When Texas A&M moved quickly to hire Houston Texans offensive coordinator and former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman to be the Aggies’ coach, the Black Coaches Association almost immediately questioned the hire.
BCA executive director Floyd Keith criticized the move after Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne admitted that he only interviewed Sherman, who is white, and offered him the job less than 72 hours after Dennis Franchione was forced out.
“We just don’t feel that three days or a weekend provides for an inclusive opportunity for a diverse slate of candidates,” said Keith, whose organization evaluates the hiring process of university athletic departments. “It’s not about who’s hired, it’s about the process.
“I thought we had kind of gone past that, at least where people would be willing to take a little time to interview a diverse slate. This was obviously somebody pinpointed, they made the decision and the deal was made and it moves on.”
The media’s various talking heads have taken the issue and run with it, with most wondering about the value of interviewing a minority coach when the administration may already have its mind made up, setting up, in essence, the minority candidate for nothing more than a “token interview.”
While there’s certainly a large degree of insensitivity surrounding such a scenario, something has to be done.
Out of 119 Division-1 college football programs, only six are led by black head coaches. That’s an embarrassing 5 percent, made even more jarring when you consider that 55 percent of D-1 players are black.
That means something — anything — has to be done to remedy that. No doubt there are a significant number of black coaches out there who have the abilities and the credentials to lead major college programs. If that means going through the step-by-step process of considering and interviewing minority candidates in every single situation, so be it.
Consider what happened in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers over the offseason. After Bill Cowher stepped down, the safe money was that either one of two white assistant coaches — Russ Grimm or Ken Whisenhunt — would get the job. A slam dunk.
But Dan Rooney, the iconic owner of the Steelers, made sure the NFL implemented a rule that ensured teams would have to look at minority candidates for coaching and administrative jobs. And Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin got a chance to present his case to the Steelers. He wowed the front office and won the job — all because he was given a shot, however small it may have been perceived at the time.
It may not always happen that way, but current NFL coaches like Romeo Crennel and Marvin Lewis have gone on the record and said that even their interviews for jobs that weren’t offered to them helped in the long run, helping them refine and improve their interviewing techniques.
The NFL still has a long way to go as well — currently six out of the 32 teams have minority head coaches (19 percent) and five of the NFL’s 32 general managers are minorities (16 percent) — but it’s miles ahead of the NCAA.
Something unfair is going on here. It just is.
This must become a priority. Now.