When Mississippi State hired Sylvester Croom in December of 2003, making him the first black head football coach in Southeastern Conference history, the news story reverberated nationwide.
It earned ink in Sports Illustrated and The New York Times, among other publications. ESPN devoted air time, too.
Fast forward to January, when Kentucky called a news conference to say that its offensive coordinator, Joker Phillips, who is black, would succeed Rich Brooks as head coach when he retires.
Very little was made of the fact that another SEC school is poised to have a black head football coach – and that’s just the way Phillips would have it.
“I think we’ve made some improvements in that,” said Phillips, 45. “I think the biggest reason it wasn’t an issue here is me being around here and all the Kentuckians knowing who I am and being around me.”