Hitting a low point in what was once—long, long ago—a proud career, Jesse Jackson raised the specter of George Wallace to protest a new injustice in Alabama: the hiring of an eminently talented white head football coach at the University of Alabama. Jackson has long since steered away from real civil rights issues and real victims—and now pimps himself out for the highest-profile causes, often where there is no victim to be found.
After the Crimson Tide had to fire its still-new head coach Mike Price last month for a drunken night in a Florida strip club, the college scrambled to find a replacement. With spring workouts already underway and summer practice just around the corner, time was of the essence. But the Tide also needed a “brand name” that could help people quickly forget the whole Price affair. And a “brand name” is exactly what they found: Mike Shula, the 37-year-old son of coaching legend Don Shula.
In choosing Shula, the university didn’t choose Green Bay Packers assistant coach Sylvester Croom, a 17-year NFL coaching veteran. Normally, there would be no controversy here. Croom, however, is black. That’s where Jackson comes in. He is claiming racial bias, pointing out that Croom also was a standout Tide player in the early 1970’s and subsequently spent ten years there as an assistant coach. If that were the whole of the story, then maybe Jackson might be on to something.
Where Jackson’s fury turns to nonsense, though, is the simple fact that Shula also has an impressive resume. He, too, was a standout player for the Tide, and he has 15 years’ experience as an NFL assistant coach, including the past three with the Miami Dolphins. Further eroding Jackson’s flimsy case is that the Crimson Tide also interviewed—and passed on—an NFL head coach, Richard Williamson. Williamson, like Shula, is white. In other words, the University of Alabama chose one highly qualified candidate—one whose name creates instant media interest—over other highly qualified candidates. Case closed. Not for Jackson, though. “Wallace... blocked the doors many years ago [in Birmingham, Alabama],” Jackson told the Associated Press. “Now you got athletic departments closing the doors.”
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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