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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

James Lofton - Stanford's Token Interview In Coaching Search

Update - 12/13/2006: Stanford Alums and Fans unearth new news reports posted Wednesday December 13th that Stanford's approached other African American Candidates! Great news!

Update: Stanford Head Coaching Job Not Listed In Black Coaches Association Job Bank (as of this writing)

Hey, first of all, I'm an Old Blue -- a Cal guy -- but I'll be honest and say that I'll look for any opportunity to recommend an African American who's more than qualified for a head coaching position to anyone that represents any college, and that includes Stanford.

Right now, Stanford's looking for a head coach. They just interviewed Jim Fassel, who was at Stanford before and other than coaching John Elway -- which is huge itself -- didn't do much. Plus, that was a while ago.

Stanford also talked to San Diego wide receiver coach James Lofton. No offense to the once great NFL player, but he's Stanford's token black candidate right now, and that's pretty ugly. He's a Stanford alum, I understand. But he's not the guy who's going to be able to stack his resume against Fassel's and they -- Stanford -- knows it.

I'm writing this with some bite as I talked to a good friend of mine about the matter and he's a well-placed Stanford guy. I told him Stanford should talk with Bengals wide receiver coach Hue Jackson, who's been an offensive coordinator with Cal, USC, and the Washington Redskins. He's also black.

There's also Michael Haywood - Offensive Coordinator & Running Backs coach for Notre Dame. He's the guy who has as much to do with Brady Quinn's success as Charlie Weis, or so says Weis himself. Haywood's Black. There's also UCLA's Defensive Coordinator DeWayne Walker, who engineered the defense that destroyed USC. Well, that's going a little too far, but you get the idea -- he's Black.

My friend responded that Stanford should talk to James Lofton because he's Black and that was it. I told him that Stanford should talk to well qualified people who happen to be Black, and Hue Jackson's certainly in that category.

See, the reason I pressed this is that there's a common habit of talking to a Black person because they're Black and knowing all the time they're not the best, so they don't get the job.

Instead, I have to hear about Jim Harbaugh, and even from people like KNBR's Rod Brooks, who's Black, but is consistently afraid of taking on the matter of the hiring of Blacks to top sports jobs. If you listened to KNBR you'd think Brooks was actually scared to mention the matter. All the better to keep his job, I guess. Ah, the fear factor...

That's not good. Its really supports a kind of designed Affirmative Action: "Let's make sure we pick a White guy by not having anyone Black there who can really be the best hire, let alone hear from some rabble rouser who's going to push too many well-qualified black applicants at us because the Alumns don't want that." In fact, it is designed Affirmative Action. I also don't believe "The Alumns" are that stupid.

(Well, they did pass on former USC and now Tennessee Titans Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow and the word on the street was because he's Asian. I hope the word's not a reliable source, but I wonder.)

Stanford's Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby should be way beyond this and I'm disappointed it seems he's not. He should have a mile long list of candidates and many -- not just one -- of color. Hey, I'm grosing about this and will not let up. I told both my friend and Bowlsby about Jackson, and that was last week.

This is the 21st Century, right? Hello?

And don't -- before some of you do it -- give me that term "race card" as I'll immediately brand you as stupid. Race -- more appropriately skin color and the reaction to it -- is still a problem. Those who even try to use that term only do so to stop others from talking about it. It's a form of censorship. It's not going to work with me. Stanford needs to get out their and talk to more good Black -- and yeah, Black because many colleges openly go after Black running backs because they're Black -- applicants.

We've got to change for the better and now, not later.


Pop Warner said...

Of all the schools to accuse of "tokenism," Stanford should be the last one that comes to mind. Stanford has hired TWO African American head football coaches (Tyrone Willingham and Denny Green), which is two more than just about everyone else. Stanford's head basketball coach is African American (Trent Johnson). Stanford obviously "gets it" with respect to minority hiring. Stanford's record in minority hiring is better than just about every other school in Division IA. Why don't you save your criticism for a school that really deserves it, instead of picking on the school that has one of the best records among all big time sports schools?

Zennie Abraham said...

I remind you that Stanford's record was achieved under another Athletic Director, not Bob Bowlsby, who's new.

So this should at least keep him in check, I hope.

Zennie Abraham said...

Oh, that "other Athletic Director" was the great Ted Leland who's now in Stanford's Hall Of Fame.

Anonymous said...

Who cares if Stanford has a new AD? The school has shown an institutional propensity to make hiring decisions that consider a wide array of candidates. Most of your other posts seem to rip off AP wire reports, so I can't imagine you have done any independent investigation, but in the event you have, what evidence is there that Lofton is the only minority candidte Stanford has contacted? What evidence is there that Stanford's interest in Lofton isn't sincere? Why on Earth would you presume foul play in this situation? Is there something about Bowlsby's past hiring practices that merits this scrutiny?

Any nugget of information that could bouy your argument would be much appreciated. Until you can come up with something, go back to listening to KNBR, and try to remember that you're not Jim Rome.

P.S. Your efforts might be better directed to scrutiny of the Alabama coaching search...

Zennie Abraham said...

To answer your question, two events. First, a conversation I had with my Stanford Alumn friend just last week and about this specific issue and James Lofton. Second, the referenced NY Times article mentioning Lofton. Third, another conversation I had with another Stanford Alumn who works out at my gym.

So I've got a wealth of contacts on the matter. The bottom line is that it's good to be public and open in a coaching search that generates this high degree of public scrutiny. Playing things close to the vest is not wise.

Nothing personal, just the business of keeping this process honest and making sure no backward look is taken. Stanford must -- as it has in the past -- be careful to pay attention to the hard facts of the recent past that have created this infrastructure of concern that I am but a small part of.

Pop Warner said...

The newspapers are saying that Stanford's athletic director Bowlsby has contacted at least THREE African American candidates -- not just James Lofton. Lofton is no token. Stanford obviously "gets it" and is receptive to minority hiring. You are out to lunch. Give it up and go find some other target to pick on.

Zennie Abraham said...

Pop Warner...

You're just plain wrong. First you don't even link to the news article you claim that states this. I also think you're misreading the news out there.

Why not PUSH Stanford to make sure it's inclusive -- in other words, what's the fear in joining my voice? Ah?

Pop Warner said...

Stanford contacted Tom Williams according to the San Jose Mercury News. http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/colleges/stanford/16227167.htm

Stanford contacted DeWayne Walker according to the L.A. News. http://www.dailynews.com/sports/ci_4829506

You are out to lunch. There is no reason to think Lofton is a token. There is no reason to think that Stanford's process is unfair to African Americans. Stanford doesn't deserve your criticism.

I'm not joining your voice because you are misguided.

Zennie Abraham said...

That's great great news! And were it not for my pushing on this, these articles would not be known.

Thank God for this.

Anonymous said...

Dude, these three articles merely reported what was going on. Taking credit for their existence or distribution, or whatever "being known" is supposed to mean is patting yourself on the back a little too hard.

Yes, Stanford is being secretive in it's hiring process -- look at the mess not being secretive has caused for Miami and Alabama -- but secretive or not, there has been no break from the consistent integrity with which such searches have been conducted historically. Again, there was never any reason for you to infer otherwise, no matter what some Stanford grad at your gym says (unless you happen to be talking to the right folks at Arrillaga Gym). Your "wealth of contacts" is, well, pretty poor.

Rather than say, "good for you Stanford, I told you so," maybe you need to just admit that you've been wrong all along. Apologize, retract, do things a real journalist would. While this world (and certainly the NCAA) can use some watchdogs, barking at anything that moves during the night will only create a useless nuisance.

Thanks for wasting our time.

Zennie Abraham said...

(unless you happen to be talking to the right folks at Arrillaga Gym)...

Actually, that's exactly where it came from...

alvin said...


If a former Stanford great had a 17 year hall of fame professional career, and then 7 years working as an analyst, 5 years pro coaching experience on a succesful NFL team, and 3 high-achieving kids, that person would be a highly qualified candidate at Stanford regardless of color. Lofton is no token candidate. Nonsense! But I also think being an African-American may also be a plus. Stanford needs more talented black athletes - and I think Lofton is the kind of guy these kids could relate to. I think Lofton is a very classy individual. He'll build up the program, and the players will love him.

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