Mark Gray

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Black college football takes a beating

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


Another black eye for Black college football? First we shockingly learned of the horrific locker-room conditions that ultimately forced the Grambling football players to stop playing for at least a few days. Then the Winston-Salem starting quarterback recently gets jumped on while in the bathroom at a league-sponsored luncheon, allegedly assaulted by a member of the other team. This forced Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) officials to cancel not only the championship football game, but the scheduled Winston-Salem-Virginia State volleyball match as well that weekend. “I didn’t believe it — I thought it was a joke,” admits Terrill Battle, Winston-Salem alumnus, Class of ’92. Continue Reading →

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Grambling State football in turmoil over athletic conditions

Although the Grambling State football players are back at practice and expect to play the rest of the season, the reasons why they didn’t play last week still remain unresolved. “Although we are going to continue our season, we have not forgotten the situation and how we’ve gotten here,” said Grambling senior Naquan Smith on Monday to and the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. The team forfeited last Saturday’s game at Jackson State after the players chose not to practice or play. In a letter sent to Grambling school administration, the players wrote, “The athletic complex…is in horrible condition, and has many hazards that may contribute to our overall health…mildew and mold…on the

ceiling, walls and floor.”

They also complained about the poor facility conditions and practice equipment: “The uniforms are poorly cleaned and contribute to the multiple cases of staph infection. Several players have been infected with staph multiple times.”

“The last issue we would like to address is the firing of our head coach, Doug Williams,” added the players. Continue Reading →

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Twins’ diversity talk seems mostly for show




A new movie on the life of Jackie Robinson premieres Friday. It has support from people in high places. “We think that everybody in this country needs to watch this movie,” advises First Lady Michelle Obama on the movie 42 after she and her husband, President Barack Obama viewed a private screening last week at the White House. The first of several Minnesota Twins “Diversity Days” will be Monday April 15, the day Major League Baseball (MLB) annually honors Robinson’s major league debut in 1947. “It was an important and powerful moment in baseball when Jackie Robinson broke in with the Brooklyn Dodgers,” recalls Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Continue Reading →

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Another View Extra — Coaching Gopher basketball a career killer




By Charles Hallman


Only two coaches in Minnesota men’s basketball history have ever led teams to a national championship: Clem Haskins won two NIT crowns in the 1990s, and Tubby Smith won the 1998 NCAA title at Kentucky. Both Black men have the most 20-win seasons: seven for Haskins and five for Smith. However, both men also have the dubious honor to have been fired at Minnesota. Despite a 511-226 career record in 22 seasons, Smith unfortunately is a victim of college sports’ “What have you done for me lately?” philosophy. “When you let a guy go with the character and the skill of Tubby Smith, you better have an idea of somebody who can turn things around, and I don’t know of any of the elite coaches [seeking the Gophers job],” says Washington, D.C. radio host Mark Gray.  “I don’t know what direction they are going, but you are trading a sense of value when you disrespect a guy who’s a Hall of Fame-caliber coach.”

Minnesota AD Norwood Teague thinks that the next coach will have an easier time than Smith did selling the idea to blue-chippers that playing in a “classic” Williams Arena, a place that only looks good when it’s full of people, is an urban hoopster’s dream. Continue Reading →

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Gophers fire a great coach rather than build a great team — Tubby’s gone. Who’s next?


Former U of M coach Tubby Smith was not fired last week but weeks earlier by the information bubble-blowing media. One knuckleheaded bubble-blower said on local sports radio a few weeks earlier that the only active Black coach to win a national championship “had no credibility.”

“We live in a state where we’re used to inconsistency and a lot of fair-weather fans,” notes former KFAN host Henry Lake. “They went all in emotionally when the Gophers got ranked eighth in the country, and when they started to struggle the fans got bitter… Also factor in the media pressure from certain individuals in town that built the momentum up and ramp it up for changes to be made.”

“I think [Smith] did a masterful job rebuilding a dead program in Minnesota,” says Washington, D.C. radio talk host Mark Gray.  

Gophers AD Norwood Teague, during his March 25 press conference following the announcement earlier that day of Smith’s firing after six seasons, claimed, “We made this decision based on an evaluation of the overall body of work.”

Then let’s look at Smith’s “body of work” and compare it to his three predecessors after their six years at Minnesota:

Tubby Smith (2007-12): 124-81

Jim Dutcher (1975-81): 108-61

Clem Haskins (1986-92): 89-90

Dan Monson (1999-2004): 100-86

Unfortunately, too many locals got Gopher-giddy when the team’s No. 8 ranking in early January ultimately didn’t mean Bo Diddly. Continue Reading →

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Resolved: to pop ‘information bubbles’ whenever possible in 2013

National columnist Jason Whitlock coined a term for a certain phenomenon back in October. This phenomenon was seen and heard endlessly during the presidential campaign and throughout out President Obama’s first term: claims that he’s not a real American and other such nonsense. Whitlock calls it an “information bubble” when people “avoid hearing their perspectives challenged in a credible way…” Such bubbles are ever present in sports, especially in sports talk, whether verbally or through the written word. Black quarterbacks historically are recipients of information bubble baths. Gophers senior QB MarQueis Gray and former Vikings signal-caller Travaris Jackson both were bubbled throughout their respective careers around these parts. Continue Reading →

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There’s nothing else quite like Black college football

I’ve attended my share of Gopher football games over the years, but those games are mostly anti-climatic and the home school band painfully plays the same tired old songs. I have yet to see in person a Black college football game, but a good friend of mine tells me once you go Black (college football), you don’t go back. “Unlike major college football, Black college football is the African American pastime,” states Mark Gray, who broadcasts HBCU games for the Heritage Sports Radio Network.  It “is part cultural, part show. It touches a place in your soul that you didn’t know was there until it gets there.”

Black college bands and their halftime shows are as much an integral part of Black college football as the teams. “I know a lot of people want to see those bands as part of the overall [Black college] experience,” says Gray. “At major college games, people leave [their seats] at halftime to get their refreshments. Continue Reading →

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More than ever, all-Black sports radio’s time has come



A Spanish all-sports station may soon debut in New York City. Yet there’s still not an all-Black sports radio station anywhere in this country, neither on terrestrial regular radio nor on the nation’s only satellite radio service, SiriusXM. Before the FCC approved the Sirius-XM merger in 2008, we were told that new channels for underserved communities would be established. However, only one Black-oriented channel from Howard University has been added post-merger. There’s a “Mad Dog” sports channel and a fantasy sports channel, but not one channel with Blacks talking sports all the time. Continue Reading →

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