Robert Prather and Steven Taylor both write on the historic hiring of Sylvester Croom, who became the first black head football coach in Southeastern Conference history when Mississippi State hired him yesterday.

I didn’t post on it because, honestly, I tire of the “first black X” stories. But as the Limbaugh-McNabb controvery earlier this NFL season and this sad ESPN story on black NFL players receiving threatening letters make clear, we’re not yet over this issue.

The Croom hire is also interesting to me because my alma mater–and Crooms’–The University of Alabama, passed on a chance (well, actually two chances) to hire him this offseason, choosing first Mike Price and then Mike Shula instead. As I noted in May, picking Croom made sense for a variety of reasons but, as I also wrote, doing so under pressure from Jesse Jackson and others would have been shameful. Time will tell if the Shula hire was the right one for the Tide, but it’s probably just as well for Croom that he was hired by the Rebels Bulldogs instead. First, it’s mighty tough to come home and be the coach. Only Bear Bryant managed to pull that one off at the Capstone. Second, while both programs are pretty pitiful right now, the spotlight at Alabama is as intense as any in the country. Add to that the pressure of it being his first head coaching gig and the weight of history, it would have been one tremendous burden for Croom.

I wish him much success at Mississippi State. But not too much!

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. That would be the Bulldogs, not the Rebels!!