The Big Mac Blog

Houston’s potential Kiffin hiring a blow to minority coaches

Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has been named the new head coach at the University of Houston.
Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has been named the new head coach at the University of Houston. AP

Today is proof that Donald Trump is making America great again - Lane Kiffin has been named a head coach at a major program. Or he’s close.

Per KHOU sports in Houston, the University of Alabama offensive coordinator will be the new head coach at the University of Houston.

ESPN is reporting, however, that Houston wants to include a large buyout in the contract to prevent the next coach from leaving - call it the Tom Herman provision.

Lane Kiffin will never die. The only thing that will make me happier is to see Lane Kiffin’s Houston Cougars play Jim Mora Jr’s UCLA Bruins in the My Dad’s Name Keeps Getting Me Jobs Bowl.

If you ever wanted to know why minority candidates in college football may feel defeated or dejected about their chances of landing a big-time head coaching job, look no further than Lane Kiffin. This guy keeps living off his dad’s name and cashing six figure checks as a result despite this resume:

Oakland Raiders head coach, 2007 -’08: 5-15

University of Tennessee head coach, 2009: 7-6

USC head coach, 2010 -’ 13: 28-15

After finishing 13-5 in his first two years at USC - with former coach Pete Carroll’s players - Kiff’ went 10-8 before being fired in the middle of the 2013 season. In his “defense” he was dealing with NCAA sanctions from Carroll’s regime, but anybody who watched Kiff’s SC teams would tell you there were issues.

There is nothing about Kiffin’s resume that says he deserved to be the head coach at a place like Houston; what Kiffin does have is a famous name, which is the currency that we value more than anything else in America.

He was hired to be the QB coach/offensive coordinator at Alabama by Nick Saban in 2014 and he has cleaned up with a cast of talented players like few other teams in the country.

Working as an assistant under Saban is notoriously not easy and Kiffin is likely not a bad coach. While there were extenuating circumstances at each one of his head coaching stops, after what he did he didn’t warrant a gig like Houston.

Since 2003, and the arrival of Art Briles, Houston has consistently been a good program, and a fertile ground for up-and-coming coaches.

Briles, Kevin Sumlin and Tom Herman have all used Houston as the job to launch their careers. Houston has spent more than $100 million to invest its athletic department and the football program is a viable place to attract good players.

Per Richard Lapchick, chair of the sports business management program at the University of Central Florida, there were 13 minority head football coaches - 11 of whom are black - among the 128 FBS teams at the end of 2015.

Charlie Strong was recently fired as the head coach at Texas, and Oregon hired South Florida’s Willie Taggart to take over for the fired Mark Helfrich.

Purdue fired Darrell Hazzell, who is black, and replaced him with Western Kentucky’s Jeff Brohm, who is white.

Hiring Kiffin may work out for Houston, but this move continues the standard that a white guy with a mediocre record in several different places will get another shot while minority candidates with worthy resumes are ignored. That the white dude will be granted another opportunity at a head coaching job while man like former East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeil, who was 42-34 in six years at ECU, will never have another chance to be a head coach at a decent sized program.

That does not necessarily mean any sort of racism is at play in these decisions, but it’s a bad, and discouraging, look.

No matter, it looks like Lane is back in the game doing what he does best - cashing big checks, and reminding us that having a famous name is the best way to land a good job.

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