The Ugly Side of Sports

By Chris

With the hiring of Gene Chizik at Auburn, many around the country are basically up in arms that UB coach Turner Gill didn’t get the job.

Charles Barkley is leading the charge.

“I’m in shock that Turner didn’t get that job,” Barkley told The Buffalo News on Monday. “First of all he deserved the job — I’m in shock. It’s so frustrating because he should have gotten the Nebraska job, and it’s frustrating to me that a guy with a proven track record doesn’t get these jobs. It’s no disrespect to the coaches who get these jobs.”

Members of the Alabama media are also scratching their heads over Auburn’s decision to hire a less qualified coach.

Josh Moon of the Montgomery Advertiser writes:

Forget their coaching records, where Gill clearly has an edge. Forget fan sentiment, where Gill clearly has an edge. And forget recruiting prowess, where Gill clearly has an edge.

The higher-ups at AU disregarded all of that and picked Chizik for one simple reason: That’s the guy they felt comfortable with.

And that’s a problem. A big one.

Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that comfort was built entirely on the color of Chizik’s skin. Obviously, I believe race played a big role in this, but it wasn’t the only factor, and maybe not even the biggest factor.

It seems the most appealing attribute offered by Chizik was his willingness to bend and give up some control to AU’s meddlesome group of boosters and power players.

Of course, because race is being heavily played into this, the situation is also getting plenty of coverage by the national media.

Outside the Lines did a piece about the curiously low number African-American head coaches in Division I and featured an interview with Gill from January 2007:

At the end of the piece, Bob Ley interviewed football writer Mark Schlabach, who was critical of Chizik’s hiring in a recent column.

Schlabach said that Gill not getting hired by Auburn and other teams in the SEC goes deeper than just the color of his skin, but also because of the race of his family.

Deadspin‘s got the link to the interview segment.

Ley put it best when he said, “2009 and you heard that.” How far have we really come in terms of equality?

There’s no question Gill is a talented coach who will one day be hired to head up a major program. He’s too good to get passed over again and again.

Gill knows what he’s up against though, and like he’s done throughout his coaching career at Buffalo, he’s only concerning himself with matters that he can control.

From The Buffalo News story:

Gill was asked Monday if he was given a fair opportunity during the interview process at Syracuse and Auburn.

“It’s up for everybody’s own opinion,” said Gill, who withdrew his name for consideration at Syracuse. “I feel as if I had a sincere look. God has a plan and if he wanted me to be at those particular places he would have placed me there. I’m excited to be the head football coach here and we’ll see how things work out.”

In other news, Gill is a finalist for the Paul “Bear” Bryant College Football Coach of the Year award:

The 2008 Paul Bear Bryant College Football Coach of the Year Finalists, in alphabetical order: Mack Brown, University of Texas; Turner Gill, University at Buffalo; Mike Leach, Texas Tech University; Houston Nutt, University of Mississippi; Chris Petersen, Boise State University; Nick Saban, University of Alabama; Bob Stoops, University of Oklahoma and Kyle Whittingham, University of Utah.

That’s some pretty good company. The winner will be announced on Jan. 15.