The 2013 college football season is less than one week away and this year promises to be one of the most exciting ever as teams vie to prevent Alabama from winning its third consecutive Division I FBS National Championship. 2013 will also be the last year for the sometimes controversial Bowl Championship Series. Given that college football coaches are significant faces of their respective universities or colleges for many schools with college football tradition, the dialogue about minority head coaching representation in FBS football will remain. This college football season will include black head coaches seriously competing for conference championships but doing so after previously establishing themselves on the offensive side of the ball.
The first Associated Press Top 25 Poll for FBS college football in 2013 includes three programs that employ black head coaches in the top 10. Of those three coaches, only Louisville's Charlie Strong, was previously a defensive coordinator before becoming a head coach. The other two men, Stanford's David Shaw, and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin had success as offensive coordinators before becoming head coaches. While it is important that more black coaches are given a chance to become head coaches at colleges regardless of their offensive or defensive background, it is very important that black coaches that made careers out of coaching offense are currently having success. The game of football will always have affinity for hiring men as head coaches who help pile up yards and points because people naturally are geared to seeing exciting offense than stingy defense.
Stanford's David Shaw has had terrific success during his first two years as a head coach after previously serving as Stanford's offensive coordinator under former head coach Jim Harbaugh. After Harbaugh departed for the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL, many believed that Stanford would take a sizable step back as a program but that hasn't been the case. Over the past two years under Shaw, Stanford has had historic success while winning at least 11 games the last three seasons for the first time in school history. David Shaw also became one of four individuals to lead a team to back-to-back BCS bowls in their first two seasons as a college head coach. The other black head coach with offensive roots is Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin, who has helped transform a mediocre Texas A&M football program. In one year at Texas A&M, Sumlin's Aggies won 11 games in their first year in the very challenging Southeastern Conference. Sumlin also developed a young quarterback named Johnny Manziel, who became the first freshman Heisman Trophy winner ever. Sumlin's history of developing quarterback talent includes former Houston quarterback Case Keenum and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, both of whom are in the NFL. Vanderbilt's James Franklin has also had a great two years during his first head coaching stint after being the offensive coordinator at Maryland. That Shaw, Sumlin, and Franklin are having their great successes at academic institutions that are very esteemed academic programs speaks volumes as well.
Due to football's history of being exclusionary against black men in the position many see as most cerebral, the quarterback, that has had a direct impact on black coaches being hired as offensive coordinators and then being promoted and being hired as head coaches. Many former quarterbacks become head coaches because of the perception that quarterback is a leadership position that blends knowing Xs and Os while managing different personalities. As black quarterbacks have been given opportunities to play major college football and in the NFL, that leads to the potential of black coaching development on the offensive side of the ball as the careers of those black quarterbacks end. The future for black coaches with offensive background looks bright as well as a number of black men will begin their 2013 college football seasons as head coaches in new environments including Purdue's Darrell Hazell and South Florida's Willie Taggart. Given the opportunities, black head coaches have shown that they can be worthy of the "offensive genius" tag given to many of their successful white peers.