LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Is the A&M System and Board Responsible for Prairie View’s Past and Present Football Woes?
An article entitled ERIC DOOLEY NAMED HEAD FOOTBALL COACH of the Prairie View A&M University Panthers recently appeared in the Forward Times newspaper. Basically, the story was the verbatim press release of PVAMU’s Athletics Department. Readers of the story would likely have formed the impression that Dooley’s hiring was a welcome development for all concerned. However, readers would have formed a false impression. Dooley’s hiring was aggressively and vigorously opposed by a substantial number of PVAMU alums.
The process employed for hiring a new head football coach was managed by PVAMU’s latest on-the-job-trainee Athletics Director Ashley Robinson. Robinson has been the Panthers’ Athletics Director since 2013. His prior experience as an athletics director consists entirely of a 9-month stint at his tiny alma mater, Mississippi Valley State University.
None of Robinson’s head coach hires at PVAMU have ever won a conference title, including, but not limited to, the head football coach that Dooley replaced. Indeed, for the 2016-2017 season, Robinson had only one conference title – out of 18 sports teams – which was in women’s bowling, led by a head coach that Robinson didn’t hire.
Before the process even began, Robinson had predetermined that he was going to hire Eric Dooley. Notwithstanding his predetermination, Robinson and the administration engaged in the charade of announcing that a national search would be conducted for candidates for the job.
Also, in furtherance of such a charade, the administration convened a “search-and-selection” committee, ostensibly, to find and recommend a head football coach. In reality, the committee was formed to rubber-stamp Robinson’s predetermined choice of Dooley for the job. As usual, the members of the committee were entirely selected by the administration. Also, as usual, neither the alumni association nor the student government association had a say in who would serve on the committee. The process was additionally flawed in that no finalists for the position were announced to the public before Dooley was hired, nor was the public afforded an opportunity to see and question the finalists for the job before Dooley was hired.
DOOLEY IS MORE OF THE SAME THING
Robinson’s choice of Dooley was a mistake for three reasons. One, Dooley’s qualifications are very similar to the qualifications of Dooley’s two immediately preceding predecessors – both of whom failed to win a championship. Two, Dooley’s qualifications do not match the qualifications and attributes of championship winning head football coaches in this the Southwestern Athletics Conference and other conferences. And three, Dooley does not project a desirable public image of the university and the football program. That fact was amply evidenced at the press conference announcing his hiring. It can be viewed on the Panthers Sports Network.
Dooley is a Louisiana native. His schooling was in Louisiana. His entire coaching career has been in Louisiana, except for a 3-year stint in Arkansas. No Louisiana college or university ever hired Dooley as a head football coach.
First, the last 21 years of Dooley’s college coaching career was spent in the SWAC, as an assistant coach. During those 21 years, none of Dooley’s former employers ever promoted him to head coach. No college or university, prior to Robinson doing so, ever hired him away from his employment to be a head coach.
Second, the Panthers’ main problem for the last 15 or so years has been defense. The Panthers have been able to score enough points to win games. However, their opponents outscored them. So, with defense as the Panthers’ main problem, what did Robinson do? He hired Dooley, an offensive coordinator, whose claim to fame is offense, not defense. Indeed, Dooley is the second consecutive offensive coordinator hired by Robinson as the Panthers’ head football coach in the face of the Panthers’ defense problem. He didn’t win a championship.
Like Dooley, PVAMU’s last three head football coaches were from out-of-state. All three of them lacked vital Texas recruiting relationships and connections, and were thus unable to perform the vital function of fully and properly recruiting Texas. All three were not PVAMU-alum hires. Two of the three were recycled SWAC coaches with no head coaching experience. And, two of the three did not win a division or conference championship at PVAMU, and the third one won only one division title and only one conference title.
Next, a consistent pattern of qualifications and attributes of championship winning head football coaches exists. Grambling State University, the 2017 SWAC football Western Division and conference champion, is located in Louisiana. GSU’s head football coach is a native of Louisiana and a GSU alumnus. Alcorn State University, the 2017 SWAC football Eastern Division winner, is located in Mississippi. ASU’s head football coach is a native of Mississippi and an ASU alumnus. The 2017 winner of the Celebration Bowl, played between the SWAC conference champion and the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference champion, was the MEAC conference champion North Carolina A&T State University. NCATSU’s head football coach is a native of North Carolina. Thus, the evidence strongly suggests that the winning formula for a Panthers’ head football coach is an in-state alumnus.
So, what did Robinson do? He hires Dooley, an out-of-state, recycled-SWAC, non-alumnus, head-coach trainee as the Panthers’ head football coach.
DOOLEY LACKS A HEAD COACH IMAGE
Then, there’s this. You would only need to watch the press conference announcing Dooley’s hiring to know that Dooley is more likely to be mistaken for a Louisiana farm hand than a NCAA Division I head football coach. He was embarrassing. Let’s just say that Dooley is not on a first name basis with the English language. And, he was totally confused about what job he was hired to do. He repeatedly said that he was hired to take over the university.
As such, hiring Dooley was a mistake.
STILL ON THE PLANTATION
In its infinite wisdom, the State of Texas prophetically chose the site of the former Alta Vista slave plantation for PVAMU’s campus, and placed PVAMU under the total domination and control of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. The arrangement represents a lingering vestige and badge and incident of slavery.
The System and the Board have dominated and controlled PVAMU like a plantation since PVAMU’s inception in 1876. So, the Dooley mistake to alums is not a mistake at all to the System and the Board. Rather, it is as intended. The nature and extent of PVAMU’s athletics record over the last 50 years defies the principles of probability and statistics for chance occurrences. One, the football Panthers hold the NCAA Division I record for the longest losing streak in intercollegiate sports history, and has only one conference championship in the last 50 years. The men’s basketball Panthers have only one conference championship in the last 50 or so years, and was the first NCAA Division I team to go winless an entire season in the last 50 years, and its 1991-1992 team is rated the worst team ever. And, to add to that, Robinson had only one conference championship – out of 18 sports teams – for the 2016-2017 season.
Importantly, the sham process employed as well as the purposeful mistake itself in hiring Dooley was blessed by PVAMU’s recently appointed 72-year-old, unretired-retiree President Ruth Simmons. Simmons was admittedly too “old” and too “tired” to be President of PVAMU. She was herself appointed by the System and the Board in an irregular and sham manner. She lacks the relevant qualifications to be President of PVAMU. Like Robinson, she has no track record of hiring championship winning coaches. And, she was apparently not appointed to fully and properly run PVAMU and to educate and graduate its students, but rather, to facilitate the System’s and the Board’s agenda to change PVAMU’s Black identity, history and culture under the guise of a shadowy affirmative-action “diversity” program.
In short, PVAMU, under the domination and control of the System and the Board, was not and is not about academic and athletic excellence or educating and graduating PVAMU’s students. Rather, it was and is about African American oppression, subordination, assimilation and conformity.
Accordingly, replacement of the System and the Board with PVAMU’s own Board of Regents, comprised of and selected by PVAMU’s own alumni, is the answer to the Dooley mistake as well as the answer to PVAMU’s governance, leadership, academics and athletics woes.