We’ve learned nationally that Black men are under attack in this country — just look at our prisons. They seem to be under attack in Minnesota sports as well. Since I’ve been in Minnesota, I have witnessed three glaring examples of Black coaches being treated unfairly and fired for no reason despite winning and being successful. That specific history here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and Minnesota Nice is warming up to repeat itself.
From 1992-2001, Dennis Green was head coach of the Vikings. In his 10 years he guided the Vikings to the playoffs eight times. He founded the community relations program. He signed Randall Cunningham, NFL MVP, and drafted Randy Moss, Korey Stringer, Robert Smith and Daunte Culpepper.
He made Cris Carter a starter and hired Tony Dungy as defensive coordinator and Brian Billick as offensive coordinator. Both went on to win Super Bowls as head coaches.
Green set a Vikings record in 1998 going 16-2, at the time the highest scoring team in NFL history. He won four playoff games and reached two NFC Championship games. He was fired in 2001 after a cabal-like media environment swept through Winter Park.
Since 2001, the Vikings have had four head coaches. Only one, Brad Childress, reached the playoffs twice and the NFC Championship game. The others — Mike Tice, Lesley Frazier and current coach Mike Zimmer — have reached the playoffs once each. That’s five playoff teams, and it’s 2016.
Tubby Smith was head coach of men’s basketball at the University of Minnesota for six years. Three years ago he was fired by Norwood Teague, the new athletic director. Smith had reached the NCAA Men’s tournament three times, including his final year.
He also beat the number-one team in the nation, Indiana University, the same year he was fired. Teague replaced Smith with Richard Pitino. Teague was later fired in a massive scandal last year after being accused of sexual harassment.
The 2015-16 Minnesota season was awful: The Gophers were 8-23 and finished 13th in the 14-team BIG conference. Pitino has zero NCAA appearances; 2016-17 will be year four.
NBA Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor hired Dwayne Casey as head coach 2006-07 and fired him after 40 games. The Wolves were 20-20 when he was let go. The Timberwolves have missed the playoffs now 12 years in a row and have not been at .500 since Casey was fired, and it’s 2016.
The Timberwolves are 24-49 with nine games left in the 2016 season. They again are headed to the NBA lottery. Interim Coach Sam Mitchell replaced team part-owner and coach Flip Saunders after his tragic death in November of 2015.
Mitchell has done a good job developing the four 20-year-old future stars and teaching them how to play in the NBA as a competitive unit. Last week they were tied 101-101 with a minute left against Golden State before losing 109-104.
Last year’s team coached by Saunders was 16-66. Milt Newton is the general manager now in the third year of his three-year contract. Not many around town are advising owner Glen Taylor to retain Mitchell and Newton for 2017.
I ask you, what would Saunders’ record be if he were alive and coaching this team? Since we can’t answer that, you would have to say that Taylor should stay the course. After all, Saunders hired Newton and Mitchell and drafted the young core of talented 20-year-olds: Andrew Wiggins, Karl Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine and Tyus Jones.
The consensus in town in the majority media is telling Taylor to fire everybody and bring in a new GM and head coach. Did you expect them to support Taylor staying the course with Mitchell and Newton, the guys that Saunders said are his guys who understand the plan he put in place?
Minnesota is simply not comfortable with Black men in charge, even when they win. I”m not making this up — I have given you three clear historic examples. Stay tuned and watch if Taylor again listens to the media cabal and screws up this situation. After all, Minnesota has a history of assassinating Black coaches.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.