Affirmative Action Has No Business on the Football Field

RBCCorrespondent IDecember 18, 2008

Former University of Washington head football coach Tyrone Wilingham.

When Tyrone Willingham was appointed head football coach at the University of Washington, prior to the 2005 season, optimism rang throughout the Pacific Northwest. After coming off the horrible Keith Gilbertson era, it appeared that the Husky football program could go nowhere but up.
With Willingham, many people thought the program was finally back on the right track.
There were, however, many who weren't so convinced it was the right hire. Take me, for example. When I heard that Willingham was going to be the Huskies next coach, I cringed.
I knew that Willingham was going to demand discipline. That the problems which plagued the Huskies under Rick Neuheisel would not under Willingham. But I had some serious reservations about Willingham's ability to lead a program to success.
Prior to coming to Washington, Willingham was just 65-51-1 in 10 seasons at Stanford and Notre Dame. More importantly though, and the main reason I was pessimistic, was his bowl record: a very unimpressive 1-4.
Things were so bad in Willingham's final year at Notre Dame in 2004 that he wasn't even allowed to coach the team's bowl game, a game they eventually lost to Oregon State.
Four years later, all I can say is "I told you so." I had my reservations about Willingham, and I was right. In four seasons as Washington's coach, Willingham was 11-37. This past season, the Huskies finished an embarrassing 0-12. They were the only team in the Football Championship Subdivision without a single victory.
Willingham blames Neuheisel for the Huskies ineptitude. In fact, after the Huskies 16-13 double-overtime loss to in-state rival Washington State, a team which had allowed 60 or more points to four different Pac-10 opponents, he said as much.
But the reason for the Huskies failure the past four seasons wasn't because of Neuheisel, although Neuheisel certainly didn't help. No, it was because of Willingham's own personal shortcomings.
In the 48 games Willingham coached at Washington, the Huskies were outscored in the second half 37 times. Not so coincidentally, that's the same number of losses the program accumulated.
Willingham was fired because he couldn't adequately prepare his team. It didn't matter how well his team played in the first half, because most of the time, he would be so outcoached in the second half that he'd lose.
Willingham consistently failed to make the proper halftime adjustments necessary to win a ballgame in the second half. To think that Willingham was fired for any other reason than his failure to win would be absolutely asinine.
Then I flip on the television yesterday and see Charles Barkley flapping his gums about how there needs to be more black coaches in college football. How it's a disgrace that there are just FOUR black coaches in college football right now and something needs to be changed.
Then I read the following article about how this issue may be taken to a federal court.
The fact of the matter is simple. Willingham wasn't fired because he was black. He was fired because he sucks. But simply being black doesn't mean that Willingham should be given another opportunity to run another collegiate football program into the ground.
If Willingham ever gets another job coaching, it should be done because of his merits and accomplishments. Not because he's black.
The same applies for any other potential coach who happens to be black. You get the job you're given because of your accomplishments and potential. Not because your black.
I'm trying to imagine the fallout if the following situation became a reality. Let's say before the Washington Huskies hired Steve Sarkisian as their coach a few weeks ago, they interviewed with former UCLA coach Karl Dorrell.
Dorrell was a joke at UCLA and essentially got ran straight out of Pasadena. Imagine if UW President Mark Emmert sat down with Sarkisian and said, "Listen buddy. I know you're a great coach with a lot of potential. I know that you've tutored Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, John David Booty and a slew of other great USC quarterbacks.
"I know that you yourself are a former quarterback and could help this program a lot. I like you, really I do. And I would love to hire you. But I got Mr. Dorrell on line two and he wants this job because he's black and he says the NCAA needs more black coaches. I realize you're more qualified than him, and I realize that he will probably do nothing good for this program. He just doesn't show the promise you do. But my hands are tied. So...sorry man. Too bad you're white."
I'm all for giving people jobs. I'm all for giving every person, no matter what his/her skin color may be, an equal opportunity at earning a job. But when it comes down to actually making a decision between two people, said decision should be made because of qualifications, not race.
A business has to make a decision that is best for turning out a good product and making a profit. Not just so it can say it meets a quota for employees of a specific race. And it's time people like Barkley understood that.