Kan Li / Scout

Florida Football taking the lead in minority hiring

The University of Florida has been ahead of the curve with minority coaching hires really in all of their sports for the last couple of decades or more. An unwritten directive has made sure of that. But, Jim McElwain has taken the notion of minority hiring to a new level. And it only makes sense.

With the recent hires of Corey Bell, Brad Davis, and Ja’Juan Seider, Jim McElwain not only went with a youth movement on his football staff, he made a statement in terms of minority hiring and now has a staff made up of 70% minorities.

Hardly the norm in college football, the bump is something that others will inevitably follow given the overall numbers of minorities entering the profession.

To set the stage for the norm in the Southeastern Conference, let’s look at what the other league teams have in terms of minority full time coaches.

There are two other programs that have six minority full time coaches. Dan Mullen at Mississippi State runs one of those staffs and the other is Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M. Counting himself, the Aggies have six full time minority coaches of the ten allotted by the NCAA.

There is only one school that has five full time minority coaches of the 10 allotted. Vanderbilt, with head coach Derek Mason an African-American himself, has that distinction.

I think it should be noted that Alabama is an outlier here for the time being. The Crimson Tide under head coach Nick Saban has four minority assistants on staff including Co-Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley, but they are also still waiting to fill two spots on the staff and so their number can change.

That leaves 9 of 14 programs right now with less than a 50% minority mark on the coaching front. Georgia and Kentucky have just three minorities each on staff.

Florida’s two main in-state rivals, both from the ACC, are under the 50% mark as well. Florida State has three minority assistants while the University of Miami has five.

 In a sport that is dominated by minority players, it is astounding the lack of emphasis that seems to be put on hiring coaches that fit that same minority profile. Is it the “right thing” to do, given the number of minorities (mostly African-Americans) on college football rosters? 

I am all in favor of hiring the best coaches regardless of race, religion, or nationality, but you have to wonder, given the vast pool of applicants if some of these programs aren’t doing their due diligence in finding some of these guys that are most likely currently ‘underrated’.

The SEC, with two minority head coaches among 14 teams, is behind the Pac-12 and BIG-10, both have three. Given the climate for hiring in the past, it will take time for minority coaches to work their way up the ladder to become head coaches. With numbers rising at least to some extent at the assistant positions, minority head coaches will likely increase over time.

There are several minority offensive and defensive coordinators among the SEC and ACC teams listed above. The Gators have Randy Shannon at the helm of the defense, a former head coach himself. Chris Rumph was just promoted as Co-Defensive Coordinator as well.

Billy Gonzalez is the Co-OC at Miss. State with some play calling responsibilities. Larry Scott at Tennessee will be given his chance as OC this year.

On defense Wesley McGriff at Ole Miss is the defensive coordinator as are Mel Tucker at Georgia and Demontie Cross at Missouri. Miami has Manny Diaz as their defensive coordinator.

Like Florida six other schools have Co-coordinators that would be considered minorities. Whether it is just a title or not, at least the distinction is there for these guys to get noticed and progress in their profession, but is six enough?


Impact on recruiting?

Without going through the recruiting class of every school listed above, the Gators signed 48 players in the last two recruiting classes. Of those 48, just three are Caucasian. Maybe these numbers are a little bit higher than the norm, but not much in terms of overall minority signings throughout the south.

Aware of these numbers, it appears that Jim McElwain is making coaching moves to better reflect the environment we are in today with regards to minorities in and around the program, but it also just makes sense.

Bringing in younger African-American coaches like Brad Davis, Corey Bell, and Ja’Juan Seider should lead to a better connection with the players, but also with the prospects they are recruiting. The fact that these young coaches have made it to the big stage at the University of Florida says a lot about what their peers believe in them. There has to be a reason for that.

Time will tell whether these hires are going to work out. Relating to the players and recruits is just part of the equation. These assistants also have to be able to coach at a level good enough for Florida to compete in the SEC.

Jim McElwain gave them a chance to prove that they can, and I will bet that chance is going to pay off.

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