College Football

What’s next for Black representation in college football coaching? Key figures weigh in amid slight increase

What's next for Black representation in college football coaching? Key figures weigh in amid slight increase

Newly hired UCLA head football coach DeShaun Foster had made social media waves and January headlines by luring multi-Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy away from the NFL. This move caught the attention of many big-time offensive recruits and was hailed as an innovative move. 

But what really stood out to me was that nine of Foster’s 10 on-field position coaches were minorities.

In conjunction with CBS Sports’ ranking of Power Four coaches this week, I reached out to a handful of Black coaches — some were ranked by CBS Sports, others coach at the Group of Five level, others who are doing important work away from the spotlight — for somewhat of a State of the Union on how they think representation at big-time college football is trending. The last two coaches in CBS Sports’ rankings were Foster and Syracuse’s Fran Brown; quibble if you want, but it’s standard protocol to slot new hires last — and the most important thing is they were hired for the job. 

The 2024 coaching carousel saw progress. There were 14 Black head coaches at 133 FBS schools in 2023. Headed into the 2024 season, there will be 16 Black head coaches at 134 FBS schools (Kennesaw State is the newest addition). UCLA (Foster), Syracuse (Brown), MTSU (Derek Mason), Georgia State (Dell McGee) and Michigan (Sherrone Moore) were the schools who hired Black head coaches; the three outgoing Black head coaches were at Syracuse (Dino Babers), Michigan State (Mel Tucker) and Buffalo, where Maurice Linguist left to join the Alabama staff as a co-defensive coordinator. 

A rise in numbers is commendable, but we’re kidding ourselves if we think 12% representation is a number worth crowing about, considering how the demographics break down among FBS players

Total 5,652 8,151 2,868
Percentage 33.9 48.9 17.2

At Michigan, Moore debuted at No. 52 in CBS Sports’ coach rankings, which is the best mark a first-year coach has achieved (Moore earned that after going 4-0 as an interim coach for the Wolverines last season). 

Of coaches who CBS Sports ranked Nos. 60 through 68, five are Black (again, two of those are new hires in Foster and Brown). I don’t mind saying I disagree with the ranking of Deion Sanders at No. 61, given his body of work at Jackson State, his quick turnaround at Colorado from 1-11 to 4-8 and how he’s done getting high-quality players to Boulder, which is more than half the job of a coach….

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