Coaches shrug off milestone

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Saturday's game matches two black head coaches.

Saturday's college football game between Southeast Missouri State and Indiana State has little in common with last year's Super Bowl.

But there will be one similarity.

The Colts' Tony Dungy and the Bears' Lovie Smith comprised the first matchup between black head coaches in Super Bowl history.

Saturday's contest at Houck Stadium is believed to be the first Division I-AA game featuring two black head coaches, excluding contests between historically black institutions.

There are only four current black head coaches among Division I-AA's 103 non-historically black institutions.

Two of those four are Southeast's Tony Samuel and Indiana State's Lou West.

"I really [hadn[']t] even thought about it," Samuel said. "But I'm looking forward to the day that's not an issue."

West said much the same thing during a telephone interview.

"I haven't thought about it," West said when told of Samuel's comments. "Just like last year in the Super Bowl, until somebody brought it up, I'm sure they [Dungy and Smith] hadn't thought about it."

Samuel, who was also one of the few black Division I-A head coaches during his tenure at New Mexico State from 1997 to 2004, said he believes it's only a matter of time before more teams in college football's highest two divisions feature black head coaches.

There are currently five black head coaches among the nation's 119 Division I-A programs. Twelve times a Division I-A game has featured two black head coaches.

"When I was hired at New Mexico State, I think I was one of three," Samuel said. "We know there are plenty of capable people.

"You'll see it more and more. It's already started in [college] basketball."

Said West: "There will be more and more in the future."

West, whose squad is 0-2 this season and 1-23 since he was hired in 2005, laughed when asked how important it is for him to be involved in the historic matchup.

"I'm more worried about trying to win this game," he said. "I know coach Samuel feels the same way."

And in a somewhat curious twist, West won't be on the sidelines Saturday.

West will serve a one-game suspension from the NCAA because the ISU used an ineligible player last year during its lone win, over Missouri State.

According to ISU spokesman Ace Hunt, the player in question was a walk-on who participated in a handful of kickoff coverage plays. Hunt said ISU officials reported the infraction.

The NCAA ruled following the season that West would have to sit out one game this year. Hunt said West and ISU officials decided it would be this one.

Offensive coordinator Blair Hrovat will serve as acting head coach, but West, who will watch from the press box, will be credited with the win or loss.

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