Football coaches, Presidents and race

Charlie Strong, apparently breaking more historical ground in Texas than being elected President

Charlie Strong, apparently breaking historical ground in Texas more significant than being elected President

When I lived in Dayton several years ago, I lived in a nice apartment downtown. A lot of doctors and lawyers lived there. I made a friend, Alan, and we used to sit at the tables around the pool in the evening and have a few drinks and talk. One night we were joined by one of his friends, a prominent Dayton lawyer, who’d had a few more than we had and sat down to talk politics. This was during the Bush administration, before Obama was elected. This guy was a Democrat, and talked about the upcoming election. We were still in the primaries, and he was talking about how much he liked Obama. However, he made a statement saying, “I’m going to support Hillary in the primaries, because, well you know, Obama’s not going to be able to get elected. You know, because he’s black.”

I didn’t say anything, I reserved my comment. My thought though, was that I was worried about Obama getting elected, because, you know, in the words of Joe Biden, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Biden said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

Okay, that’s really just a shot at Biden, but the point is, I never considered that Obama being black would keep him from getting elected. Sure, it was historical, but I didn’t think it couldn’t happen just because he was black. I was actually worried that he was going to get elected because the Republicans had a weak candidate and Obama seemed sound and popular. It just made me wonder. Here’s a conservative, who thinks that Obama can get elected because he seemed a strong candidate. Here’s a liberal Democrat who thinks Obama can’t elected because he’s black. I was right, which proved something about America that some have yet to learn. Just makes you wonder, you know, who’s the progressive.

So, you may not be a football fan, but the University of Texas head football coach, Mack Brown, resigned at the end of the season. Texas is considered one of the premier college programs regarding football. So they were in a coaching search. The other day, they hired the coach from Louisville, Charlie Strong.

I came home from work today and turned on the TV. Frequently, it’s tuned to ESPN. The program on is “Pardon the Interruption.”  The hosts are Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. I’ve always liked Wilbon but think Kornheiser’s a goof. Anyway, the format of the show is that they run through a series of sports topics, only spending and minute or two on each one. Kornheiser is white and Wilbon is black.

So it’s on, and Kornheiser asks Wilbon what he thinks about the Texas hire. Wilbon says:

….I will tell you, though, more important to me, this is a significant, hire, an important, hire, I don’t know if it’s a successful hire yet. But for the University of Texas to hire a black head coach, shocked the hell out of me. I’m not sure if I could have been more shocked if it was anywhere, if maybe Florida, Alabama, but this is an important hire, at least in part of the culture, I applaud the University of Texas, I’m stunned, and I’m glad that the whole world isn’t as cynical about this as I was. Congratulations Charlie Strong.

Really, Wilbon? It shocked you that Texas hired a black coach? Why? Are you insulting the University of Texas? If not, who? How long have you been a sports commentator that you haven’t learned it’s about winning games? What does it take to get past this?

Charlie Strong was the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida before going to Louisville, so I don’t know why it would be beyond belief if he got hired as their head coach. Strong’s record at Louisville, overall, is 37-15, and 23-3 the last two years.

I just don’t understand why Wilbon would invoke race in this situation, and why he would be so emphatic about it. Texas wants to win games, Strong has exhibited he can coach. I mean, it’s certainly incomprehensible that Texas would hire a black head coach, I mean, that’s certainly more incomprehensible than a black man being elected President, isn’t it?

So, Wilbon, what else is it that you can’t imagine a black person being?

We must just be left with the Florida and Alabama football coaches.

That will be a historic day.