We wonder how we should contemplate it? Or, whether we should at all?
It is an unprecedented situation that, in a more perfect world, we would like not to reflect upon at all. But we must.
The University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville both have new football coaches. Charlie Strong and Joker Philiips, by all accounts, are men of character, leaders. More salient for this contemplation, they are men of color.
(So, too, Willie Taggart, the new mentor at Western Kentucky, the state’s only other upper echelon football program.)
It has come to pass by coincidence not design that the commonwealth’s major football programs have new coaches in the same year. They are all African Americans. Such a circumstance hasn’t occurred before. Not anywhere in the land. Certainly not anywhere in Dixie.
It should be allowed to evolve without comment. But we aren’t there yet.
So, we struggle with how to react.
At the Governor’s Cup luncheon, former Gov. Martha Layne Collins euphemised “how proud we are to have these fine young coaches representing our state.”
Phillips discussed it a bit during his time on the podium yesterday, talking of conversations the two had about their futures during their time toiling as assistants.
Strong became sort of a joke in recent years, the go-to guy when an interview with a Negro was necessary before a school hired the fellow they really wanted. To his credit he remained focused and resolute. Any resentments he may have harbored at being used like that, he sublimated into ambition.
Phillips was mentored by his predecessor at his alma mater. He was patient and stalwart.
Now, in an ironic twist of fate, these friends are foes. Rivals of the highest order.
Their teams, the most bitter of rivals, will compete against each other in their very first game.
One can only hope this September’s battle is but the first of many.
Charlie Strong. Joker Phillips. Long may you run.
– Seedy K