After two seasons, Jon Embree is out at Colorado. The head coach went 4-21 at a job that was a rebuild in the midst of a major conference transition. Athletic director Mike Bohn elected to pull the plug on Embree, a guy who was clearly invested in wholeheartedly lifting his alma mater from the abyss.
If you haven't seen the presser, check it out. Embree bares his soul and pulls no punches (via CUBuffs.com):
One of those punches Embree did not pull was about his future. The coach said, "We don't get second chances" in speaking about black coaches and the odds that he gets another shot at a head coaching job.
At the big-time college football level, outside of Ty Willingham, Embree's not exactly wrong. Sylvester Croom, Karl Dorrell, Turner Gill and Randy Shannon aren't showing up on any BCS school's short list after their first gigs. So, yes, odds are Embree will not be coaching in the collegiate ranks anytime soon if history holds true.
Before you scream about how they weren't any good, pump your brakes. This is less about rehiring bad coaches and more about just how much farther the minority coach has to go to level the playing field.
It must be noted the minority coach has come a long way.
As ESPN noted prior to the start of this season, the 15 black coaches to start the year were a far cry from the five in 2008. Unlike years past, black coaches are getting hired to run programs instead of just being coordinators or recruiting specialists.
While some coaches—like DeWayne Walker, Ron English, Curtis Johnson, Ruffin McNeill and Garrick McGee—appear to be stuck in situations that will make it tough to truly elevate their stock, others—Charlie Strong, Darrell Hazell and Willie Taggart—have put themselves in a position to make the move that Embree, Croom and other black coaches have not been able to.
Writing their own ticket when it comes to reaching the next level of upper-echelon coaching gigs.
That's a major positive in the grand scheme of things, and as the quality of job improves, so too does the staying power for the coach. That is what's needed next to help increase opportunity for minority coaches on the larger scale.
We can talk about diversity and giving everyone a shot and equal opportunity; ultimately, there is still a major need for a minority coach to win at a high level for more than merely a flash. That is the big step that still must come.
Unlike jobs at Kentucky or Kansas or a bombed-out Colorado, jobs like Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee are gigs in which coaches can actually win. Kevin Sumlin, at Texas A&M, is at a school where he can win ballgames for quite some time, and that's a plus for him.
Minority coaches have come a long way, but there is still so far to go. Having "a lot" of minorities employed is one thing. Getting those coaches in a position to move into upper-echelon jobs where they can truly find success is another.
As minorities are considered for more prestigious positions, the next step is succeeding. Getting a foot in the door is a start; winning ballgames is the key to ensuring that more of those doors are opened in the future.