several schools, including the defensive coordinator for two of Florida’s national championship teams.  While Strong was waiting with his impressive resume, Lane Kiffin was able to get jobs with the Oakland Raiders, and then back in college football with Tennessee and USC. 

The day after Shaw became the first black head coach to win a BCS bowl game, Strong became the second, as he led Louisville to an upset victory over No. 3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl. 

The few black coaches that have been given the opportunity to become head coaches in college football have proven that they are worthy of the position, but that does not mean that they are now on even footing with white coaches. 

Colorado fired head coach Jon Embree, who is black, after he posted a 1-11 record this season, and a 4-21 record over his two seasons on the job.  Colorado did have grounds to fire him because of the amount of losses over two years, but before Embree was hired, Colorado had just fired head coach Dan Hawkins, who led them to five losing seasons.  Why was Hawkins given fives years, but Embree only two? 

It appears that black head coaches are still held up to a much higher standard than white coaches.  The fact that only one black head coach, Tyrone Willingham, has ever been rehired after being fired from a head coaching position, is another reason to become alarmed with the situation in college football.  Former UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell has not had another opportunity since he was fired. 

There have been improvements in college football when it comes to hiring black head coaches, but the problem is far from being solved. 

When will college football give us what we really want?

The BCS Championship Game between Alabama and Notre Dame just proved what everybody already thinks.  That college football needs a real playoff system, because it was obvious from the first quarter that Notre Dame had no business being in that game. 

As Alabama raced out to a 21-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter, and a 35-0 halftime lead, fans were feeling ripped off.  That’s because college football continues to set this game up in the polls, instead of on the field. 

The powers that be in college football have finally realized that the BCS has pretty much failed, even though they will not admit it.  So they have halfway attempted to satisfy the masses, just like they did back in 1998.

Way back then, instead of creating a playoff system with a good eight teams, they came up with the No. 1 vs. No. 2 format, which did not do much to solve the issue, because there were always arguments over who should make it into the game. 

This year was no different.  Was Alabama really better than a one loss Oregon team? 

The No. 1 vs. No. 2 format will be done away with the season after next, finally.  But instead of having the top eight teams earn their way to the title game, it will only be the top four, and the bowl games will be used as playoff games, which is a bad idea too. 

It has always been said that a playoff system would hurt the bowl system, so why use bowl games as playoff games?  Why not have the playoffs in early December, when college football pretty much shuts down?  They can have two weeks of playoffs, with the two winners going to the title game, and the losers going to bowl games.

What fan is going to travel to a bowl game when they could just wait to see if their team makes it to the title game?  That directly hurts the bowl games. 

With only the top four teams making it, it still does not address the smaller schools, such as Boise State.  Chances of non-BCS conference schools making it into the top four are slim, even if they are undefeated.  But if it is the top eight, then a smaller school could get in there and prove themselves against the big boys. 

College football has a history of ignoring the fans and logic.  When they are forced to solve a problem, they never go with what makes sense, because that would be admitting that they were wrong. 

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