Bear Bryant, whom many consider to be the finest football coach in history, will also be the man that Black people in the future "Black World" canonize as being the patron saint of making Southern football accommodating to Black people, and in large part, the nation.
Black people now comprise the majority of every Southeastern Conference (SEC) football team a mere 40 years later. Only lowly Vanderbilt dares trot out a majority white team, as the academic standards of the school leave Black people out of the admissions running in most cases, except for those who might be able to score a 22 on the Wonderlic Test."Before the start of the 1970 season, Bryant decided to take the initiative. At a January coaches meeting, he ran into his friend John McKay, the head coach of the University of Southern California Trojans, one of college football's most celebrated integrated teams. ... The Trojans would play in Birmingham to open the 1970 season, and Alabama would return the favor in Los Angeles the following autumn. Bryant must have known that his talent-deficient Tide team was no match for Southern Cal, and that proved to be the case. USC's two great black running backs, Sam "the Bam" Cunningham, who scored three touchdowns that afternoon, and Clarence Davis, who had been born in Birmingham, ran all over Alabama for a crushing 42-21 victory.
The one-sidedness of the defeat shocked many Alabamians... Cunningham, and proceeded to take him into the Alabama locker room, where he announced, "Gentlemen, this is what a football player looks like."
Bryant did go to the USC locker room to congratulate Cunningham, but the rest is fiction: The Alabama players didn't need to be told that the Tide had to integrate. Sam Cunningham, in Bear Bryant's words, "did more to integrate Alabama in one afternoon than Martin Luther King had in years."
"In major-college football history, exactly two marquee jobs have gone to black coaches: Oklahoma hired John Blake in 1996, and Notre Dame hired Tyrone Willingham in 2002. Each was given three seasons before being booted."Willingham, once the Token Black of head coaches, didn't fare well at Notre Dame and did even worse at Washington, taking that once powerful program into the lands only diversity could lead them, 0-12 in 2008 and a pathetic 11-37 in four seasons.
- To address significant issues pertaining to the participation and employment of ethnic minorities in sport in general and intercollegiate athletics in particular.
- To assist ethnic minorities aspiring to have a career in athletics through educational and professional development programming and scholarships.
- To provide youth and diverse communities the opportunity to interact positively with the BCA as a corporate citizen and community builder through a variety of alliances