I just finished reading Courage Beyond the Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story by Jim Dent. Having been made aware of Freddie Steinmark’s incredible story by reading Horn, Hogs & Nixon Coming: Texas vs. Arkansas in Dixie’s Last Stand , I found myself overcome with emotion after reading Dent’s new book.
Steinmark was an undersized white defensive back that played for the University of Texas from 1967 – 1969. He was part of the 1969 National Championship team at Texas, the last all-white university to win that honor. That season, Steinmark would play every game with debilitating pain in his leg but would still lead Texas’s defensive secondary as the starting safety.
Only after the “Game of the Century” was played with Arkansas – they also fielded an all-white squad – would Steinmark learn that he had bone cancer and immediately he would have his leg amputated. Within a couple of years, he was dead.
A devout Catholic, Steinmark was studying to be a chemical engineer. Sure he would have liked to make it to the NFL, but with his size he would need different vocational aspirations. Tragically bone cancer would end all of that.
Starting Friday, SBPDL will unveil a radical look at the 2011 college football season. It might surprise you to learn that most of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) football teams didn’t integrate until the early 1970s. In this preview (largely of the SEC), you will learn how these universities sport student bodies that are almost all more than 90 percent white, but have football teams that are more than 80 percent Black.
College football was far more popular in the 1950s – 1970s then it is now. The difference between now and then is that every game is televised, Internet message boards and recruiting Web sites allow every minor or major nuance of a program to be tracked and discussed, and salaries for the coaches and revenue generated through television contracts means big time money is flowing into the various athletic conferences aligned with the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).
But perhaps the most obvious difference is the preponderance of Black athletes, the majority of whom have no business being admitted to a major university were it not for the perceived need to recruit Black players to stay competitive. Steve Spurrier, the head coach of South Carolina, nearly quit over academic standards for enrollment to the university that disqualified Black football recruits (calling them student-athletes is disrespectful to all of the actual student-athletes who once played for South Carolina before integration).
It is hard to imagine a major university in 2011 recruiting a white boy like Freddie Steinmark to play defensive back.
An article on former Notre Dame safety (2003-2006) and current Baltimore Raven defensive back Tom Zbikowski contained this nugget of wisdom:
“When you’re a white athlete, you’re never fast,” Ed (Zbikowski, Tom’s father) said without a hint of resentment or disrespect in his voice. “It’s reality, and we dealt with it.”
Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CSTV and the Prep Football Report, said Zbikowski’s saga is hardly isolated.
“When it comes to football, white athletes have to prove themselves more than black athletes at certain positions — cornerback, wide receiver and running back,” Lemming said. “There’s a prejudice amongst a lot of college coaches — not all of them — that white guys can’t play those positions. So when they get to college, they get switched right away to other positions.
Lemming was quoted in The Blind Side saying something quite similar (page 37):
“And there were anti-types: lord help the white receiver or the white running back, or until the earlier 1990s, the black quarterback.”
The character and quality of the student-athletes recruited by major college and universities has changed dramatically since i ntegration and the major programs became majority Black. Whereas college football – it was arguably more popular before integration than after in most places – used to have athletes represent colleges and universities who had aspirations of becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers, scholars, and businessman, now multi-million dollar academic centers are erected on campuses with the hopes of keeping Black players academically eligible.
Never mind how rare it is to find an academically eligible Black athlete ready for college, a large percentage of the Black athletes playing in football stadiums across the nation on beautiful fall afternoons in front of crowds – that consist of 95-99 percent white alumni, fans, or current students – are recruited only for their athletic abilities. Jim Harbaugh, the former coach of Stanford and current San Francisco 49ers coach, refused to coach at Michigan because they recruit “poor academic students.”
Harbaugh’s teams at Stanford started anywhere from 14 – 17 white players, a far cry from the University of Florida in 2011, who will only start a white quarterback out of the 22 starters. Florida has a student body that is 63 percent white and roughly 8.5 percent of the student body is Black.
The past two college football seasons have seen unprecedented cheating scandals erupt at Auburn University, Ohio State University, University of Oregon, and most recently, the University of Miami. Yahoo sports reporter Charles Robinson broke this story of Thug U – for those unaware, the University of Miami has been known as Thug U since the 1980s when the school started relying on Black thugs to win football games – that shows the out-of-control nature of having Black athletes on a campus where getting a degree is the last thing on their minds:
A University of Miami booster, incarcerated for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, has told Yahoo! Sports he provided thousands of impermissible benefits to at least 72 athletes from 2002 through 2010.
In 100 hours of jailhouse interviews during Yahoo! Sports’ 11-month investigation, Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion.
You can bet that no Freddie Steinmark would be recruited by Thug U (or The U as it has come to be known) to play defensive back in this day and age. The best an individual like Steinmark could hope to do now is play for a Division II or Division III team or try and walk-on at one a school like Miami.
Collegefootballnews.com is the best site for reading about college football and they have had plenty of coverage on the University of Miami scandal. Personally, I think Miami should drop its football program ( Sports Illustrated wrote the same thing back in the early 1990s) and schools should go back to recruiting actual student-athletes, cut-down on creating “fake” degrees – management at Georgia Tech and housing at the University of Georgia that the majority of Black players major in – that Black athletes “cluster” in, and stop accepting special admission students.
Well, in a piece called State of the Game 2011: How to Stop the Cheating , one writer at collegefootballnews.com says this:
By Matt Zemek
Go big if you get just one wish from a college sports genie. My “ONE thing” would be to allow football and basketball players (women’s basketball included) to sign with schools as “football” or “basketball” majors with no requirements to study other courses. “Majoring in football” or basketball would involve agents coming to classrooms to talk about financial management and related topics. Representatives from companies in the athletic-industrial complex would provide lectures and courses on media relations, the science of pharmacology, sports medicine, setting up charitable foundations, and other things that would-be professional athletes should be trained to do. Society would benefit from it, and so would the athletes themselves.
Let’s liberate big-ticket athletes who are interested in careers as athletes or sports broadcasters. However, this act of liberation should bring agents – and other people currently in the shadows of college sports – into the bright sunlight of transparency and accountability. Let agents be educators. Train athletes to be athletes not just in terms of the weight room or the practice field, but in terms of the off-field and at-home obligations they might have when they start families and, ultimately, end their playing careers. Such a systemic shift will in one sense strip away the veneer of amateurism, but in another sense, it will renew it: Sports will be a subject of classroom teaching with an ultimate focus on the whole human person’s lifelong goals, hopes and needs. The NCAA currently presides over a system that incentivizes shadowy and secretive behavior. Let’s do something to incentivize transparency and, even more so, holistic education. Yeah, holistic education – what our universities are ostensibly supposed to provide young people in the first place. What a concept, right?
This proposal by Zemek should be laughed at by anyone hoping to maintain some modicum of academic standards at universities and college and, more importantly, maintain the value of the degree that non-athletes will receive by actually studying and receiving a diploma in a legitimate major.
You know how to liberate college football from a lot of the nasty scandals that we see today? Stop recruiting Black athlete-students that For-Profit universities and colleges wouldn’t accept. Don’t lower standards to allow Black athlete-students with horrible academic transcripts and ACT/SAT scores into the university or college. No more ‘oversigning‘ of players in case a Black athlete fails to academically qualify then another Black athlete can take his place.
Guess what would happen? You’d have your University of Alabama’s, University of Oklahoma’s, and University of Texas’s finding a lot of quality people like Freddie Steinmark again.
And don’t get started on how Black kids are from disadvantaged backgrounds . The only reason they are disadvantaged is because their
parents (well, since the dad is probably out of the picture) mother got knocked up by some Black dude and left them to be cared for by the state. Plenty of white kids are disadvantaged, but it’s in times of recruitment for athletics – most notably football and basketball – that we heart the whining about how some poor Black kid got lousy grades because of a disadvantaged background . Were it not for Section 8 Housing, EBT/Food Stamps, TANF/Welfare, and free lunches at school, how would that Black kid have lived?
Sean and Leigh Anne Roberts Tuohy can’t adopt every potential Michael Oher that Black mother’s neglect afterbirth (that Black father’s don’t even care for in the first place).
The best way to stop the cheating in college football is for National Football League (NFL) teams to start recruiting and training kids when they are in high school like the European soccer teams do with their various academies. Since most Black males don’t finish high school, let NFL teams pick off those that do (but have no business in college) and spend a few years developing them both physically and mentally.
Reading about Freddie Steinmark made me realize what a great country we once were, when college football programs existed, not as a stepping stone to the NFL, but as institutions of pride for entire regions. Strange that when the schools were all-white, actual student-athletes were recruited who would go on to have careers in vocations completely unrelated to football.
Castefootball.us – every year – compiles the racial breakdown of the starting lineups for the major college football programs. It is exhausting work, but it is interesting to see patterns emerge. The SEC has fanbase’s and alumni support that are overwhelmingly white, but football programs that start anywhere from one white player (at the University of Florida) to two white players (the University of Georgia) out of 22 players.
Which teams start the most white players?
2-Air Force, Colorado, Northwestern, Wyoming-15
6-Ball State, BYU, Nebraska, Rice, Stanford, Wisconsin-14
12-Army, Boston College, Washington State-13
15-Kent State, Michigan State, Navy, Ohio, Ohio State, San Diego State-12
Notice any patterns? Not one of those schools is in the south or the SEC. One of the primary reasons for this is because southern schools have no problem accepting and recruiting academically challenged Black athletes. The Wall Street Journal reported this back in 2008:
The historical knock on SEC schools among rivals is that their success is predicated on a willingness to stockpile great players by violating NCAA rules on recruiting and athlete benefits. While some of the sanctions have been minor, every SEC school but Vanderbilt has been on probation in the last 25 years.
Another charge is that lower academic standards give SEC teams an advantage in recruiting. Just three SEC schools — Vanderbilt, Florida and Georgia — were cited among the top 80 universities in U.S. News & World Report’s 2009 college rankings, while all 11 members of the Big Ten were in the top 80. Last year, in a statement on that conference’s Web site, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany wrote: “I love speed and the SEC has great speed … but there are appropriate balances when mixing academics and athletics.” Mr. Delany declined to comment for this story.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive says the SEC has made a point of cleaning up the practices that have led to NCAA sanctions, and that the academic performance of its athletes has improved and all SEC schools are in compliance with the NCAA’s new academic guidelines for athletes. Because the SEC’s schools are located in a economically challenged region, Mr. Slive says, they serve a different mission — to provide opportunity. “There are differences in elementary and secondary-school systems in this part of the country,” he says.
There was a time when schools like Auburn, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, Ole Miss, Clemson, Georgia Tech, UGA and Tennessee didn’t recruit Black players. They still won games and built up traditions without them and this was as late as 1972.
Schools from other regions – the University of Southern California and Michigan State University – would recruit Black players from the south that the SEC schools passed on recruiting. Here’s an article on Michigan State’s Blackness in a 1966 game against Notre Dame:
Before top-ranked Notre Dame played second-ranked Michigan State University (MSU) in November 1966, the media built up the contest as “the game of the century.” It was the first time in college-football history that the top two teams would meet so late in the season. Millions of college-football fans anticipated what they hoped would be “the greatest battle since Hector fought Achilles.” (1) Equally remarkable was the racial makeup of each team: Michigan State would start twelve black players while Notre Dame had only one. By 1966, MSU fielded so many black players that the team was often compared to those of Historically Black Colleges and Universities like Grambling, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical, and Morgan State. (2) For Michigan State star player Charles “Bubba” Smith, a black Texas native who had never played in an integrated stadium until he went to college, this would be the pinnacle of his college career. If Smith symbolized Michigan State football, Jim Lynch, a white Irish-Catholic Ohioan and All-American linebacker, epitomized the kind of player for whom Notre Dame fans were used to cheering. At a pep rally two days before the game, on Notre Dame’s pristine campus in South Bend, Indiana, forty-five hundred students and fans flooded the old field house as the marching band played the school’s fight song. With chants of “cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame” ringing from the rafters, the overwhelmingly white male crowd hanged Bubba Smith in effigy next to a sign that read “LYNCH ‘EM.” (3)
Coaches and athletes were often hanged in effigy by the fans and students of opposing schools, but “hanging” Smith next to a sign that said lynch ’em suggested some mixture of insensitivity and outfight racial bias at Notre Dame. Two years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and nearly twenty years after Jackie Robinson broke major-league baseball’s color barrier, the “dummy in the green uniform with a number 95” represented not only Bubba Smith but a rejection of racial equality/Well into the twentieth century lynching had expressed and enforced white supremacy in the South, and the powerful memory of mob rule was reinforced for African Americans in the 1960s when their churches were bombed, or they were clubbed and hosed by police or stoned by white crowds. Notre Dame’s rally was emblematic of a dominant white sports culture that resisted integration.
The racial makeup of each school’s football team illustrates the uneven progress of the civil fights movement. On one end of the spectrum, Notre Dame represented how hard blacks had to struggle to move beyond token athletic integration at predominantly white institutions. At the other end, Michigan State’s squad was an example of what a fully integrated team might look like. While many northern football programs firmly believed that it would be dangerous to play more blacks than whites, in 1966 Michigan State’s defense started eight black players and three whites. The offensive backfield started two black running backs and a black quarterback, and the team’s two captains were black. In an era that accepted without question the myths that teams could not win by playing more blacks than whites and that black players did not have the intelligence to handle leadership positions, Michigan State’s 1965 and 1966 football teams were unlike any others in the prior history of integrated college football.
Why more schools from around the country don’t recruit the talented white players from the suburbs of Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Washington D.C., Nashville, Orlando, Tampa, etc., is beyond me, but Tom Lemming did allude to the reasons above when he talked about white defensive backs, tail backs and receivers in high school. The SEC only wants white kids to enroll as students; leave the football to the Black kids.
And to think, we were once a country that produced heroes like Freddie Steinmark.
It’s time for major colleges to start recruiting players like him again. That is how you save college football.