Williams Firing Had Nothing To Do With Skin Color…

SAN ANTIONIO, Texas–Michigan State has seen enough. After a 49-3 loss to Michigan, the school’s worse loss in 55 years, athletic director Ron Mason pulled the plug after Monday’s practice. SAN ANTIONIO, Texas–Michigan State has seen enough. After a 49-3 loss to Michigan, the school’s worse loss in 55 years, athletic director Ron Mason pulled the plug after Monday’s practice.

Now before Black activists stand up and start screaming that Mercer isn’t getting a fair shake, and before the Black Coaches Association makes a complete buffoonery out of this firing, everyone who is a college football fan needs to realize that this is also a ‘business’ albeit that business is about winning games.

Williams has had plenty of chances to put a winning program together since his hire in 1999. He was hired to replace then coach Nick Saban who left for Louisiana State University. The hiring of Williams was the school’s first Black head coach and he faced off against Notre Dame this year, who hired Tyrone Willingham; that school’s first Black head coach. The other two remaining Black coaches are San Jose’s Fitz Hill and New Mexico State’s Toney Samuel.

While history was made at Michigan State the fact that Williams needed to put a winning program together was the most paramount of issues. When a football team has players who are being suspended for this reason or that and a head coach who gives the quote of “I don’t know” when asked if he has lost the football team, those are telling signs that the coach is a goner; whether he be Black, White, Hispanic or whatever the ethnicity. At this level it isn’t about a skin color as much as it is about a leadership quality. The main reason why there are not that many Black coaches at this level is for this very reason that Williams was fired; leadership ability especially during tough times.

It may sound harsh but that is the reality of college sports. If you are a Black coach at a Black school or at a lesser division, the pressure for winning isn’t nearly that important as it is at the Division I level. Willingham has the Fighting Irish looking for a bowl game on New Year’s Day. If they continue to win, he will have done something that no coach since Lou Holtz had been able to do. Yet if Willingham fails in his quest over the next two seasons you can bet your last dollar that he would be gone too. For schools like Notre Dame, San Jose State, New Mexico State and Michigan State, it is the alumni association’s almighty dollar that rules the rooster’s nest. Those wins equal dollars. Williams wasn’t winning enough games and he had dissention on his team; two prime catalysts for a coach being fired.

So it isn’t so much a Black thing as it was a money thing or a confidence thing. Williams may indeed be a very good coach and hopefully he takes the buyout money and spend/invests it wisely. But don’t think that for one instant that this was a race issue. The only race involved was for a national title or at least the presence into a bowl game of some top caliber. It was the ultimate chase of the almighty dollar that cost him his job and the fact that he didn’t have command of his football team was just the icing on a cake that was already falling anyway. Mason just eased the pain by firing Williams’ before the end of the season. At least now Williams can enjoy some piece of mind along with his money before Christmas.

Gregory Moore is the Managing Editor of the San Antonio Informer, a weekly African American publication located in San Antonio, Texas.

He can be reached via e-mail at

November 4, 2002
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