Tennessee's Hire Shows Racism Is Alive and Well in College Football

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Tennessee's Hire Shows Racism Is Alive and Well in College Football
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It's the year 2010, and the statistics of black coaches in FBS football are still shameful.

One would think that in our advanced society, with a minority as President of this country, that black coaches would be afforded the same opportunities as their white counterparts.

I'm sorry to say that I do not believe that is the case.

The first and strongest indication it's not is that there are 119 FBS football programs, and as of now, less than 10 of those have black head coaches.  

As recently as last year, 92.5 percent of university presidents in the FBS were white, 87.5 percent of the athletic directors were white and 100 percent of the conference commissioners were white.

In contrast, roughly 31 percent of position coaches are black and 12 percent of coordinators were black. Out of the players in the FBS, roughly 54 percent are black.

So basically, black people are good enough to play, they are smart enough to coach a position or a side of the ball, but they aren't smart enough to coach a team?

The NFL has the "Rooney Rule," designed to create opportunities for minorities to not only get opportunities at jobs, but to gain experience in the interview process and get their name out.

College really doesn't have a rule, and by my guess, never will. Why not?

I'm thinking it may be because in college football, many decisions are still made or heavily influenced by boosters, and a very high percentage of those boosters are middle-aged or older, and white.  

In the South, that demographic doesn't seem to be overly concerned about changing the perception that racism is alive and well in the South.

Sylvester Croom was the first black head coach in the SEC and he's already been fired. There have been two black coaches at another BCS program south of the Mason-Dixon line with the exception of Miami, which is a minority-dominated city, Joker Phillips and Charlie Strong.  

In recent history, several southern schools have gone through coaching changes where very qualified black coaches were passed over for white counterparts. Auburn, Clemson and Mississippi are just a few of the examples this problem has reared its ugly head.

In every single instance, you hear some token excuse about what made the white coach more qualified, but when you look at the big picture, the details are really unnecessary.

Today, Tennessee has named Derek Dooley of Louisiana Tech as their new head coach in wake of the departure of Lane Kiffin.

It's unclear who all actually interviewed for the job, but one name for sure is Kippy Brown, the man Tennessee turned to in a time of crisis and stepped up as interim coach with the departure of Kiffin.

Dooley, son of former Georgia legend Vince Dooley, has posted an unimpressive 17-20 and Louisiana Tech, and 4-8 in the 2009 season.

Tech was 16-20 in the three seasons proceeding Dooley, so in reality he improved them a grand total of one game. In the WAC.

Dooley does get a ringing endorsement from former boss, Nick Saban, who I'm certain has Tennessee's best interest at heart when he suggests the former assistant.

Dooley's resume also boasts his successful recruiting at LSU under Saban, which could never be associated to Saban, seeing how Nick has struggled so mightily with it since Dooley's departure.

Then, you have Brown. Brown is from Sweetwater, Tenn. He grew up a Vol and was an assistant under Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer.

Brown has spent many seasons in the NFL as a position coach and one as the offensive coordinator.  Brown has held the rank of assistant head coach and tutored Andre Johnson while with the Texans.

At a time of dismay and uncertainty, when Kiffin walked away from UT, Brown stepped in as interim coach to provide stability, after being promised he'd get a real, fair shot at the job.

Over the past few days, Brown has learned what many of his counterparts learned before him. His definition of fair is different from the people making the decisions.

Today, Mike Hamilton flew two planes to Louisiana to talk to Dooley. He flew one back to interview Brown. This wasn't an interview, it was a token talk. An execution.

Hamilton's mind was made up before Brown ever had a chance to say a word, before he ever was able to make a pitch.  

Brown lacks one thing that over 90 percent of the time automatically qualifies you for being a head coach in college football, and that's being able to check the Caucasian box on the application.

Many will cite Dooley's formal head coaching experience as an advantage over Brown. I say bull-you know what. Dooley was a loser at a WAC school, Brown was .500 in the XFL. I'd say that's about a wash.

In every other aspect, Brown was superior. Did he talk like a lawyer? Probably not. Did he use big words and a ton of hair gel like a true Sabanite? Probably not.

Kippy Brown, however, loves Tennessee. Brown views UT as the place, not a place.  

In this dire situation, the University of Tennessee had a chance to show the world we are different, that we are not the "Old South."  That we will hire a man by his qualifications and not disqualify him based on the color of his skin.

Tennessee didn't seize that opportunity. Instead, the Vols are just another in a long line of schools and organizations that took a less qualified white man over a very qualified black man.

Just like Texas Tech's Ruffin McNeil after walking off the field victorious felt he'd get a fair shot, so did Brown.  Just like McNeil, Brown found out he was dreaming. At least McNeil can sleep at night knowing Texas Tech hired a coach with some success.

Brown doesn't get that sleep.

By his own admission, Mike Hamilton did not offer the job to anyone but Dooley. Whether you believe that or not is moot, that's what the man said. So the argument that UT tried to get another minority candidate is debunked by Hamilton's own admission.

This hiring is a sad reminder that racism in college football, especially in the South, is alive and well. It's sickening, and it's disheartening.  

You can try to fool yourself all you want, you can say it's not there and that it's all made up, but the numbers do not lie.

Brown, just like many of his fellow African-American coaching colleagues before him, never stood a chance. In this day and age, that makes me sick.

 

Writer's note:  Obviously, in looking over the article I let it slip my mind Joker Phillips was ascended to head coach.  Several people pointed it out in the comments, it was an oversight and my apologies for the inaccuracy.  It doesn't affect my opinion on the matter, but I wanted to acknowledge the mistake.

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