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Column: Either Jay Hopson is a unicorn, or black HBCU coaches are being ignored

Something very rare happened on Saturday night. For just the second time in history, a coach from a historically black college was hired by a predominately white Division I school as Southern Mississippi lured Jay Hopson from Alcorn State.
That’s great news for black college football coaches, right?
Not quite.
If you follow HBCU football, of course, you know that Hopson is white. While that doesn’t change or lessen what he did at Alcorn State, it does show that black coaches at HBCUs aren’t being taken seriously by FBS programs. 
First, lets give Hopson credit for what he did at Alcorn State. ASU had suffered five straight losing seasons when he took over in 2012. After going 4-7 his first season, the team was 28-10 his last three years in Lorman, winning the SWAC Championship in each of his final two seasons.
It’s been a great turnaround. Anyone involved with Alcorn or the SWAC will tell you that.
But let’s be honest, the SWAC isn’t the cream of the crop in the FCS. In fact, it’s closer to the bottom. The conference has never won a playoff game, and Hopson’s Alcorn State team lost to North Carolina A&T in the first-ever Celebration Bowl.
Throughout the years, other HBCU coaches have had more success than Hopson, yet they were never able to pick up a BCS job. And we’re not just talking about coaches who started their careers in a segregated world like Jake Gaither and Eddie Robinson.
William “Bill” Hayes coached at two historically black colleges from 1976 through 2003. During that period, he won 195 games at Winston-Salem State and North Carolina A&T, winning three conference titles at each school.
Billy Joe won 243 games in 33 seasons, including two NAIA championships at Central State. Never got an FBS job.
Let’s look at current coaches.
Rod Broadway has won 106 games since 2003, winning conference titles at three different schools in three different leagues. He also beat Hopson’s Alcorn team 41-34 in the Celebration Bowl. No FBS job. And he’s a North Carolina alumnus.
Brian Jenkins won 46 games in five seasons at Bethune-Cookman, getting all or a share of the MEAC title four times during that span. Instead of moving up to an FBS job, he ended up in the SWAC at Alabama State.

To this date, only former South Carolina State coach Willie Jeffries has been given a shot to coach a PWI Division I team after heading an HBCU . Jeffries was hired by Wichita State to run its program back in the late 70s before returning to SC State.

For years there has been a belief that coaching at an HBCU creates a stigma for black coaches and basically serves as a glass ceiling. Until a black coach from a black school gets a chance to run an FBS program, Hopson’s hiring only further adds fuel to that fire.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Julius Coxswain

    February 2, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    This may not be a fair analysis of the situation. Do you know for a fact the Black coaches you listed applied for FBS jobs? Do you know if those coaches turned those jobs down to stay at an HBCU? It seems like your take on the Hopson hiring and how it relates to Black coaches is based on a lot of assumptions. Hopson worked at USM for a minute and still has a relationship with influential folks in the USM community. I seriously doubt Hopson would be coaching at the FBS level if USM had not offered him a job.

    Black coaches do have it hard out here, but this Hopson situation does not illuminate how hard it is for Black coaches to come up. With all due respect, I think you are reaching.

  2. Darion Hall

    February 2, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    You have a point. Black coaches get opportunities, but not the amount they should. Jenkins at BCU is the only one listed that I can think of who actually got a job interview at an FBS school. He interviewed for the UAB job a couple of years ago. Also, Southern Miss isn't a BCS job, although it is an FBS job.

  3. HBCU Gameday

    February 2, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Rod Broadway went to North Carolina and was an assistant at several FBS schools before going to North Carolina Central. He's done more winning than Hopson, over a longer stretch of time.

  4. Unknown

    February 2, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    ECU, UNC chapel hill d-line coach. (Julius Pepers), Duke, Forida (national Champ)

  5. HBCU Gameday

    February 3, 2016 at 12:06 am

    Exactly.

  6. HBCU Coach

    February 3, 2016 at 12:45 am

    It's not a reach. The writer is exactly correct with the analysis. Of course the coaches applied for fbs jobs. You just don't get it. It's still segregation in this country and college football is leading the charge.

  7. Julius Coxswain

    February 3, 2016 at 1:39 am

    My response to all: Black coaches have it hard out here and most of them do not get the the opportunities White coaches get at the college level or the professional level. I am speaking specifically to the Hopson situation. Broadway has won a lot for a lot of years, but the Carolina job is a lot more prestigious and pays a lot more money than the USM job. If Hopson got the Gamecock job, I would agree 100 percent wwith what you are saying. I am surprised ECU did not go after Broaday, but again, I do not know if Broadway was interested in the ECU vacancy.

  8. HBCU Coach

    February 3, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Don't be surprised, its been like this for years. Louisiana Monroe, Louisiana Lafayette, and Louisiana Tech all had openings at the time Broadway was at GSU. Those jobs aren't prestigious, but they didn't pull the trigger. Why? Because Broadway was black. Brian Jenkins defeated either FIU or FAU multiple times. They didn't hire him and he is from southern Florida. Why? Because he's black. Henry Frazier turned around the worst football program in football history, He wasn't able to secure a non prestigious job. Carnell Maynor appeared in the Division 2 National Championship game. He wasn't able to secure a non prestigious job. Gambling broke all the passing records when they had Bruce Eugene, their coaches were not rewarded. Joe Taylor was sending more players to the combine than fbs schools, he never got a non prestigious job. Buddy Pugh continues tobwin games, he has no shit in a fbs non prestigious job.

    What's the difference between Hopson and these coaches? And I will leave it at that.

  9. Cajun-PowerBroker

    February 4, 2016 at 3:23 am

    Why am I not surprised. It seems they say have patience, wait, wait for your turn, but guess what our turn have not come. Look what they did, they took a white coach from a HBCU instead of a black coach with great potential. Amazing how this works and now I think maybe it will be harder for another white coach to work at another HBCU because they will figure if he has success, he will be lured away and they will have to start all over again with a new coach, be he black or white.

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