AUSTIN, Texas - Two of the highest paid employees in the state of Texas are African-American. That they are both head coaches of college football teams speaks to a complete lack of priorities, but that’s a different animal.
When Charlie Strong was introduced as the first black coach of any men’s athletic program at Texas on Monday morning in Austin it was yet another barrier busted for blacks. It’s the same one Kevin Sumlin broke when he was named the head coach at Texas A&M two years ago.
“Yes, it’s a historical day,” Strong said. “There is always going to be a first somewhere. We are going to make it good and do what we need to do to make it better. I’m just a coach.”
Strong’s hiring is a sign that a black coach can get one of the good jobs in college football. For every aspiring black assistant coach spending umpteen hours trying to move up, Strong and Sumlin are examples it can be done.
“I had a great job where I was. This is the best of the best,” Strong said. “You think of the one percent of the one percent. This is the top of the line. When you have the opportunity to go to the best you have to put your name in.”
The work is insane, the hours are unhealthy, but the top job is possible. The people making the decisions don’t care about anything other than winning (oh, and graduating ‘good kids.’).
For so long black coaches have been relegated to the “bad jobs” in college football – Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State, Bob Simmons at Oklahoma State, Matt Simon at North Texas, Joker Phillips at Kentucky, Turner Gill at Kansas, Jim Caldwell at Wake Forest, etc. (It should be noted that as a Kansas undegrad alum, Gill was a bad head coach.)
The stupid standards of evaluating and judging a coach should be the same throughout, white or black: Win all the time, never lose to your rival, sign six-star recruiting classes, etc. and basically be perfect.
“People look at it as me being a minority. I’m a football coach,” he said. “College football has changed, and everybody has welcomed the change.”
So now a state that is still often used as the punchline for racist jokes features two head African Americans who make more money than any other state employee. Too bad their respective teams will likely never play each other … but that’s a different animal.
Facebook Mac Engel