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Mr. Whitlock, Maybe You're the Racist

Jason Whitlock, when it comes to color issues, the only color I paint you is yellow – as in "yellow journalist."

For those of you who missed it, Whitlock argued on ESPN's Page 2 that Charlie Weis' contract extension is an act of racism. After forcing myself to read his drivel and then sift through the angry messages he fielded on an ESPN chat wrap the next day, it seems clear to me that Whitlock's declaration is based more on emotion than fact. To me, this makes his latest piece an act of overt racism.

To be fair, let's analyze the facts on which he is basing his thesis. Tyrone Willingham opened the 2002 season 8-0. Weis opened the 2005 season 5-2. Willingham did not receive a contract extension. Weis did. Willingham was given three years before Notre Dame removed him. Other (white) coaches with similar winning percentages were given more time.

If we stopped there, Whitlock might seem to have a point. However, when you only look at the facts that help your argument, you can prove just about anything. Take Platonian logic for example: God is love. Love is blind. Ray Charles was blind. Ray Charles was God. Okay, I digress, but the point stands. Taken alone, each of these sentences represents either an indisputable fact or a widely accepted philosophy, except for the conclusion of course.

Now, Whitlock insists that he had no problem with the Willingham firing. He says that he thinks Weis is a superior coach. He claims his only problem is that Weis received an extension while Willingham did not, even though Willingham had a superior record after eight games. Notre Dame gave a contract extension to Weis, their current white coach, not Willingham, their former black coach.

If it’s truly racism, I guess it's religious bigotry, too. Ara Parseghian opened 9-0 and did not receive a contract extension. He was a Protestant. Obviously, the Papists hate Prots. Bias toward Swedes? Must be, because Knute Rockne had a three-year record of 21-1-2, but no contract extension.

Whitlock ruled out the possibility of Notre Dame reacting to negative publicity surrounding the potential departure of Weis to the NFL. There are no NFL job openings, he surmised. He's absolutely right. There are no NFL job openings. However, recruiting wars are fought early each year, and Notre Dame is battling it out right now for a few blue chips. In that recruiting brawl, Weis' contract extension was a haymaker. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I've met Coach Willingham several times, and as a former member of the press I had a professional relationship with him. He's a great man. He always treated me with respect, and I in turn respect him for these things. But Willingham was not up to the challenge of coaching elite Division I-A football, and his three-year resume at Notre Dame is a reflection of that. Willingham was fired for underproduction, not race.

The real racists are the Mark Mays and Jason Whitlocks of the world, who cannot discern a business decision from a hate-based one. The hate lies with you, gentlemen, not Notre Dame.

Comments

Here's a worthwhile supplement to my argument: http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=3496

I agree with your points, Gerry. ESPN sucks.

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