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Monday, January 21, 2008

Yes, recruiting update coming. Your Pryor update: everyone says everything.

Ugly. Calvin Magee, Michigan's new offensive coordinator, believes he was not a serious candidate for the West Virginia head coaching job because he's black:

"For seven years I was told that once you're a Mountaineer, you're always a Mountaineer," said Magee, a Wolverine now after resigning Jan. 4 to become Rich Rodriguez's associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Michigan. "I bought into that. But I found out ... that isn't true."

He understands that some people, especially those who harbor resentment for all things Rodriguez, will consider his viewpoint jaundiced because he is so aligned with the new Michigan coach. Magee doesn't back down from his support for and gratitude to Rodriguez. Yet he feels stereotyped as a minority coach -- "racial discrimination and harassment" was how his and Rodriguez's agent, Mike Brown, described West Virginia's handling of Magee in the end -- and thereby disappointment about West Virginia administrators and for other qualified potential coaching candidates who happen to be a minority.

Who's up for another round of recriminations? Super!

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article is a good one, deep and balanced with quotes from both sides. It's all very complicated; from this vantage point the inevitable reaction (which you can already see swinging into action in Ivan Maisel's piece) is going to be of the "over-" variety. Maisel leads with an incident in which a member of WVU's athletic department told Magee that in his opinion he would not be a serious candidate because of his excessive melanin content. This constitutes one dude's thought processes about other people's thought processes and is not indicative of anything except said dude's general cynicism about race relations at WVU. It is not actual evidence of racism.

Is there evidence? Well, yes and no. The embarrassing paucity of black D-I head coaches would be a lot simpler to address if people went around being flagrantly racist in ways that yielded a firing and a spanking. It is not so. Each decision to hire a Not Black guy is individually reasonable and defensible; it's only in the seven-of-119 aggregate that there's clear evidence of a problem.

In this situation there's a reason Magee was passed over that has nothing to do with his race and everything to do with his decision to get on a plane with Rich Rodriguez and go to Michigan's introductory press conference. Given WVU's deep draught of Rodriguez haterade, anyone who publicly affiliated himself with the Great Satan was dead in the eyes of WVU's athletic department. Witness the petulance in the immediate aftermath of the plane flight:
"Two days later [Dec. 19], I got my phone confiscated from me and was told not to make any recruiting calls. So immediately after seven years of service, I thought, 'Why are they doing this to me?' On their behalf, I got an apology the next day [from Athletic Director Ed Pastilong] and given all the stuff back."
Magee, still employed by West Virginia and planning on coaching the bowl game, was hassled as he tried to prepare his team. This was probably not because of his skin tone.

Ultimately, WVU made a stupidly emotional decision, and while it is kind of funny that these stupidly emotional decisions usually end up with a completely unqualified white dude in charge in this WVU is no different than most schools. What happened to Magee could have happened anywhere.

And the timing? Makes this look like a counter-smear of the Rodriguez smear, which seems petty and vindictive. To be clear: Magee doesn't come off like that in the article; he has a legit beef with the way things ended at WVU. But from the aerial view it's just going to look like a bunch of douchebags covered in mud. Can all this end, like, now? The next I'd like to hear about Rodriguez and West Virginia would be "lawsuit settled for undisclosed amount of dollars," and then we can move on with our lives.

Matters of state. West Virginia governor Joe Manchin:
"As far as everyone I know -- and that includes the president and the athletic director and most of the staff -- there is no smear campaign,'' Manchin told The Charleston Gazette. "The facts are simply what they are.''
Yes, the "facts" like "Rodriguez shredded the entire building! We're very cold now! And the heating bill is super high!"

Jennifer Granholm has not, as of yet, offered her opinion on the controversy. Probably because she's the governor.