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James Franklin, Joker Phillips to make SEC history today

James Franklin, Zac Stacy AP

On the surface, there wouldn’t appear to be anything special about today’s game between Kentucky and Vanderbilt. The two teams have just two combined conference wins this season, although Vandy looks like they may be on the upswing after close games against Georgia, Arkansas and Florida; Kentucky appears to be rebuilding again after a bowl appearance last season.

But the two head coaches — Kentucky’s Joker Phillips and Vandy’s James Franklin — will be part of a milestone today as two African-American coaches will face off against each other for the first time in the history of the SEC.

I understand the significance of it and respect it and appreciate it, and the fact it’s Joker, who I have tremendous respect for and really like as a man,” Franklin said earlier this week. “But I hope that we get to a point here pretty soon that this isn’t even a discussion point. But I understand the significance of it.”

Franklin brings up a good point. This story is great for us, and it’s a nice moment, but this should be commonplace enough that it’s not history-making. Both coaches have maintained their focus is squarely on getting a win today — each team will need to win two of their next three games starting today to become bowl eligible — more than the history they’re making.

“I didn’t know it, and I’m not sure if James knew it also,” Phillips said of the pairing. “It’s another SEC game, much-needed for both parties involved to reach some of the goals that we’ve both set.

“I’ll tell you this: It’ll mean more to me if I can be the African-American coach who gets his team to a bowl game every year. That would mean more to me than coaching in the game with two African-American coaches.”

(Tip of the cap: Louisville Courier-Journal) 

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9 Responses to “James Franklin, Joker Phillips to make SEC history today”
  1. southernpatriots says: Nov 12, 2011 11:13 AM

    This is good history being made by Coaches Franklin and Phillips, but it is sad it too this long to make that history.

    Coach Phillips has the proper perspective:

    “I’ll tell you this: It’ll mean more to me if I can be the African-American coach who gets his team to a bowl game every year. That would mean more to me than coaching in the game with two African-American coaches.”

    Maybe that is coming in not the too distant future.

  2. christopher525 says: Nov 12, 2011 11:58 AM

    Now, tell me race played no part in Chizik getting the Auburn job. This is insane, that this took so long.

  3. southernpatriots says: Nov 12, 2011 12:16 PM

    christopher525: You are right it is insane. However, there could be a bigger picture of even greater insanity (or bigotry, racism, and prejudice). Were the coaches of other NCAA colleges and universities hired because of their skin color? That could have been the case in many instances. Important white boosters did not want an African-American coach. At least that is the assertion of many.

    Just a few years ago, there was a major discussion in Major League Baseball, and NFL football, and other sports, where African-Americans make up a large portion, even a majority, of the players, but at one time made up almost no coaches or administration personnel.

    We are so glad things are changing for the pro leagues and the colleges, finally for the SEC. There are other conferences, and sports in which we would like to see some advancement toward this fairness.

  4. stairwayto7 says: Nov 12, 2011 12:24 PM

    It took this long for this to happen in the SEC?

  5. Jered Snow says: Nov 12, 2011 2:36 PM

    This is great to see this happening. It has been a bumpy year in college football with all the scandals etc. Congratulations to both of these coaches.

  6. Deb says: Nov 12, 2011 2:59 PM

    @stairwayto7 …

    Have two African-American coaches faced off against each other in the Big 10, Big 12, and Pac 12? Just curious …

  7. Deb says: Nov 12, 2011 3:01 PM

    And stairwayto7 …

    Given the glass house you’re living in right now, you really need to stop throwing stones at the SEC. If our coaches were involved in a conspiracy regarding a child rapist, it would be about where the body was buried, not how they covered up for him.

  8. seanb20124 says: Nov 12, 2011 3:12 PM

    Just hire the best guy. Fans cheer winning football and not race of a coach.

  9. southernpatriots says: Nov 12, 2011 3:39 PM

    stairwayto7: Please let us know which of the Big 10 football teams have an African American head coach…we are waiting…having a hard time? you won’t find any. Sounds like the SEC with two African American head coaches is quite a bit ahead of the Big 10 in this respect.

    seanb20124: We agree. However, history tells us that qualified African American coaches were not even interviewed or considered for open coaching positions for many years. There has been some advancement in helping ADs begin to see the inequity and many ADs are now at least including African American coaches in those they interview for available head coaching positions. The SEC is now leading in that respect, though we know we have some distance to go to be ideal.

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