ASU Football: Herm Edwards and ASU on Diversity in Football
Earlier this week, NFL.com reported that Maryland head coach Michael Locksley formed a group for minority football coaches. The group was primarily constructed out of being "disappointed and frustrated by the slow pace of minority hiring in college and professional football." The nonprofit named National Coalition of Minority Coaches include:
- Ozzie Newsome, Hall of Famer on college and pro levels, first Black general manager in the NFL, overseer of two Super Bowl winners in Baltimore.
- Nick Saban, University of Alabama head coach and six-time national champion.
- Bill Polian, Pro Football Hall of Fame general manager whose teams participated in five Super Bowls, winning one.
- Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, two-time Super Bowl participant and XLIII winner.
- Doug Williams, Super Bowl XXII MVP quarterback and Washington Football Team executive.
- Oliver "Buddy" Pough, South Carolina State head coach.
- Willie Jeffries, first Black head coach in Division I football at Wichita State.
- Chris Grier, Miami Dolphins general manager.
- Debbie Yow, retired basketball coach and pioneering college administrator.
- Rick Smith, former Houston Texans general manager.
- Desiree Reed-Francois, UNLV athletic director and first Hispanic female and woman of color to be AD at an FBS school.
The nonprofit will help find and mold coaches of color male or female for an upward career. Not only will they help support these coaches, but they will build a pool of candidates for positions as well, which will be vetted by a board of directors that includes some of the most respected and influential names in sports according to NFL.com.
In the NFL, there are only three black head coaches, and in college, there are 14 black head coaches among the 130.
Arizona State has six minority coaches, which includes head coach, Herm Edwards. Edwards, on the Speak of the Devils podcast back in February, had this to say about hiring minorities:
"Let's look at the diversity in college if you really want to call it like it is? How many head coaches are in college and Power 5 schools that are men of color? 130s the number? How many? Colleges need to look at themselves.."
The third-year head coach went to explain why it's essential to diversify the staff in a locker room:
"If you look at our program. I think our program is pretty diverse. Is it done on purpose? No. But there is a conscious effort to make sure you hire candidates that are qualified at all positions then make the right decision. If you look at our staff, I would say we are headed in the right direction. And maybe this can be a model for other colleges…
You have to do your due diligence and understand the players in the room, the players in the room, a lot of them look like me. Whether you like it or not. If you can't relate to those guys … you're probably never going to get the best out of them."
Coach Edwards was vocal about all of this before the pandemic hit, before the George Floyd protests and all the things 2020 has seen so far. Edwards gets it. During the riots and the protests, ASU came together and formed the "WE 22" movement.
There are 22 coaches and administrators that together are fighting for change and spreading it across their school. They are committed to helping their student-athletes rise to the occasion on and off the field. In a tweet posted by Associate Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator, Antonio Pierce he and 21 others are committed to,
"We are black men who have the responsibility of serving student-athletes at Arizona State University, a Power 5 conference institution. The largest in the country, were also fathers, sons and husbands who are angered and frustrated with the repeated cycle of national disregard for black life. Our department is home to many young black lives who represent our university in their sport, but who are also developing their mind, spirit and identity and promise as coming of age leaders who will influence their future families in an uncertain America. We are concerned. With this is a preamble. WE 22 collectively share our thoughts in the moment."
While Locksley's plan is to help highlight minority coaches and create a "pipeline" for them, the "WE 22" movement at ASU is meant to help and support their black athletes better. Maybe, just maybe the two will collide one day, and a "WE 22" member will become a coach in college or the NFL thanks to the National Coalition of Minority Coaches. The motions are set, the foundation has been poured, now the building begins.