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Whitlock’s List Of Black Division I Football Coaches

Kevin Sumlin is the Eddie Robinson of Division I coaches. The Indianapolis native and former Purdue linebacker has won more FBS football games (95) than any other black coach. 

The University of Arizona fired Sumlin last week, after Herm Edwards’ Arizona State squad slammed a 70-7 exclamation point on Sumlin’s winless Wildcats.

Sumlin joined Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason and Illinois’ Lovie Smith in the unemployment line, lowering the number of black Division I coaches to 10. At some point this offseason, the internet will be filled with stories that purport to examine the alleged dearth of black head coaches at the collegiate level. Outrage will be expressed across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

It’s a predictable media cycle that has been transpiring for three decades. I spent much of this weekend pondering the issue and looking for substantive information and insight. I was shocked how little real information is out there.

As best I can tell, no one has published a complete list of black Division I coaches in at least a decade. Wikipedia doesn’t track it. I spent two days compiling the names and records of all the black men who have been Division I head coaches since Wichita State broke the color barrier with its hiring of Willie Jeffries in 1979.

Jeffries lasted five seasons at Wichita. His 1982 team finished 8-3 — Jeffries’ lone winning season. Jeffries and his coaching staff frequently ran afoul of NCAA rules, and the program landed on probation. The Shockers fell to 3-8 the following season. The school fired Jeffries and three years later discontinued the football program. Jeffries returned to South Carolina State. 

By my count, there have been 53 black Division I football coaches. Sumlin has won the most games. Stanford’s David Shaw has been the most successful. He’s won three PAC-12 titles. His 2015 squad finished 12-2 and ranked No. 3 in the country. Shaw has won 88 games in 10 seasons at Stanford. 

Below is the list of all the black head coaches I could find. Maybe I missed someone. Feel free to point out an omission in the comments or hunt me down via Twitter @whitlockjason. 

I did not count interim coaches except for Everett Withers, who coached North Carolina for an entire season. Nevada’s Jay Norvell is not on my list. He’s Native American. 

Of the 50 coaches, nine — Sumlin, Shaw, James Franklin, Charlie Strong, Ruffin McNeill, Karl Dorrell, Randy Shannon, Herm Edwards and Jimmy Lake — have winning records, which is roughly 20 percent. 

Shaw, Dino Babers (Bowling Green), Turner Gill (Buffalo), Michael Haywood (Miami of Ohio) and Franklin (Penn State) led their teams to conference championships. 

I compiled this information so I could better analyze what’s transpiring with black coaches at the collegiate level. Here is the link to the column I wrote after spending three days researching and thinking about black college football coaches. 

Kevin Sumlin

1) Kevin Sumlin: 95 overall wins; Houston 35-17; TA&M 51-26, 11-2 and ranked No. 5 (2011); AZ 9-20, fired (2020)

2) David Shaw: 88 overall wins at Stanford, 88-36, 3 PAC-12 titles, 5 double-digit wins, ranked No. 3 (2015); active

3) James Franklin: 82 overall wins; Vandy 24-15; Penn State 58-28;  three 11-win seasons; won Big Ten (2016); active

4) Tyrone Willingham: 76 overall wins; (1995-2001) Stanford 44-36-1; (2002-04) Notre Dame 21-15; (2005-08) Washington 11-37

5) Charlie Strong: 74 overall wins; Louisville 37-15; Texas 16-21; USF 21-16

6) Willie Taggart: 61 overall wins; W KY 16-20; USF 24-25; OR 7-5; FSU 9-12; FAU 5-3; active

7) Dino Babers: 42 overall wins; BGSU 18-9, MAC champs (2015); Syracuse 24-36; active

8) Ruffin McNeill:  42 overall wins, ECU 42-34, school record 10-3 (2013)

9) Karl Dorrell: 39 overall wins; UCLA 35-21; Colo 4-1; active

10) Tony Samuel: 34 overall wins, New Mexico State 34-57 

Turner Gill

11) Turner Gill: 31 overall wins; Buffalo 20-30, MAC champ (2008); Kansas 5-19; Liberty 6-6 

12) Bob Simmons: 30 overall wins, Oklahoma State 30-38

13) Randy Shannon: 28 overall wins, Miami 28-22

14) Mike London: 27 overall wins, VA 27-46

15) Derek Mason: 27 overall wins, Vandy 27-55; fired (2020)

16) Dennis Green: 26 overall wins; Northwestern 10-45; Stanford 16-18

17) Jim Caldwell: 26 overall wins, Wake Forest 26-63

18) Darrell Hazell: 25 overall wins; KSU 16-10; Purdue 9-33

19) Ron Cooper: 22 overall wins; EMU 9-13; Louisville 13-20

20) Sylvester Croom: 21 overall wins, Mississippi St. 21-38, SEC Coach of the Year (2007)

Sylvester Croom

21) Willie Jeffries: 21 overall wins, Wichita State 21-32

22) Wayne Nunnely: 19 overall wins, Las Vegas 19-25

23) Frank Wilson: 19 overall wins, UTSA 19-29

24) Matt Simon: 18 overall wins, (1994-97) North Texas 18-26-1

25) Ron Prince: 17 overall wins, Kansas State 17-20 

26) Lovie Smith: 17 overall wins, Illinois 17-39; fired (2020)

27) Herm Edwards: 16 overall wins, Arizona State 16-13

28) Bobby Williams: 16 overall wins, (1999-2002) Michigan State 16-17

29) Curtis Johnson: 15 overall wins, Tulane 15-34

30) Fitz Hill: 14 overall wins, San Jose State 14-33

Everett Withers

31) Everett Withers: 14 overall wins; UNC 7-6; Tex State 7-28

32) Francis Peay: 13 overall wins, Northwestern 13-51-1

33) Joker Phillips: 13 overall wins, Kentucky 13-24

34) John Blake: 12 overall wins, Oklahoma 12-22

35) Ron English: 11 overall wins, EMU 11-46 

36) Michael Haywood: 10 overall wins, Miami of Ohio 10-15, MAC champ and MAC Coach of the Year (2010)

37) DeWayne Walker: 10 overall wins, New Mexico State 10-40

38) Paul Haynes: 9 overall wins, KSU 9-30, former alum

39) Cleve Bryant: 9 overall wins, Ohio 9-44-2

40) Trent Miles: 9 overall wins, Georgia State 9-38

41) Scottie Montgomery: 9 overall wins, ECU 9-26

42) Don Treadwell: 8 overall wins, Miami of Ohio 8-21

43) Ron Dickerson: 8 overall wins, Temple (1993-97) 8-47

Michael Locksley

44) Mike Locksley: 8 overall wins; NMex 2-26; Maryland 6-16; active

45) Mel Tucker: 7 overall wins; Colorado 5-7; Michigan State 2-4; active

46) Mike Jinks: 7 overall wins, BGSU 7-24

47) Jerry Baldwin: 6 overall wins, La.-Lafayette 6-27 

48) Thomas Hammock: 5 overall wins, NIU 5-13; active

49) Garrick McGee: 5 overall wins, UAB 5-19

50) Jon Embree: 4 overall wins, Colo 4-21

51) Jimmy Lake: 3 overall wins, Washington 3-1; active

52) Larry Porter: 3 overall wins, Memphis 3-21

53) Willie Brown: 2 overall wins, Long Beach St. 2-8-2

Written by Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock is a longtime sports writer, TV personality, radio host, podcaster and the newest member of the Outkick family.
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6 Comments

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  1. Damn, Jason, this list does not look so good at first blush. Lots of losing coaches. But, we may see a similar spread like this where a few coaches have most of the wins and a lot of coaches share most of the losses.
    Another way of looking at this list is the overall win percentage of these 53 guys. I get 1,239 wins vs. 1,805 losses. A 40.7% win percentage. Based on the fact that every game has a winner and a loser (save ties), the average winning percentage of all coaches in history is 50%. So, these coaches performed about 20% worse than average.

  2. I have to defend Sumlin. His handling of the quarterback situation at Texas A&M was a killer for him. He lost Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen in that deal. Both are in the NFL. Kellen Mond was a freshman when this happened. He was fired and took the Arizona job which was in a death spiral after the Rich Rodriguez scandal. His lack of communication with the quarterbacks at A&M really hurt his ability to recruit. It was failed from the beginning. I do not think Mond is Kyler Murray. Time will tell. Who knows what happened?

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