May 11, 2003

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Saturday he plans to protest Alabama's decision to hire Mike Shula at the state Capitol next week.

"They chose culture and legacy over excellence and it's insulting. This issue is just suggestive that the culture of racial exclusion ... is still prevalent in Alabama. It's not just in football coaches, it's in bank lending, mortgage lending, the criminal justice system. Wallace ... blocked the doors many years ago. Now you got athletic departments closing the doors."

posted by justgary to football at 12:54 AM - 13 comments

Jesse should really take a vacation. It's not because he's wrong, because he definitely has a point. If you think about it, remember his bitching about Neuheisel getting the Colorado job over Bob Simmons. (And people on this site rip Steve Lavin?) The Rev gets my apology for that one. And while this sounds bad, 'Bama needed to find a black coach for the same reason why Notre Dame decided to put aside their bullshit "reasons" for dissing Willingham on the first go-around. By spring practice in South Bend, the George O'Leary resume scam was a mere footnote to having the first black coach at the country's most visible football program. The Tide is in need of a PR boost certainly as much as Notre Dame, and Croom's qualifications peg him as something better than a "token hire". So the Shula choice jolted me a little bit, though he wouldn't be bad under just about any other circumstance. It was Alabama saying that while Croom might be the better candidate and while the school could use some good news, it wouldn't jeopardize its policy for head football coaches: No blacks. And football prospects of color should certainly keep this in mind. The problem is that Jesse doesn't realize that less is sometimes more. You don't need a protest, particularly when you probably average one a week and are risking having people tune you out. I don't know why he doesn't do what the Black Coaches Association is doing, which would be for the Rev to send a note to top prospects and tell them that SEC schools still practice racial exclusion with respect to their hiring of football coaches.

posted by jackhererra at 01:43 AM on May 11, 2003

If Jackson wants to make his point, he should do what was done for the NFL and document that black coaches who are given a head coaching chance in college have a better record than their peers but are still being denied opportunities. This particular hiring seems like a poor example. Both Croom and Shula have significant coaching experience and Alabama ties.

posted by rcade at 07:59 AM on May 11, 2003

I wish Mike Shula the best of luck with Alabama. At the same time, you don't need cross-burnings to see why Jackson should be upset: 1) Croom had more NFL coaching experience than Shula. 2) He also coached on the college level for 10 years. This is Shula's first week on a college staff. 3) Point #2 is significant, as most programs who go the NFL route want a guy with some college experience. If Shula was this whiz-bang assistant, I could see Alabama overlooking the other reasons why Croom should get the job. In fact, if he was worth HALF a shit as a coordinator in Tampa, his name would have gotten him an NFL head coaching job. That ain't the case. So while I'm not going to have a sit-in in Tuscaloosa, it is simply not true to say that this hiring is a poor example of what Jackson is talking about. Rcade makes a good point about Jesse documenting what coaches do. But it's a little easier in the NFL, where even the worst teams provide a coach an opportunity to show what can you do. In the colleges, black guys tend to get jobs that make the Arizona Cardinals look like the Niners, so it's a tough point to make when everyone's coaching New Mexico State. If you're wondering, two guys (Dennis Green and Tyrone Willingham at Stanford) got good situations and flourished. Two guys (Bobby Williams at Michigan State and John Blake at Oklahoma) totally bombed. Proving what? Not much, other than that the outcomes for white and minority coaches are about the same -- Some do well, others don't. So why should Jackson need to provide a guarantee that hiring a black coach is a free ticket into the Top 10.

posted by jackhererra at 11:50 AM on May 11, 2003

You also have to remember that the name Shula is still big in football. Now if it was any other white guy there might be more of a beef, but the fact is that the Shula name probably had much more to do with the hiring than skin color.

posted by gyc at 03:27 PM on May 11, 2003

Unless Shula's qualifications have somehow improved over the last 16-18 months, the surname wasn't that big a deal in Tuscaloosa. After pushing Mike DuBose out, Shula should have been a prime candidate if 'Bama wanted to "keep it in the family". He wasn't. The same goes for the post-Franchione search, where he probably should have been a better candidate. But he wasn't even on the short list. Suddenly, the Shula name is exactly what the Alabama program needs and it overrides any other factors, just at the same time that the best available fit -- given the timeframe -- happens to be a black former player. Apparently they figured it out in the nick of time.

posted by jackhererra at 05:38 PM on May 11, 2003

Instead of bitching and moaning, Jesse should go out and help prospective black head coaches be able to land those jobs. I used to have respect for Jackson, but lately he'll protest anything remotely racial in nature. He needs to go to Africa to help those poor souls overcome the repression they suffer under brutal dictatorships.

posted by jasonbondshow at 05:46 PM on May 11, 2003

Jackson is helping them land jobs, because he's making it harder for the good-ol'-boy network that hires coaches without considering qualified black coaches. I disagree with him on this particular example, but overall, I think some protests are needed to shake things up. Especially in the NFL, it got really ol d watching coaches like Dungy and Sherm Lewis never getting a shot while barely qualified flavor-of-the-week coordinators like Chan Gailey were hired over them.

posted by rcade at 09:13 PM on May 11, 2003

There was a time that Jackson was a well respected leader, but lately he's become more like the punch line of a joke. I don't think Jackson has a lot of pull any more, and if anything he hurt Croom's chances. He basically put Alabama in a no-win situation. If they chose Croom, it looks as if Jackson picked the coach. If they choose Shula, well, you see what happens. Jackson claimed he wasn't trying to tell Alabama who to hire, that it wasn't his place. But it's obvious who his choice was, and it's idiotic for him to claim otherwise.

posted by justgary at 03:10 AM on May 12, 2003

I wince whenever Jackson gets involved. But (a) it's best to separate the message from the messenger (though the merit of the message is up for debate); and (b) someone's got to be the "asshole" when necessary and I'd agree that he has a lot of practice. For the record, Jackson didn't say much other than that he hoped Alabama would consider a minority candidate. So he didn't exactly lean on them. And I don't buy that he ruined Croom's chances. It only looks like a Jackson-engineered hire if there were superior candidates, given the criteria. That was not the case. (And when was the last time that you could look at a situation and say, "yeah, Jesse was the power broker"? It's been a while.) The problem with Jackson's protest, as justgary points out, is that Alabama did exactly what he hoped they would do -- by the "letter" if not necessarily in spirit. I "hope" he would live to fight another day and find other ways to vent his displeasure. I think the way to go is to send a note to prospects and illustrate the way SEC schools think. If enough players go elsewhere, the message will stick. Of course, it's easier, faster and cheaper to hold a protest. It gets more publicity and Jackson apparently enjoys his voice. That's my only explanation, but it's not an effective method.

posted by jackhererra at 10:18 AM on May 12, 2003

For the record, Jackson didn't say much other than that he hoped Alabama would consider a minority candidate. So he didn't exactly lean on them. I'd have to disagree. The coaching job basically came down to Croom and Shula. Before the hire Jackson stated that: "You shouldn't get these jobs by incest and an inheritance. You should get them based upon some track record of service." It doesn't take much to figure out who he's talking about, and that leaves only Croom as his choice. To then say he's not telling Alabama who to choose rings hollow, as his remarks after the hiring proves. And I don't buy that he ruined Croom's chances. I don't think he ruined Croom's chances, but I think he hurt as much as helped. Talking to fans and listening to talk radio, Croom had plenty of support down here already. However, there was also a lot of resentment of Jackson's remarks. True, the fans don't hire a coach, but the fact that Croom had a lot of support from them was a surprise to me. Sadly, Jackson's need to be centerstage seemed to overshadow some of Croom's support.

posted by justgary at 12:47 AM on May 13, 2003

So at U of A, coaches SHOULD get these jobs by incest and inheritance? They shouldn't get them based upon some track record of service? While Jackson's statement was of the "no shit" nature, it wasn't terribly coercive. I'd agree that he specifically had Croom in mind, but the request was general -- "find me a better candidate." With no offense to Croom, that's not exactly a difficult task, though it cramped the Tide's style because it wanted an alum to get the job. That said, Jesse needed to choose when he wanted to bitch about this -- of course, he chose both.

posted by jackhererra at 01:14 PM on May 13, 2003

Jackhererra, I guess we'll just agree to disagree. I never said someone 'should' get a job by incest and inheritance. I was just pointing out that by making such a statement he was doing more than slightly nudging the university. In one sentence he picked who he wanted to win AND lose. I felt that way before the decision, and I was proven right by his actions and words after the decision. I have no problem with Jackson bringing attention to a black coach if he feels the need. But in my mind that's as far as it should go. Go further and Jackson is out of his league. "Find me a better candidate?" What in Jackson's background qualifies him to make such a judgement? Has he ever coached before? On the highschool level even? No. The only thing Jackson should worry about is if Croom got a fair shake. It would have made perfect sense for Jackson to contact Croom after the hire and ask him what happened, if he got a fair shake in his opinion. That would be logical. But Jesse is more about hearing himself talk these days than being logical, and he knows throwing around words like 'incest' will keep him in the public eye, even if the number of people who take him serious are dwindling by the day.

posted by justgary at 09:39 PM on May 13, 2003

Good discussion! I'd lend in but I shot my Alabama wad on Mike Price.

posted by vito90 at 10:14 PM on May 13, 2003

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