'Blacketologist' Examines How More African American-Coached Teams Can Make Big Dance

March 12th, 2020 10:00 AM

Just imagine if a white sports writer penned a piece on the probability of college basketball teams coached by white guys making it into the NCAA Tournament field. And then obsessed on precisely what these white coaches would need to do to get their teams into the tourney field. The writer would be denounced as a "white supremacist," then quickly tarred, feathered and fired faster than you can say "March Madness."

The ESPN blog The Undefeated is running a post by an African American writer and self-described "blacketologist" examining the likelihood of teams coached by black men making the "Big Dance." How far we haven't come on race.

"As a bracketologist – or excuse me, a blacketologist – it’s my favorite time of year," writes Jamal Murphy, of The Undefeated. Murphy only seems interested in the fortunes of black-coached teams, however.

Isn't this just the sort of thing Martin Luther King spoke against? Content of character over color of skin? Right, and comments like those below don't do anything to help race relations:

"There are a few head coaches of color that are safe in this year’s field: Anthony Grant (Dayton), Leonard Hamilton (Florida State), LaVall Jordan (Butler), Juwan Howard (Michigan), Kelvin Sampson (Houston) and Ed Cooley (Providence) have their teams in good shape for solid seeds and potentially long tournament runs."

Murphy is counting on two more black head coaches receiving automatic NCAA Tournament bids from historically black conferences, the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).

The MEAC postseason tournament and NCAA Tournament berth could come down to North Carolina Central, coached by LeVelle Moton, and North Carolina A&T, coached by Jay Joyner.

In the SWAC, Prairie View A&M is the top seeded team, and this is crucial because Coach Byron Smith is a man of color.

Murphy is resolved to the likelihood of North Carolina Central and Prairie View A&M being forced to play in the First Four games in Dayton ahead of the Big Dance. They are among the lowest-ranked conference leaders in the NET rankings.

Obsessed with race and a "black bubble," Murphy says there are a handful of coaches of color whose teams could hit or miss during championship week:

"So, in the spirit of inclusion, recognition and encouragement, here is a look at the black bubble: schools with black or Latino head coaches who are currently on the bubble and are in dire need of wins (as well as our love and support) to secure one of the 36 at-large bids in the Big Dance, not to mention future job security."

A spirit of inclusion is foreign to March Madness because the NCAA Tournament field is based on merit, not affirmative action. You win your way in by competing on the court. It's color blind and based on wins.

That's just how Penny Hardaway (seen in above photo), African American coach of the bubble team Memphis, sees it. After a recent loss to SMU, he said, “We need to win out.”

Finally admitting winning has something to do with March Madness worthiness, Murphy is hoping North Carolina State's black coach Kevin Keatts can win a game or two in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament to get into the field.

Murphy is also pulling for South Carolina and Latino Frank Martin to make a deep run in the Southeastern Conference tournament to make the Big Dance, too.

On reflection, Murphy's blatant racism is not that surprising. He serves as executive producer and co-host of the Bill Rhoden On Sports podcast. Rhoden also writes for The Undefeated and is a first-class race-baiter in his own right.