This New York Times article mostly discusses minority hiring in college football, but it has a nice mention of our very own Tony Dungy.
In Retirement, Dungy Looks to Make a Difference
by William C. Rhoden, New York Times
When Tony Dungy announced his retirement as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts last month, his greatest concern was withdrawal. He’d been a member of the National Football League fraternity for 31 years as a player and coach. How could he not miss the game?
More than a month into retirement, Dungy said he has been pleasantly surprised. Between making appearances for his latest book, “Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance,” and traveling between Indianapolis and Tampa, Fla., for various church missions, he hasn’t had a chance to miss the game.
On Monday he went to the Florida State Fair. “I took the kids and hung out all day and had a great time,” Dungy said Tuesday by phone. “I’m learning that there’s life away from football.”
He’s surprised by how quickly he has unplugged himself from the game. When young coaches have called looking for jobs and asking Dungy to make calls on their behalf, he’s surprised to discover that in many instances he has lost track of which jobs are open and who is coaching where. Just five weeks ago he knew the coaching carousel by heart.
Only once has he really thought about football: during a talk at a local church. “They played a video clip of the Colts’ 2008 season,” Dungy said. “When I saw the guys flash up there, I said: ‘Man, I’m going to miss that. I’m going to miss being up there on a daily basis.’ Until then, I’d been running so much with the book and different things, trying to figure out where I’m going to go next, that I hadn’t really thought about it.”
Dungy won’t be completely divorced from football. He has a mission in mind that involves college football. He intends to lead the crusade to break down big-time college football’s resistance to hiring African-Americans as head coaches.
While the win-driven N.F.L. has moved toward enlightenment when it comes to diversity among head coaches, there are only six African-American head football coaches at the Division I-A level.
“To think that you would have a black president of the United States and two black men who have won Super Bowls before you would have a black head coach in a top-20 school is hard to believe,” Dungy said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
“The baffling thing for me is that you can have African-American professors at these schools, you can be the head of the department, you can be the basketball coach, you can be the track coach, but you can’t be the football coach. How are we going to change that? I don’t know.”
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, head basketball coaches like John Thompson at Georgetown, John Chaney at Temple and Nolan Richardson at Arkansas mounted boycott and protest efforts against the N.C.A.A. over legislation they felt would unfairly discriminate against African-American athletes. The point is that those coaches had the clout and the reputations to command the N.C.A.A.’s attention.
Very few African-American college football coaches today have enough sway and job security to flex their muscles.
Dungy could hold the key. The Colts’ chaplain, Ken Johnson, told him as much after he announced his retirement. Dungy said: “He told me: ‘I know you’re going to be thinking about what you’re going to do, just remember you’re able to do some things that not everyone else can do. Don’t forget about that.’ ”
When the University of Minnesota was looking for a head coach two years ago, Joel Maturi, the director of athletics, called Dungy, who had been a star quarterback at Minnesota in the early 1970s. Although he wasn’t interested, Dungy recommended Mike Tomlin, then a defensive coordinator with the Vikings, and Leslie Frazier, then an assistant with the Colts.
Minnesota hired Tim Brewster, a former tight ends coach with the Denver Broncos, whose teams have since gone 8-17 in his two seasons in college football.
In a phone interview on Tuesday, Maturi said that on Dungy’s recommendation he contacted Tomlin and Frazier. He said they were also contacted by the university’s search firm. “Neither of them wanted a college job,” Maturi said. “They wanted to stay in the pros.”
Maturi said he interviewed two African-American candidates: Mike Haywood, now the head coach at Miami of Ohio, and Charlie Strong, the University of Florida defensive coordinator.
“I hired the best football coach who was available; I hired the best basketball coach that was available,” he said.
At the same time, Maturi realized that the larger challenge is achieving diversity among those who do the hiring and firing. “The reality is that most of the athletic directors are white males, and they have a certain comfort level with other white males,” Maturi said. “That will change. Maybe not as quickly as some want , but it will change.”
The N.C.A.A. does not have a Rooney Rule requiring teams to interview minority head coaching candidates. Whereas a strong owner can make the call in the N.F.L., a college president, ever the fund-raiser, is often beholden to large donors and boosters.
“Colleges are result driven, but the difference is that when Dan Rooney decides to hire Mike Tomlin, he doesn’t have to worry about any ramifications other than people buying tickets,” Dungy said.
“The athletic director and the president at the University of Minnesota, they get Mike Tomlin’s name and their response is: How’s this going to affect donations? How’s this going to affect alumni relations? How’s this going to affect a whole lot of other things?”
Dungy said he attended a seminar in Indianapolis attended by a handful of athletic directors and black head coaches at Division I programs and in the N.F.L.
Tyrone Willingham, the former head coach at Notre Dame and the University of Washington, was in the room.
Dungy said that during the meeting, Kevin White, the former Notre Dame athletic director, spoke hypothetically about how boosters, by leveraging substantial donations, could play a significant role in the selection of a head football coach.
“That’s the pressure, that’s why it’s difficult, that’s why it is different,” Dungy said.
He added: “I don’t know how you change that unless an institution makes a moral stand and says, ‘We’ve just got to be a strong enough force that we’re going to do what’s right and if it does costs us a $12 million library, we’ll make up for it.’ ”
That’s quintessential Dungy.
Unfortunately, you won’t find many Tony Dungys around big-time college sports programs.
On the other hand, maybe soon you will.