Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The NFL Isn't Only Place With Diversity Issues Among Its Football Coaches, The College Game Is Just As Bad

Head coaches in the college game have it just has hard at the next level, and sometimes harder, as Ty Willingham (l.) and Charlie Strong can attest.
Head coaches in the college game have it just has hard at the next level, and sometimes harder, as Ty Willingham (l.) and Charlie Strong can attest.
Photo: Getty

The NFL is once again trying to mask its diversity shortcomings with a “public” ploy to hoodwink and bamboozle us. But, sadly this isn’t an exclusive problem that exists at the games highest level.

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In an embarrassing Rooney Rule revision, NFL teams would have received incentives in the 3rd and 4th rounds of the draft, in exchange for hiring a minority head coach, GM, or coordinator.

The resolution, which originated with the league’s diversity committee, was tabled by the owners Monday, and will require more work before it is in shape to pass, according to NFL.com’s Judy Battista.

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Pass or no pass, the fact that there has to be incentives placed on the table to get teams to do what’s in the best interest of their franchise is where the NFL is at in 2020.

The hell with putting together a winning franchise, we want to hire this recycled coach who failed elsewhere because he fits what “we want” — even if what they want is rooted in some sort of bias and stereotyping.

But, what isn’t being talked about enough is the NFL is being allowed to act in this way in part because the levels of the game beneath them have also signed off on a culture that does not promote diversity in its coaching ranks — and that includes women candidates as well.

Which we all know is how you create a depth to the pipeline of talent that would dump off at the highest level of the game.

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Fifteen percent of Division I NCAA football programs had a black coach in 2019, and 82 percent of all coaches were white, according to the NCAA Database. And if you pull the curtain back even further, exposing the coordinator positions down to Division II and Division III grad assistants, it’s clear black and minority coaches are being shut out.

You can’t tell me that with a pro league that is over 70 percent black and a college Division I game that is 49 percent black, that there aren’t more than nine black men capable of leading a Power 5 NCAA Division I football program. For goodness sakes, that’s nine out of 65 schools.

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Charlie Strong, the former coach at the University of Texas was brought in simply to keep the seat warm until they hired who they really wanted. While Strong thrived leading the Louisville Cardinals to a 37-15 record, once he got to the Longhorns it was a different story, in part because Texas was looking beyond him to Jon Gruden or Nick Saban, which resulted in Strong being replaced when Tom Herman was available after three years.

Strong struggled in Texas, posting just a 16-21 record, but wasn’t truly able to do a rebuild before he was out the door after just three seasons, not to mention boosters were breathing down his neck his entire tenure at Texas. But his story is not unique. Ty Willingham was bounced from Notre Dame — also after just three seasons — for Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Weis would receive a 10-year contract extension in the middle of his first season with the Irish. Notre Dame was just 5-2 at the time. Willingham’s record after his first season, one in which he was named coach of the year by multiple news outlets including ESPN? 10-3. Weis’? 9-3, and that was with Willingham’s recruits —All-Americans Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija — leading the way.

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Even after Herman took over the 16-21 program after Strong, seasons haven’t ended with a different result, and it’s not because of a lack of talent. In 2018 and 2019 the program’s recruiting class was ranked 3rd by Rivals.com, behind Alabama and Georgia.

After a 10-win season in 2018 and a win in the Sugar Bowl. The program took a step back with just 7 wins in 2019. Since arriving in Texas, Herman’s record is 25-15.

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With how abysmal the stats are with minority head coaches in the NFL being roughly 12 percent — four coaches — you’d think the NCAA Division I game is doing better with 15 percent, but after digesting all of this data it is still unacceptable.

If Matt Rhule, the former head coach of Baylor and Temple University, can jump the entire NFL ranks and land a head coaching job with the Carolina Panthers, there are no excuses for these owners passing over Super Bowl winning Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who is black.

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At this point the game needs to be exposed at all levels. NFL owners aren’t solely to blame for the lack of jobs being given to black head coaches, colleges and universities are to blame as well.The entire system is to blame.

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