Color blind mediocrity

Gregg Doyel is a tool, but I have to admit the same thought crossed my mind when I heard the news about Skip Holtz getting another head coaching gig as this:

Skip Holtz did this to me. Skip Holtz and Louisiana Tech. When that school decided to hire Holtz on Thursday night, something in me cracked. I was reading Bruce Feldman’s news story on the hiring, but I was hearing Jon Embree’s words:

“We don’t get second chances.”

Jon Embree is African-American, and he is — or was — the football coach at Colorado. And he was speaking for the astonishing percentage of African-American football coaches who have been fired and never given another shot at running a Division I-A program.

All told, 41 African-American coaches have been hired at that level. Only one, Tyrone Willingham, has been fired and given a second chance like the one just given to Skip Holtz. Like the ones given to John L. Smith, Gerry DiNardo, Paul Pasqualoni, Hal Mumme and Ron Zook.

Yes, Jon Embree stunk on ice.  But it’s not like Skip Holtz was exactly killing it, either.

Now I don’t think this is about overt racism on the part of athletic directors.  It’s more about old-fashioned laziness, as Doyel illustrates.

And I’m willing to give Louisiana Tech the benefit of the doubt — sincerely — and state unequivocally that Skip Holtz wasn’t hired because he’s white. He was hired because he’s Skip Holtz. Because his father is Lou Holtz. Because he has a name the average college football fan will recognize, and that’s how you win the news conference at a school like Louisiana Tech. You hire a coach your fans have heard of.

Will time take care of some of this?  Sure – more minority coaches mean the recognition factor will increase over time.  The success Sumlin and Franklin enjoyed this year will help.

But in the meantime it’s pretty sad to watch Kansas throw money at a hack like Charlie Weis while Randy Shannon can’t get another head coaching job.


Filed under College Football

68 responses to “Color blind mediocrity

  1. I had the same thought when janecek got his new gig.

    When most ADs are white and you have a fan base to please, it’s probably a lot easier to hire a familiar face. I have no doubt that most folks are well intentioned, but those stats are pretty damning as to the final result.

  2. Porter Osborne Jr

    At least Holtz has won some games at ECU. All Embree did was have the worst BSC team in the land the last two year and does not deserve another shot until he proves himself at a smaller school or as a co-ordinator somewhere. Shannon on the other hand dersves a second shot somewhere.

    • gastr1

      You have to admit that as bad as they were, though, two years to fix Colorado is not nearly enough.

      • Go Dawgs!

        sadly, it’s harder to convince a Georgia fan of that.

      • Biggus Rickus

        But you have to show signs of progress. Being historically terrible in your second year is going to get you ousted anywhere.

      • Porter Osborne Jr

        Getting beaten by Sac State and averaging losing by 30 points a game is tough to earn a second year. He came into a tough situation but they were worse from year 1 to year 2.

    • Silver Creek Dawg

      Since FIU fired Mario Cristobal, I would think that’s a great fit for Randy Shannon. Right in Miami where he has credibility.

  3. Uglydawg

    Putting Embree’s personal story aside, he does make a point. Really, though, any re-tread coach that was fired for lack of results and not other “stuff” would be a questionable hire to me.
    While we’re on this subject, somebody tell me what happened to Danny Ford after Clemson canned him. Did he ever coach anywhere again? If Bobby Petrino could “bounce back”, why did DF never?

    • Normaltown Mike

      He went to Arkansas, so I’m not sure if that qualifies as an answer to “Did he ever coach anywhere again?”

    • nate

      He took Arkansas to the SEC Championship in the mid-90’s.

      • Go Dawgs!

        He made it to the 1995 SEC Championship Game with Arkansas, but he didn’t win it.

        • NRBQ

          After the Ford f-up at Clemson, someone in Georgia printed up bumper stickers poking at their IPTAY (I Pay Ten A Year alumni assoc.) program.

          It read “IPTAY – It’s Probation Time Again, Ya’ll!” Still my favorite.

          • Cojones

            Too bad it wasn’t on a t-shirt that we could give to recruits….wait…

          • tbia

            Nah, better than that was when former Clemson running back Kenny Flowers was accused of sexually assaulting a teammates mother.

            South Carolina fans printed bumper stickers…..”Don’t send Flowers to your mother.”

            Best I’ve ever seen.

          • Hogbody Spradlin

            Even earlier, in 77 or 78, stadium signs said: “Probation, A Clemson Tradition.”

  4. 81Dog

    I’m not sure this is anything shocking. People with connections to the “good old boy” network get hired. It happens in industry. It happens in college football. It happens in the City of Atlanta government. The only thing that’s different is who the “good old boys” are as you go from place to place and organization to organization.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown


    • Gravidy

      Your comment is very likely to be the most reasonable thing that will be posted on this subject.

    • James

      If this is true, it helps explain why this “inevitable” change either isn’t or is hardly happening.

    • Krautdawg

      I can’t disagree with you, but it doesn’t necessarily make the picture any better. Hiring only good ol’ boys isn’t inconsistent with the soft/indirect racism the article implies. Taking your premises and the article at face value, either (a) the good ol’ boy network consciously decides to give black coaches only one shot, or (b) the good ol’ boy network doesn’t bother to get to know black coaches.

      This isn’t meant to call you out. I like to network and one of the reasons is to be known by key people in advance. It’s just that even if we assume an ol’ boys network is making the hires–a legit assumption, I think–you can still ask why its hiring pattern is what it is.

  5. Normaltown Mike

    You wonder if college AD’s will get clued in to what the NFL has recently found: Your odds with a brand new head coach are better than even over hiring a sad-sack retread. Smitty, McCarthy & the Harbaugh bro’s can attest to that vs. Romeo Crennel, Chan Gailey, Norv Turner, Mike Shanahan (cf Belichick & Tom Coughlin)

    • Not sure the NFL has completely gotten the message, though. Heard a rumor this past week that the Cardinals might be looking at Todd Haley, who never met a player he couldn’t alienate, if they give Ken Whisenhunt the boot after this season. And even money says Norv Turner manages to land a head-coaching gig somewhere even after he gets fired in a few weeks.

      • Puffdawg

        That would free up Wisenhunt could go to GT. (h/t Stingtalk)

        • Will (the other one)

          Is that before or after the Big10 comes calling for them? (Though if they seriously want to replace Fish Fry with an NFL coach, I bet that guy up in Buffalo will be available soon…)

      • Normaltown Mike

        I heard somebody on the radio say McDaniel might be in the hunt for the HC job in Chicago. I had to pull over and vomit out the window.

    • Darrron Rovelll

      I am not so sure – I think the success of the ones that you named (Smith, McCarthy & Jim Harbaugh – you could also include Mike Tomlin that group) are that they fit a certain profile detailed here:

      However, the study notes that so many of the dominant coaches of the last few years have been “re-treads”. Belichick, Coughlin, Shanahan, Dungy were all in their 2nd head coaching jobs.

  6. georgiajeepn

    Crap they already have all the entry level food service positions wrapped up. What more can they want???

  7. Dawg in Beaumont

    I definitely see your broader point, but Randy Shannon may not be the best example due to the current allegations going on regarding Nevin Shapiro’s shenanigans down there.

    I have read quotes that Shannon was trying hard to get his program away from Shapiro, but still can’t blame any AD for being hesitant to get near the Head Coach that was around when all that mess was allegedly going on.

    • Go Dawgs!

      Yup. He certainly was a talented coordinator and he wasn’t necessarily horrible as a head coach on the field … but considering that he was a Miami lifer, the stain of the mess down there is on him whether he was actually guilty of anything or not. I’m not saying that’s right, I’m saying it’s probably the way it is. I’ve also read that he was trying to get the program away from Shapiro. I hope he’ll get another chance somewhere else.

  8. AthensHomerDawg

    Meh. Skippy has the identical record that Mike London does at Virginia and certainly has the more impressive resume. Coach London still has his job though and isn’t on the hot seat. I guess the AD there really likes him for
    some reason.

  9. If CTG got a college head coaching job or went back to the League as a coordinator, Richt should have Randy Shannon on speed dial.

  10. It’s not what you know, but who you know. Yes, I’m sure there’s been some racism involved with college coaching hires, but there are a ton of other things involved as well.

    I think as time goes by, minorities will get mixed into the cycle of repeat hires as well.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      I don’t think it is so much about racism either. It’s nice to see more doctors and dentists that are women…….
      One of my wife’s girlfriends is a dentist. My family all uses her practice. Three dentists, office staff, and a half dozen or so dental hygienists. I asked her once why there were no guys working there. She winked and said “we like to keep it all girl club.” I responded with “I see, like Augusta huh?” She said “not really,…. cause that sucks.” Hmmmm. I guess it all depends on whose ox is getting gored.

    • Slaw Dawg

      Right. It’s a lot harder, I think, to detect and kill “soft racism” than the overt kind. Since we are still socially segregated to a large extent, the people a person knows and therefore tends to hire will tend to look like that person. So if you’re a member of the minority within a given community or social setting, you’re going to have to reach a higher level of performance just to get noticed by that person. But that does seem to be changing–the “Millennial” generation seems the most color blind yet–so, yeah, over time, the quantities known to the hiring person will be from a variety of backgrounds. Which is right both morally and for increasing the odds of hiring the best person.

    • Darrron Rovelll

      So the implication is that these African-American coaches do not know anyone in order to get that 2nd HC opportunity? Why would African-American coaches as a group have bad professional networks compared to other groups?

      It is a BS argument … you have to know people just to get an assistant coaching job and about 30% of the assistant coaches in college football are African-American. That 30% is already in the system working for head coaches, AD’s, Assistant AD’s etc.

      Also, in theory, the former HC already knew someone in order to get hired in the first place.

      Randy Shannon has been coaching for 21 seasons. He was an assistant for 15 years before getting a head coaching gig. He was a head coach for 4 season and then has spent the last 2 @ TCU. His career winning % as a HC was .560.

      Skip Holtz has been coaching for 25 seasons. He was an assistant for 5 years before he got his first HC job. He stayed there for 5 seasons, then spent 5 more at SC before he got his 2nd HC job. He is now on his 3rd HC job since 2005. His career winning % is .550.

      • Basically, I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about.

        • Krautdawg

          December 17, 2012, 11:38 AM EST — Bama fan admits he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This is where, as a Georgian, a line beginning with “it took a debate on race…” belongs.

          For the record, this is a massive troll. I agree with you that soon, both terrible black coaches as well as terrible white coaches will enjoy the opportunity to ruin several football programs in a row before entering coordinator/analyst retirement.

          • Well, despite whatever arguments I prepare, I still know that potential black coaches have been given the shaft.

            I don’t believe in quotas, but to say that this will even out over time sounds kind of hollow.

      • Dawg in Beaumont

        I already posted this above, but the problem with Shannon is probably less due to the color of his skin and more due to the Nevin Shapiro mess. I know that Shannon may have been completely uninvolved with that mess, but can you understand an AD maybe being a little nervous about the cloud surrounding him at the moment?

  11. heyberto

    I’ll be glad when the issue of racial statistics isn’t brought up in job openings anymore because its just not warranted. Hire the best man for the job. But.. I doubt that will happen in my lifetime. That Randy Shannon factoid seems sad to me. Makes you wonder for sure.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      We were in Charleston visiting friends for Christmas. He is sending out resumes looking for a position as a school superintendent. I thought he being as qualified as he is it would be a slam dunk. Not so much he has informed me. Lot of districts are looking specifically for black candidates. Not officially of course but that is who they will hire.

    • Biggus Rickus

      He was canned two seasons ago. It’s not like he’s been adrift for a decade. He may very well get a job in the next go ’round.

  12. Greg

    It could be argued that the main reason that Embree was hired was because he was black. He certainly was not qualified for the job and the results proved that. This guy lost to Sacramento State and was down 48-0 with 8 minutes left in the SECOND quarter to Fresno State. He shouldn’t be the one whining about whether or not he’ll get another chance.

    As for Skip Holtz, he took an East Carolina program that was 3-22 in its last 25 games. In his 2nd year, they won 7 games and made a bowl game. In his 3rd year, they won 8 games and beat Boise State in their bowl game. In his 4th year, they won 9 games, included wins over top 20 VA Tech and top 10 WVU.

    At USF, he led them to a bowl game in his first year(2010) where they beat Clemson. Then they opened 2011 with a win at Notre Dame. It went downhill from there over the next two seasons.

    Just saying the guy is not some bum who has been a failure as a head coach every step of the way and was only hired because of his skin color and his last name. He ultimately failed at USF and is suffering the consequences, going from BCS school to non-BCS school and from Tampa to Ruston, LA. The Holtz hire at La Tech makes a he’ll of a lot more sense than the Embree hire ever did at Colorado.

    • 81Dog

      dont let actual facts get in the way of a good paternalistic meme. 😉

    • Darrron Rovelll

      Embree was not hired because he was black. Embree was hired because he and Eric Bieniemy had connections to Bill McCartney and the glory days of Colorado football. McCartney was in their corner and the athletic leadership hired them.

      He was brought in to reconstruct a program that had been through scandal and mismanagement all the way back to the Gary Barnett tenure.

      The overall leadership of the athletic department has been extremely poor. Embree was upset that he and his staff were not given more time to resurrect the program considering it took the Buffs more than 2 seasons to fall to that level. He felt that deserved more loyalty from his alma mater.

      This not to say that Embree was fired unjustly. Colorado was bad at football while he was the head coach. The staff is struggling in recruiting. Only 1 of the Top 5 recruits in the state is committed to Colorado. The #1 recruit (OL) is going to Michigan. The #2 recruit (TE) was committed to Colorado but decided to look around as this season progressed and was on the receiving end of a Paul Johnson type ultimatum from the old Buff coaching staff. So the TE decommitted and is now considering Ole Miss & Vandy. The #3 recruit (OL) is committed to TN and has remained committed despite Dooley’s firing. The #4 recruit (QB & Jack Del Rio’s son) has decided to be a walk-on at Alabama.

      • 81Dog

        so, in other words, Embree got the job because he had connections to the people who pull the strings at Colorado. He sounds like the African American Ray Goff. Just because people like you, or want you to succeed, it doesnt mean you will. That’s true no matter what color you are, isnt it?

    • Just saying the guy is not some bum who has been a failure as a head coach every step of the way and was only hired because of his skin color and his last name.

      I don’t think anyone is saying that Holtz was hired because of his race, but as for his last name, you may want to consider that with his hiring, the last three men La Tech has hired as its head coach were all sons of former head coaches. Maybe that’s just a coincidence.😉

      • Greg

        When you’re school is located in Ruston, LA, I’m sure a known coaching name helps with recruiting…even if he’s not exactly a chip off the ol’ block.

  13. Mayor of Dawgtown

    You are right, Senator. Doyel is a tool. You should have stopped there.

  14. Big Shock

    I think the issue is that an AD is going out on a limb by hiring an african american coach and an AD is going out on a limb by hiring a coach who has been fired and for an AD to do both, he’s putting his job on the line a lot more than most people are comfortable with.

  15. miamidawg

    Holtz won two conference championships with East Carolina. That program was terrible when he showed up. he has been a successful HC. So i dont know if second chance really applies here.

  16. miamidawg

    And as a Miami Fan I can tell you shannon did an awful job as a program manager. Terrible practice habits, terrible recrutiing, terrible attitudes. He was a talented DC. But didnt cut it as HC at miami. He’s really going to have to prove to some one that he can do things differently then he’s done in the past to get an HC job again because its more then just wins and losses with why shannon was canned

    • Cojones

      What was Bryce Brown’s ranking as a recruit when he went to Miami? Was Shannon there then? Thought he got the best of the crop from Miami (the city) when he was there.

      • miamidawg

        He had one good year 2008 in the city and a lot of those guys never worked out. Arthur brown was a 5 star line backer that hardly played, transferred to k state and became an all American. Not great management there.

      • miamidawg

        Bryce Brown went to Tennessee