SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—Black coaches in Division I-A football shrunk to an embarrassing total of three. However, we shouldn't wake up the NAACP to set up the protests because the problems that just put coach Williams on the unemployment was all his making. SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—Black coaches in Division I-A football shrunk to an embarrassing total of three. However, we shouldn't wake up the NAACP to set up the protests because the problems that just put coach Williams on the unemployment was all his making.
Williams spent a good deal in the spotlight this season, with the highlight being the coaching matchup against fellow African-American coach Tyrone Willingham, and his Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, whose upset loss to Boston College might have been a bad harbinger of things to come for coaches of color.
The Spartans were getting booed worse than any Michigan Wolverine team
ever had at Spartan Stadium, and there was unrest in East Lansing with many calling for the coach's head. With the dearth of Black coaches out on the front lines, firing one is a hard thing to do without covering up because of the ramifications and debris that will surface due to speculation on the fairness of the termination.
The season wasn't all bad for Michigan State, who saw their national rankings sky to as high as 15. Suddenly, they're staring 3-6 in the mouth, and are coming off a 49-3 loss to Michigan, which makes the lunch just go bad in the belly in East Lansing.
Tolerance for a loss to a rival might have been possible, if the program itself were not spiraling out of control at a rocket's speed pace.
Quarterback Jeff Smoker, ironic name for the situation, had been battling substance abuse problems almost the entire season, and left the team to enter into a substance abuse program to help himself. The job of the head coach is to be on top of everyone's situation.
Smoker made it through nine games with this problem, and he was the starting quarterback, the most noticeable person on any team. Noticeable, but flew under Williams' radar.
Then there was running back Dawan Moss, who was kicked off the team for being arrested and accused of dragging a police officer with his car following a traffic stop.
The first thing you probably think is, what is up with guys named Moss and their dragging city officials around the streets with their cars? But your second question is, how did the co-captain of the team get so long gone that he's dragging another human being along with his car? Defensive player Greg Taplin was suspended from the team on Thursday due to an unspecified violation as well.
The other co-captain was Smoker, by the way.
The team became a gridiron Titanic, and a few players jumped off the ship before the crash happened. That, and coach Williams' answer to the question of whether he lost his team, caused the school's athletic director to fire him almost immediately.
The answer coach Williams gave was, "I don't know", and AD Ron Mason replied, "If he wasn't sure, who was?" Mase has a good point there. If Williams wasn't losing control of the team, then they were imploding with all of their faculties in tact. Scary.
He and coach Willingham were the first Black head coaches in the history of their respective schools, and no one can take the historical magnitude away from coach Williams in this regard.
In the meantime, Bobby Williams will probably consider this a bump in the road rather than an outright failure. But as we salute Bobby's getting there, don't press Jesse's number on speed dial because this was a self-inflicted wound.
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