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Stephen A. Smith: African-American head coaches don’t get as long of a leash

Posted by: Chris Vannini on November 27, 2012
While Jon Embree’s firing at Colorado came down to the lack of success over two years, college football is now down one more minority coach.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Tuesday he couldn’t defend Embree on his record, but his firing again brings to the spotlight the lack of chances minority coaches have gotten in college football.

“The reality of the situation is, let’s take a couple of things into consideration. The man lost by an average of 48-17,” Smith said on Sportscenter. “Didn’t win a home game for the first time in school history since 1920. Those things resonate. It’s hard to make the argument on his behalf, but here’s where he has a very valid point, and it’s something African-American coaches have lamented to me personally over the year.

“Dan Hawkins was his predecessor and had five years and five losing seasons. The problem that African-American coaches have that is incredibly valid is the leash that is given to those that are not of African-American descent – that have an opportunity to fail over and over again. There seems to be a degree of longevity attached to their resume’s and their tenures on specific jobs, as opposed to African-American coaches.”

Smith pointed to Gene Chizik’s hiring at Auburn, despite a 5-19 record at Iowa State. Many felt Turner Gill would have been a better selection at the time. Gill went to Kansas, and while Chizik won a national championship in 2010, both have since been dismissed at those jobs. Gill is now the head coach at Liberty.

Among African-American head coaches, only Tyrone Willingham has gotten a second chance as a head coach in FBS, and it was something Embree touched on at Monday his press conference.

“You’ve just got to be better than I was,” Embree said of minority candidates. “That’s disappointing. A lot of guys took some awful jobs before I did, so I could have this opportunity. I just hope guys like (Kevin Sumlin) and (David Shaw) keep having success and guys get more opportunities.

“I made that comment to (athletic director Mike Bohn) last night that we don’t get second chances. That’s OK. You know going into it. Tyrone did. I don’t know if there has ever been one fired that has gotten another opportunity at the college level, but every minority coach knows that going into it. Eventually, that will change.”


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