It’s long been established that it’s impossible to field a superior football program in college athletics without the use of African-American talent. Here we are again with more than half of the 2017 NCAA season behind us, and the majority of the Division 1 programs that exist don’t have an African-American coach.
We’ll just start with what most of us witnessed on November 4th. During the first weekend of the calendar’s eleventh month, three of the traditionally important programs in the college football landscape took the field. The Florida Gators, who decided to move on from Jim McElwain, were led out by interim head coach Randy Shannon, who failed in his first attempt at being a head coach during his brief tenure with the Miami Hurricanes. They were subsequently pimp-slapped by the Missouri Tigers.
What we’ve recently witnessed:
If we’re all being honest, we can all agree, without emotion, that Randy Shannon doesn’t discredit any negative thought that some still have about the ability of back coaches to lead football programs at major schools. He perpetuates the idea.
So what about guys like Derek Mason (who’s actually made us talk about Vanderbilt football), Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) and James Franklin (Penn State). Have they done enough to, at least, prove that black coaches are capable and have a shot?
Those of you who are hoping Sumlin’s ride in College Station continues are probably going to be disappointed. He’s been walking the plank for a while. The boosters don’t seem to want him. Neither does the alumni. We can’t seem to have a conversation about him without discussing how much longer he has. Still, at the time of this writing, he’s gone 84-40 and 4-3 in bowl games, and he’s won and built that resume in the mighty Southeastern Conference.
Even if he leaves Texas A&M, he’s better than the majority of the coaches in the NCAA, and he deserves to coach somewhere.
Then there’s James Franklin, the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions. Even if you’re not a football fan, you know who Penn State is. You may have never heard of Joe Paterno (as impossible as that sounds to football fans), but you’ve heard of Penn State. Unfortunately, you’ve done so for the wrong reasons.
Then James Franklin came along.
Franklin took a job that most didn’t want after originally leading, of all teams, Mason’s Vanderbilt Commodores. Since he made the decision, he’s gone 32-16 (at the time of this story’s publishing). That can be included in his overall lifetime record of 56-31. Add a 3-3 bowl record to that. Oh, by the way, he also won the Big Ten’s East Division in 2016 and followed that with a victory over the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2016 Big Ten Football Championship Game. Franklin, for his efforts, was named the Dave McClain Coach of the Year in the Big Ten.
He hasn’t just changed a football program’s win-loss total. He’s changing an image and a culture. Do you still want to argue that these guys can’t coach?
We haven’t even brought up Lovie Smith, who led the Chicago Bears to a second Super Bowl appearance. Sure, he’s at Illinois, but name anyone that you’d rather have at that position.
Exposure Magazine Sports Editor
Geoffrey Knox is the creator and the owner of The Thunderstorm Hip Hop Sports & Entertainment Network, co-editor for Inside The Iggles and a contributor for Saturday Blitz. Bookmark Thunderstorm Media on BlogtalkRadio.com, iTunes, TuneIn and Stitcher. Follow him on Twitter @GQ_4_Eva, @stormradio66 @stormsports66 & @insideiggles.
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