by John Furgele
Auburn University hired Gene Chizik to be its next head football coach after letting the highly successful Tommy Tuberville go after ten seasons. Chizik has coached at Iowa State the past two seasons, compiling a dismal 5-19 record at the Big 12 school. And, what does he get for that record? A promotion to a bigger and better name school.
Iowa State is a BCS school that plays in the top heavy Big 12 conference, but Auburn plays football in the best football conference in the land, the SEC. Why would Auburn entrust its struggling program (5-7 this year) to a guy who has had trouble winning football games the past two seasons?
Because, he’s white. Auburn sources say that Buffalo coach Turner Gill interviewed for the job, but it was determined that the white Chizik was the better candidate. Gill took over a laughingstock Buffalo program, a program that was 10-69, a program that wasn’t even winning at the 1-AA level and the past two seasons went 5-7 and 8-5, with this year’s team winning the MAC Championship Game and getting an invite to the International Bowl.
Gill is considered a hot candidate, but thus far has been passed over at schools like Syracuse, Auburn and Mississippi State. That just doesn’t make sense. Syracuse and Mississippi State hired people that have never been head coaches at the collegiate level, and Auburn hired a guy that has a 5-19 career record. Mississippi State gets a pass because Sylvester Croom, who is black, did run the team for five years, so the Bulldogs cannot be accused as being racist when it comes to its hiring practices.
Charles Barkley, who went to Auburn but we’re not sure he graduated said that the Gill was not hired because he was black. We all know that Barkley says what he feels, but I believe him on this one.
The NCAA should be ashamed of themselves for its record on minority hiring. There are 120 Division 1-A schools and just four black head coaches. Does there need to be a Rooney Rule in place? Do we have to force these schools to hire minorities? I certainly hope not, but I’m beginning to wonder.
The Good Ol’ White Boys fraternity will remain a tough one to crack. Schools are now hiring “coaches-in-waiting,” who will take over when the current head coach steps down. To me, this is another way of preventing qualified minority coaches from getting a chance to get a head coaching job. It is as if they are saying, “we are open to minority candidates, but we feel that our current defensive coordinator will be a great head coach, so we’ll make him our coach-in-waiting so he doesn’t go someplace else.”
That rule needs to be outlawed, because it offers too much protection. As for Gill, I’m sure he will say all the right things. The good part is that he has a job at Buffalo, a job he can keep if he so chooses. Give Buffalo credit for hiring him. I won’t say taking a chance because that’s a racist as what Auburn has done by hiring an unsuccessful coach like Chizik.
Gill can stay at Buffalo if he chooses, but as of right now, it doesn’t look like he will have any choices, and that just ain’t right.