Real World Interruption; Grambling's Low Road

Sometimes real world events make things like the major league lockout, a fourth quarter Warrior collapse, or the NFL Combine seem pretty insignificant by comparison.


This is one of those times. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the dominant story not just on international news cycles, but on millions of cell phones and You Tube posts.


Keith Olbermann used to have a segment on his show titled "The Worst Person in the World."


No question Russian president Vladimir Putin (above right) is the obvious choice, but another strong candidate would be pro-Putin, white supremacist Fox News host Tucker Carlson.


On Friday night, after several days spent defending Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Carlson decided to switch gears and ridicule President Joe Biden's nomination of a black woman for the Supreme Court.


The nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson is an attempt to “defile” the Supreme Court and “humiliate and degrade” the U.S., Carlson ranted.


He said Biden's choice of a black woman sent "a very clear message that you don’t like the country you run and you don’t care about the institutions that its ancestors built.”


What utter nonsense.

Carlson's pandering to the White grievance crowd is not just tiresome, but disgusting and dangerous. Over the past several years Carlson, race-baiting politicians and other Fox News types have labeled prominent women of color as extreme, far left radicals who hate America.


Strange how these same folks didn't utter a peep when Ronald Reagan promised to pick a woman for the Supreme Court (Sandra Day O’Connor). Or when Donald Trump promised to pick a woman to replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Amy Coney Barrett).


The difference is, of course, that those women are white, and to Carlson and others of his ilk, that's all that matters.


On the Other Hand: At the other end of the spectrum we have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (top photo left), the comedian turned politician, who is evoking comparisons to Winston Churchill with his courage in the face of adversity and naked evil.


Zelensky has been offered asylum from the United States, Poland and other countries, but has chosen to stay on the streets and fight with his countryman. "I need ammunition, not a ride," he quipped.


With Russian tanks on the outskirts of the city, and his name on the top of the kill list, this ordinary man has become a true hero. In an era when American politicians are afraid to anger the base or risk a verbal attack from Mar-a-Lago—or, in the case of Ted Cruz, escape to Mexico when his home state is freezing from a power grid failure—it's incredibly inspiring to see what real leadership and courage looks like.


Grambling Takes the Low Road: Hue Jackson, the former Oakland Raider and Cleveland Browns head coach, was recently hired as the new head coach at Grambling. One of his first moves was to hire disgraced former Baylor coach Art Briles as his offensive coordinator.


Briles, you may recall, presided over a culture of rampant sexual violence at Baylor where football players routinely abused and assaulted female students. Though Briles was made aware of what was going on, he ignored it, turned a blind eye, and swept it under the rug.


Understandably there was some (pardon the pun) hue and cry over his hiring at Grambling. But Jackson and his Athletic Director were undeterred.


Jackson's defense was, "we've all been knocked down, including myself." And Grambling AD Trayveon Scott, told ESPN, "I think the guy (Briles) just wants to coach and lead men."


The last time Briles led men, there were at least 52 acts of rape committed by 31 of his football players from 2011 to ’14.


As for Jackson, to be sure, he is not the most well-liked or respected coach in football. He held 22 different jobs in a 32-year period from 1990 to 2021, an average of a year and a half at each stop. Even in the transient and insecure world of football coaching, that's an aberration, an indication of a guy who wears out his welcome very quickly.


We've written a lot about the NFL's failure to hire black head coaches, but Jackson got two chances—with the Oakland Raiders, where he lasted a year before a GM change and a late season collapse doomed him, and with the Cleveland Browns, where he posted a 3-36-1 record, the worst in NFL history for anyone who coached at least 40 games.


So now he has been given another chance, this time with an HBCU school, but instead of giving an opportunity to a rising black offensive strategist, he went with a white offensive coordinator who is a pariah in his profession.


As one longtime observer commented, "only someone like Hue Jackson would hire Art Briles."


Indeed.


Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//gacavalli49@gmail.com