December 8, 2007

AP Mistakes and Samoans in Coaching

I was pleased to read today that Navy promoted assistant Ken Niumatalolo to head coach to fill the vacancy left by Paul Johnson's departure for Georgia Tech.

I was not pleased to read that the AP article, ran by at least ESPN and CNNSI, stated that Niumatalolo was "believed to be" the first Polynesian head coach in NCAA history. I was not pleased because a quick Google search located an August 7, 2005, article from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin which noted that there has not been a Polynesian head coach in Division I-A since Larry Price left Hawaii in 1976. In addition, Polynesian Brian Cabral served as Colorado's interim head coach in 2004.

As a humourous aside, Larry Price is now a major part of the highest-rated AM Radio Show in Honolulu, a conservative two-man talk show.

The racial implications are very interesting to me. In 2007, there were only six African-American head coaches in Division I-A. Off the top of my head, I can think of Washington's Ty Willingham, Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom, Miami's Randy Shannon and UCLA's recently fired head coach Karl Dorrell. It seems that there is little, if any, racial discrimination directed against Polynesians in this country, at least in the lower 48 states. (Which is not to say we, as a nation, have always been good to the Samoans). I sincerely doubt anyone in Navy's AD office thought, "Gee, if we hire a Samoan will we struggle in recruiting?", though similar sentiments have been cited as a reason that African-Americans have such difficulty breaking into college coaching while the NFL is finally opening doors.

American Samoans are common in the NFL, or at least common when you consider that the 2000 Census set the population of American Samoa at 57,000 and change. Lofa Tatupu, Troy Palomalu and Marques Tuiasosopo are a few examples. In fact, the notoriously racist Redskins of yore employed the first Samoan player in 1945, a man named Al Lolotai. I seem to recall African-Americans having more difficulty on this front.

My research for this post has led me to one other interesting tidbit about American Samoa (and something Troy Polamalu and Joey Porter might have in common): Dogfighting is both legal and popular.
[I confirmed today with Dave Reardon, the author of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin article naming Larry Price as the most recent Polynesian coach, that Price is Polynesian (part Hawaiian) and Hawaii was I-A at the time (though independent). The AP clearly didn't do much research, or they don't consider native Hawaiians to be Polynesian.]

7 Responses:

Russell said...

First, I'm happy Navy stayed in house to find their new head coach. The current system works very well with the talent available at a service academy, and as a Navy fan, I hope for continued success.

On the racial front, I am happy to see Navy hire a non-Caucasian. My question is the following: With increased publicity, some people want the NCAA to implement a rule requiring schools to interview an African-American candidate, similar to the NFL rule. Would Navy have needed to interview another candidate and would that be fair to other races like Samoans?

Also, the number of black coaches in I-A football is embarrassing when you consider the percentage of black players. Just look at how many more black coaches (by pct) there are in NCAA basketball.

J-Red said...

The apologists' argument is that a black head coach would not be as welcome in some mid-American and southern living rooms as a white head coach would be.

That's their argument. I think the decline of "white boy" football at Nebraska, Michigan, Notre Dame and the like would seem to encourage otherwise.

J-Red said...

The AP continues to state that he is the first Polynesian head coach in D-I. Are native Hawaiians no longer considered Polynesian?

RhondaRShearer said...

Did you ask AP for a correction?

If you did or plan to, please let us know what happens...We, at StinkyJournalism, are looking for stories or tips on media errors. We report on, and give a voice and face to the often difficult process of citizens asking for corrections.

Stinky Journalism is a not for profit media ethics publication, published by Art Science Research Laboratory

J-Red said...

Because it deals with the racial self-identification of someone I don't know, I think I'll leave it to Larry Price to ask for a correction from the AP.

"ben" said...

Ron English will soon be the Michigan coach. (He's black, in case you didn't know. I don't think we should be talking about this.)

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