A SWAC football coach made history just two days into Black History Month.
Former Alcorn State coach Jay Hopson was recently named head coach at Southern Miss.
Hopson became the first SWAC head coach to make the jump from the historically black conference to head coach at an FBS school.
It’s hard to ignore that Hopson accomplished this feat after ironically being the first white head coach to be hired by a SWAC school.
While Hopson’s resume is impressive, leading the once doormat Braves to two SWAC championships, an SBN Black National Championship and a berth in the first-ever Celebration Bowl over four seasons, it is easy to wonder whether a black coach with the same resume would have received a similar opportunity.
Doug Williams, Eddie Robinson, Rod Broadway, James Carson and Pete Richardson all, at one point, dominated the SWAC yet were unable to flip those triumphs into head coaching jobs at Division I schools.
These successful black coaches were more accomplished than Hopson has ever been during his tenure at Alcorn.
But those men did not look like Jay Hopson.
White America was just not ready for a black man to have all that power.
Examining the current state of diversity within the FBS coaching ranks, much hasn’t changed.
The football coach, regardless of the school with the exception of a few, is the face of the university. That guy, by default, becomes the most influential and powerful person on campus.
It is noble progressive for progressives to want schools to hire the best man for the job regardless of his race.
But image, and who represents the football team, matters occasionally more than winning to deep-pocketed boosters and influential individuals associated with the school.
The man holding the whistle and clipboard ultimately represents them, their ideals and values matters.
And it is why black coaches don’t get hired at FBS schools with all things being equal. Some FBS schools don’t want a black man to represent them even if he’s qualified.
There was a divide in the room when Hopson’s name came up as candidate at Alcorn in 2012 because of that very premise.
And there were a lot of alums, and folks elsewhere, who questioned why this white man — whose privilege has historically lied in his skin color — was hired over a black candidate.
A black candidate who has had to historically overcome his skin color to gain the opportunities the privileged white guy has gotten.