Coach Jay Hopson was announced last Monday as Alcorn State’s new head football coach. The hiring of Hopson is significant because he becomes the first white head football coach in Southwestern Athletic Conference history, a conference featuring all historically black colleges. Alcorn State President M. Christopher Brown II announced the hiring at a press conference and said, “The future for Alcorn football is bright and I am excited that Coach Hopson will lead us forward.”
Hopson has a big challenge in front of him. He takes over for the previous coach, Melvin Spears, who was fired from the school in February after compiling a 2-8 record in his only season at the helm.
“I don’t see black or white, we’re all purple and gold,” Hopson said at the introductory press conference.
Hopson has said everything right in terms of politics, but is color really not a factor? Is it that easy to avoid the discussion of a white head coach at an historically black college?
The New York Times posted an article on Sunday about how this most recent hire puts the spotlight on black coaches. In a new book entitled Crackback: How College Football Blindsides the Hopes of Black Coaches written by journalist Mark Purdy, the author interviews the former head football coach at San Jose State Fitzgerald Hill. Hill has spent over two decades fighting for more black coaches to be hired on the collegiate level at predominantly white institutions. “I’m not disappointed, it seems like HBCUs are saying, ‘We’re moving forward in the 21st century, and we hired the best coach,’ ” said Hill. “It’s a very interesting twist.”
“Are you telling me that there was not a qualified football coach anywhere in the United States of America they could have hired to lead that program?” Hill asked, referring to African-American candidates. “It’s interesting to me that Alcorn felt they couldn’t find an African-American to lead their program.”
“In my studies, people say the reason that they have not hired an African-American to lead their Division I program is because there aren’t any qualified African-American coaches,” he said. “We couldn’t find one — that’s been the story for the last 20 years. Alcorn is saying the same thing. If the majority schools can’t find any and the HBCUs can’t find any, where does the black coach go?”
So if black schools are now looking to hire non-black coaches to lead their teams and white schools don’t hire black coaches because they are not qualified, where do black coaches go?
Follow Marquise Francis on Twitter @mKfly