Black offensive coordinators are still rare, why?

Oklahoma State University’s Casey Dunn has been in the coaching game for three decades. He has coached at nine schools, including two NFL teams. Despite being hired in four positions, it has taken him nearly 25 years to become an offensive coordinator.

His journey highlights an extensive and ever-growing problem in the NFL when discussing the diversity disparity. Dunn is one of seven Black offensive coordinators out of 69 Power Five conference schools, which only represents 10%, whereas approximately half the players are Black. This poses a significant problem.

“I don’t really notice it from the standpoint that, like, I’m carrying a torch or something,” Dunn told the Associated Press. “But I do have the respect that if I don’t succeed, that’s going to hurt, I think, a little bit the next guy, you know?”

We’ve talked extensively about the lack of Black coaches leading Division I programs. There’s just 14 out of 133. What hasn’t been addressed as much is the lack of offensive coordinators, which usually parlays into a head coaching job.

Its methodically planned out. The head coaching pipeline has been restricted for those with darker skin.

According to data from the NCAA, over the last decade, the number of white players in Power Five conferences have declined, while the number of minorities continues to rise. To be exact: 46% of players in those conferences are Black and 52% in Group of Five conferences.

There is some good in all of this. At least coaching staffs as a whole are staring to turn more Black. The number of Black and minority coaches, not including coordinators are on the rise since 2012.

In the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC conferences, the majority of assistant coaches are minorities. In 2012, assistants were 34% Black and 5% other minority groups. In 2022, those numbers grew to 44% and 9%.

The trend has come to a screeching halt at the offensive coordinator position. In 2012, 9% of coordinators were Black. In 2022, the number was slightly under 10%. There’s been no growth.

This falls in line with the belief that Blacks are hired, but often placed in positions that don’t foster as much growth as their white counterparts. There’s often not a clear path for promotion like there is with their white counterparts. This is a problem that stretches beyond sports.

“I want to make it clear: We don’t need to build a pipeline. There is already a pipeline of minority coaches on the offensive side of the ball,” Raj Kudchadkar said. “Where we’re hitting that blockade is when we get to offensive coordinators.”

In terms of defensive coordinators, Blacks comprised of more than 20% in major college football from 2018-22.

The kicker? The NCAA considers any coach with “coordinator” in his title as a coordinator, thus inflating the total number of coordinators, which makes the percentage look more impressive. That means run-game and pass-game coordinators are included in the calculation.

Eliminating those variables, 132 coaches are actual offensive coordinators or co-coordinators in FBS. Nine are black, which accounts for 7%, according to the AP’s research. The Big 12 has the most Black offensive coordinators with three, including Dunn.

How to switch this trend around? It may be on the horizon. With the offensive coordinator position being tied to the quarterback position and there being more Black quarterbacks now than ever (11 of 32 starting QBs are Black in 2023), things are trending in the right direction for the near-ish future, but right now, things are far too lopsided.

About Author

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.

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