My colleague did a nice piece yesterday on ex-Colorado coach Jon Embree’s candid comments on the lack of second chances for black coaches in college football. Stephen A. Smith joined Sportscenter on Tuesday to express his views on both Embree’s comments, and the role that race plays in college football hiring and firing decisions. Here’s the complete video of what Smith had to say per our friends at CoachingSearch.com:
Let’s be real about this. I applaud Embree for saying what he said, and I agree with Stephen A. Smith’s comments about the short leash for black coaches as well, but it should be noted that Smith does not attempt to defend Embree’s record. That’s because it would be very tough for any coach to keep his job in today’s college football world with a 4-21 record in two years.
With that said, the other reality that we all need to face is that the double standard in the college football coaching world that Smith alluded to isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. These big time programs are usually run by influential boosters, and a lot of those boosters have an image in their minds of what their team’s coach is supposed to look like. More often than not, that image doesn’t look like someone like Charlie Strong, Darrell Hazell (Kent State HC), or current South Carolina DC Lorenzo Ward. That’s the biggest difference between college football and the NFL, and it goes toward explaining why the NFL has a better track record with black head coaches.
Some people ask why star black high school players sign with schools that refuse to hire and/or retain black head coaches. The answer to that is that most elite high school football players are choosing their college based on which program gives them the best chance to go to the NFL. They aren’t trying to make social justice statements, and they shouldn’t be obligated to.
Who can make a difference then? Perhaps the person that you see in the mirror. If you’re an alum of a major college football program and this issue bothers you, then maybe you need to get involved with your school’s booster club and “put a little paint where it ain’t” if you have the financial means to do so. The recent success of black coaches like Stanford’s David Shaw and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin may help, but there won’t be any real progress at a lot of these suspect programs until black coaches have more advocates in the booster clubs . #JustSayin