I made a mistake in lashing out on my Facebook page against prominent University of Texas booster Red McCombs for his dismissive comments on Texas’ hire of former Louisville head coach Charlie Strong to coach its football team. In case y’all have forgotten what McCombs said about the hire of Strong:
“I think the whole thing is a bit sideways. I don’t have any doubt that Charlie is a fine coach. I think he would make a great position coach, maybe a coordinator. But I don’t believe [he belongs at] what should be one of the three most powerful university programs in the world right now at UT-Austin. I don’t think it adds up.”
I was wrong – and a bit irresponsible – for implying that McCombs was racist.
When McCombs owned the Minnesota Vikings, he retained head coach Dennis Green (a brother), and personally liked him a lot. When McCombs owned the San Antonio Spurs, he hired John Lucas (a brother) to coach his team. To this day, McCombs respects the hell out of Lucas. By the way, just because I do not think McCombs was racist it doesn’t mean that he is not capable of saying racist things.
Nevertheless, I do not know McCombs. I do not know his heart. However, what McCombs said was extremely arrogant – and a bit uncomfortable.
Let me touch on the arrogance part of the equation.
In my 40 years of life, I have encountered my fair share of annoying college fans. They are mostly fans of UNC, Ohio State, and Texas. Texas fans are perhaps the most arrogant.
You have to understand the culture of the University (and the state) of Texas to appreciate my point. Football is king in the state of Texas. The University of Texas is the flagship school of that state, and those rich boosters (many of them flowing in oil money) do more than enough to ensure that the school keeps most of the local high school talent in-state – as well as plucking some from other recruiting hotbeds. McCombs himself has given over $100 million to the school.
And the enormous financial contributions have contributed to the following: the biggest budget in all of collegiate athletics, the top spot in the Wall Street Journal’s “Most Valuable Team in College Football” at $875 million, the best facilities in college football, and the Longhorn Network. Y’all know what they say about the state of Texas – “everything is bigger”.
So having shared all of what the university has to offer recruits, you have to figure the mindset of an average Texas booster is that only the biggest names deserve to coach the Longhorns. Enter McCombs’ comments about Strong. McCombs reportedly wanted Jon Gruden (as if Gruden would ever leave the comfy confines of Monday Night Football). McCombs also felt left out of the job search conducted by the new athletics director Steve Patterson. If that’s not arrogant, I don’t know what is.
McCombs was very dismissive towards Strong’s coaching acumen. Never mind the fact that Strong finished with a 37-15 record (including wins in the Sugar and Russell Athletic Bowls) at Louisville. To see someone dismiss someone’s accomplishments publicly like that was a bit uncomfortable to me.
To sum it up, do I think McCombs is a pompous ass? Hell yes I do. Do I think McCombs is a racist? I don’t know. I will say this: without knowing the context behind the person and the story, perception could very well become reality.