|“White boys” like former Arkansas running back Peyton Hillis aren’t supposed to play in the SEC|
We all have things that interest us in life. For me, my most poignant memories will always center around football. Whether it involves going to college football games to tailgate with family and friends, playing the game, or watching my alma mater, nothing beats fall Saturday’s.
Being relatively young, I was born years after the Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams finally integrated. At first, the quality and character of the Black student-athlete recruited was quite high, but this mindset evaporated quickly to the point where SEC schools now recruit Black athlete-students who barely qualify for admission to the schools (South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier complained about admission requirements keeping out talented Black athletes) that are in the conference.
Sports Illustrated published an article in 1991 that bragged how Black people now dominated the SEC. Here are some excerpts from that story:
Even now he has vivid memories of games at Auburn, where the kindest chant was “Char-coal, char-coal,” and of games at Mississippi, where Confederate flags were wielded with malice. Those were the most nightmarish trips for Vanderbilt’s Perry Wallace, who in the winter of 1967-68 became the Southeastern Conference’s first black varsity basketball player. He tried to block out the jeers, the taunts and the slurs, but sometimes it was impossible. Sometimes his palms would get so sweaty that a pass would slip through his hands, or he would get so jittery that he would have to go to the bench amid hoots of derision.
“Those were scary, scary situations,” says Wallace, now an attorney in Washington, D.C., and a law professor at Baltimore University. “Every time we had a road trip, I approached it with the deepest sense of dread.”
Today that all seems so long ago and so strange. Indeed, no league in the nation has benefited more from integration—check out all those postseason bowl and NCAA basketball invitations—than the SEC, which fought it the hardest. This season the conference’s football teams are 57% black, its basketball teams 64%.
The SEC has been enriched by so many outstanding black athletes—names like Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley leap to mind—that it is difficult to remember that when Wallace made his debut for Vandy, the threat of violence was as real and near as the redneck hecklers sitting just behind the benches. David Sansing, a professor of history at Mississippi, remembers those times when he listens to the current debate on campus over the Alumni Association’s request to Ole Miss fans not to wave Confederate flags at athletic events because doing so is an insult to blacks. “When you get down to it,” says Sansing, “white Southerners and black Southerners still live in a world apart from each other, but it’s better, and athletics has been a part of it. Take this flag thing. Twenty-five or 30 years ago, a white man could literally kill a black person in Mississippi without much fear of reprisal. Now we’re talking about being insensitive to the feelings of blacks and scolding people for it. That’s a hell of a difference.”
The South was a racial battleground all through the 1960s, and its collegiate athletic teams, the most visible symbols of both the region’s pride and its prejudice, were caught up in the emotions. Somehow, breaking the color barrier wasn’t as difficult in the SEC’s neighboring leagues, the Atlantic Coast and Southwest conferences, perhaps because Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the other civil rights leaders chose to fight in the heart of Dixie. The ACC was quietly integrated by Maryland, where the pioneers were football player Darryl Hill in 1963 and basketball player Billy Jones in ’66. Nor was there much of a stir in the SWC when Texas Christian’s James Cash became its first black basketball player in 1965 and Baylor’s John Westbrook became the league’s first black football player a year later.
|Daniel Sorensen (#9) stated the “white boys” from BYU will show the SEC|
What’s funny is that now white people get jitters when they drive into Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, Jackson (Mississippi), Memphis, Knoxville, Columbia, Tallahassee, the wrong parts of Tuscaloosa, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and other Southern cities because Black people make them unsafe.
Sadly, it is the sons of these Black people that SEC (and ACC, Big East and other college football conferences) schools recruit with reckless abandon – many times going on probation for cheating during the recruiting process – though they have no desire to interact with these Black people outside of football Saturday’s.
We have pointed that college baseball is more in line with the racial breakdown of SEC student enrollment, with white players comprising the bulk of the rosters. However, college football is the exact opposite. The University of Mississippi Rebels Brown Bears have thrown away all of their traditions (read this article by me at Alternative Right on the situation) in the vain pursuit of landing Black athlete-students to lead them back to the glory days of Rebel football — when the team was all-white and actually won games.
The University of Mississippi has a student body population that is 82 percent white and 13 percent Black, but will see only four white players start on the football this season (out of 22 positions – 11 on offense and 11 on defense). The rest of the teams in the SEC are just as white – in terms of student body – but some are even worse when it comes to the football players. Here is Caste Football with a breakdown of the 2011 starters for the 12 SEC teams compared to the Mountain West Conference:
One way to see how Southern teams discriminate against White athletes more than any other conference in the country is to compare the darkest conference in the country, the SEC, with the Whitest conference in the country, the MWC. Even the high black populations in the states of the Old South don’t account for or excuse this extreme level of anti-white discrimination. Shown below are the number of White starters for each team.
Total of 53/264 (20.08%) in the SEC
San Diego State-12/22
Total of 90/176 (51.14%) in the MWC
I pointed out in an article called The Opiate of America that the bulk of Black athlete-students enrolled at major colleges and universities would never have qualified and received special admission wavers were they not athletes. The reality of that statement is going to become increasingly clear this week during our college football preview.
I’ve thought a lot about this quote from 1955 that will be quoted below and I have finally realized I agree with it. Completely. This is from Time magazine:
Two thousand students from the Georgia Institute of Technology stormed through Atlanta one night last week, whooping up and down Peachtree Street, pushing aside troopers who tried to bar their way, and generally raising hell. At the State Capitol, the boys pulled fire hoses from their racks, adorned the sculpt head of Civil War Hero John Gordon with an ashcan. A dozen effigies of Governor Marvin Griffin were hanged and burned during the students’ march, which culminated in a 2 a.m. riot in front of the governor’s mansion.
Earlier in the day, the governor had incurred their wrath by a pinhead act: he asked the State Board of Regents to forbid the athletic teams of the university system of Georgia (e.g., Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia) from participating in games against any team with Negro players, or even playing in any stadium where unsegregated audiences breathed the same air.
“The South stands at Armageddon,” brayed Griffin to the regents. “The battle is joined. We cannot make the slightest concession to the enemy in this dark and lamentable hour of struggle. There is no more difference in compromising the integrity of race on the playing field than in doing so in the classrooms. One break in the dike and the relentless seas will rush in and destroy us.”*
The governor had a specific game in mind: Georgia Tech had contracted to play the University of Pittsburgh in New Orleans’ Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2. Pitt has been selling its block of tickets on a desegregated basis, and Bobby Grier, a Pitt reserve fullback, is a Negro.