When the FBS regular season came to an end there were 20 openings for head football coaching jobs. Out of those 20 openings, only three were filled by minority candidates. However, even that number isn’t what it seems. Willie Taggart, an African American, left Oregon to replace Jimbo Fisher at Florida State, but was replaced at Oregon by Mario Cristobal, who is of Cuban descent. The only hiring, so far, that had a minority candidate replace a white head coach was at Arizona State. The Sun Devils hired former NFL head coach Herm Edwards to replace Todd Graham. For as many head coaching jobs as there are in the FBS division, the percentage of minority head coaches is still too low.
Minority Head Football Coaches
There are 130 FBS football programs in the nation. Out of those 130 jobs, only 18 of them are held by minority coaches. Although that is more than there were 20 years ago, that is still a very low number in today’s world. When taking a look at this issue, the first question that must be asked is if there are minority candidates out there that should be looked at for head coaching opportunities. The answer is simple and straight forward, yes, there are candidates that should have the opportunity to lead a program.
Existing Coaches That Have Shown They are ready to Move Up
For some athletic directors that are looking to fill their head football coaching vacancies they want candidates that have a track record in leading a program. In the case of minority candidates, there are several that have led lower tiered programs and have established success. Here are a couple that have proven they can win at the FBS level.
Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
Niumatalolo, who is an American Samoan, has been the head coach at Navy since 2007. During that time, he has led the Midshipmen to an very impressive 83-47 overall record. During that time span, Navy has reached a bowl game 9 different times. One of the biggest reasons Niumatalolo hasn’t been hired by a Power 5 program might be because Navy runs a triple option offense. Although Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson has had success running that offense, many athletic directors might feel that type of offense isn’t what an 18 year kid wants to play in, in today’s college football landscape. Still, no matter the offense he would run if given the chance, Niumatalolo has shown he can lead a program and be successful doing so.
Charlie Strong, South Florida
The first thing people will bring up when it comes to Charlie Strong is his lack of success as head coach at Texas. However, current Texas head coach Tom Herman quickly learned this season, it isn’t as easy as one might think to win at Texas. The Longhorns went 6-6 this season. Strong was very successful before his stint in Austin, going 37-15 leading the Louisville program, which includes going 12-1 in his last season at Louisville. In his first season at South Florida, Strong led them to a 9-2 record. Strong might have failed at Texas, but it appears he has rebounded from that experience and no doubt had earned another chance at a Power 5 program.
Offensive Coordinators That Are Ready to Make the Jump
In today’s college football it appears that the best way to build your program is by having a high power offense. There are several minority offensive coordinators that have been a part of successful offenses that should be getting a look at head coaching positions.
Troy Walters, Central Florida/Nebraska
This past season, Central Florida’s Scott Frost led the Knights to a perfect 12-0 record. One of the biggest reasons the Knights were so successful was because of their offense, which was coordinated by Troy Walters. Under Walters’s guidance, Central Florida finished fifth in total offense. The son of a former NFL assistant, Walters has worked his way up the ladder. He spent six years as an assistant at four different universities before he landed the offensive coordinator position at Central Florida. It was reported that Walters interviewed for the Central Florida job after Frost left for Nebraska. The job went to Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. His Missouri offense finished three spots behind Walters’s offense in total offense stats. It was reported that Walters would join Frost in Lincoln and become the Huskers offensive coordinator.
Tony Elliott, Clemson
Elliott has been the co-offensive coordinator for Clemson since 2015. Elliott had that position last season when Clemson won the National Championship over Alabama. While helping coordinate the Tigers offense, he developed Deshaun Watson into a first round draft pick. This past season, Clemson finished 31st in total offense. The Tigers have been successful and Elliott has been a big part of that success, however, he hasn’t earned any interviews for head coaching positions.
Tee Martin, USC
You would have thought after the University of Tennessee totally botched their search for a new football head coach that Tee Martin would have gotten a look. The current athletic director, Phillip Fulmer, was the head coach of Tennessee when Martin led them to their last national championship. Along with playing for Fulmer, Martin has worked his way up the coaching ladder. He has been an assistant coach since 2006 and the offensive coordinator for USC the past two seasons. But Martin was passed over, with the Tennessee job going to Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Martin has paid his dues and the USC’s offense has been successful with him as the offensive coordinator, which should earn him a chance to lead a program.
Options on the Defensive Side of the Ball
College football doesn’t play much defense, but the teams that do, they usually end up being successful. The old saying is “defense wins football games.” For those programs that feel the same way, there are minority candidates that give you that option.
Mel Tucker, Georgia
It was reported that Tennessee interviewed Tucker for their head coaching position, something that shouldn’t surprise most people. Tucker is Georgia’s current defensive coordinator and helped guide them to fourth in total defense this past season. Tucker has been a part of several successful college programs, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, and Alabama. Along with his college experience, Tucker has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL. Although he didn’t get the Tennessee job, if Georgia continues being successful, there is no doubt that he should get more interviews for head coaching jobs.
Manny Diaz, Miami
Diaz might be just 43 years old, he has been an assistant since 1998. He has been the Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator under head coach Mark Richt the past two seasons and has brought some defense back to the “U”. Diaz is energetic and has one of the brighter defensive minds in college football. He has helped bring the Miami program back to prominence and should have a chance to become a head coach.
Minority candidates face an uphill climb when it comes to head coaching jobs in college football. The NCAA doesn’t have the “Rooney Rule”, something that would help with minority candidates getting interviews they would normally not receive. The list above is just a small sample of minority candidates that have earned the right to be interviewed. It is hard to believe in today’s world that there are only 18 minority FBS football head coaches. The candidates are there, but still, athletic directors aren’t giving them the opportunity. It might take something like the “Rooney Rule” to get things going. Until that happens, minority candidates will have to keep fighting to get their chance.