Gators Assistant Says Racism Has Stalled His Career

Let's count the ways that Charles Barkley, as usual, is the wisest guy in the room. No, Riptide isn't applauding his DUI arrest a couple of days ago in Arizona. That was no good.

We're talking about his outraged and much-argued assertion last month that his alma matter, Auburn, hired Iowa State coach Gene Chizik -- and his craptastic 5-19 record -- over Buffalo's Turner Gill, who has gone 8-5 at one of the nation's historically worst programs, because Chizik is white and Gill is black.

Today, Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong piled on the NCAA's troubled record of hiring black head coaches, telling the Orlando Sentinel he has been passed over for head coaching jobs because he's black and he's married to a white woman.

Speaking in Miami before the national title game against Oklahoma next week, Strong says he has never been offered a head coaching gig, despite 25 years as a coach and a sparkling resumé as defensive coordinator at a perennial contender. Why?

"Everybody always said I didn't get that job because my wife is

white," Strong told the Sentinel, referring to one job he interviewed for at a Southern school. "If you think about it, a coach is standing up there representing

the university. If you're not strong enough to look through [interracial marriage], then you have an issue."

We can argue all day long about the "why," but it's tough to deny that college football has a serious issue on its hands. Just look at the numbers: only seven black head coaches at 119 top division schools (five percent). In comparison, according to a Slate tally, 28.5 percent of college basketball head coaches are black, as are almost one-quarter of NFL head coaches. Oh yeah, and 50 percent of college football athletes are black.

So what's that all add up to? Slate's analysis proposes that racist, rich boosters shoulder most of the blame. What say you?

-- Tim Elfrink

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink