January 10, 2013
By Kenneth Miller
Sentinel Staff Writer
The final curtain has closed on the college football season with Alabama blasting its way to a second consecutive BCS National Championship, but there were three African American coaches to make history during the final week of the season.
It all began on New Years Day in the Rose Bowl when 40-year old Stanford coach David Shaw led the Cardinals to their first Rose Bowl since 1973 piloting his team to a 20-14 victory over Wisconsin.
Shaw, a San Diego native and the son of long time NFL assistant Willie Shaw, is a two-time Pac 12 Coach of the Year and is 23-4 in two season as head coach at Stanford.
He coached his team to an upset victory over high-powered Oregon to prevent the Ducks from playing for a potential BCS National Championship. Shaw out coached Oregon’s Chip Kelly who has been wooed for head coaching jobs in the NFL.
None of the NFL team inquired about Shaw whose offense is more suited to the pro game and who was most instrumental in the success of Indianapolis Colts star rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. It was Shaw who was Luck’s offensive coordinator for three years and head coach for his Heisman Trophy runner-up senior campaign.
Not only was his Rose Bowl victory a first for a Black, but also coupled with Louisville’s Charlie Strong who led his team to a win in the Sugar Bowl, it marked the first time that two Black coaches had won BCS Bowl Games.
Strong, 52 has served as defensive coordinator with six college teams including Florida and Notre Dame and was the first Black coordinator in the SEC at South Carolina.
As a heavy under-dog to No. 3 ranked Florida, Strong’s Cardinals ran away from the Gators 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl in a game that was not as close as the final score reflected.
In three seasons at Louisville his teams have won two Bowl games and his impressive record of 28-15 has raised eyebrows around the coaching landscape, but it was Syracuse Doug Marrone with a 25-25 mediocre record at Syracuse who was selected as NFL head coach with the Buffalo Bills, not Strong. Marrone is white and his only head coaching experience has been at Syracuse.
The historical Black coaching trifecta was completed when 48-year old Kevin Sumlin led Texas A&M to a blowout win in the Cotton Bowl over Oklahoma 41-13. Sumlin led the Aggies to an 11-2 record in his first season on the job.
A one-time Texas A&M offensive coordinator, Sumlin got his first head-coaching job at the University of Houston where his high-powered offensives led to 35 wins against just 17 defeats in four seasons.
In his first year at Texas A&M he coached freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel to the Heisman Trophy, defeated coaching power Bob Stoops of Oklahoma and was the only coach to win a game against BCS National Champion coach Nick Saban.
One would think that after Eddie Robinson labored for 57 years at Grambling to become the all time winning college football coach with 408 victories and a .707 winning percentage that Black coaches would get a fair shot.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a sport where more than 50 percent of the athletes are Black, but not even one percent of the head coaches are Black.
Former Kent State coach Darrell Hazell became the fourth head coach in the long history of the Big 10 when he was selected to guide the Purdue Boilermakers for the next six years. Hazel was 11-2 in 2012 at Kent State.
Curtis Johnson Jr. is head coach at Tulsa, Garrick McGee at UAB and DeWayne Walker New Mexico State, but with the national success of Shaw, Strong and Sumlin the status quo of hiring Black coaches must go out the door.