One day after Texas Southern University was hammered by the NCAA for repeated and blatant violations of academic, recruiting and scholarship allotment policies, former players and coaches are reflecting on wins and championships that are now stricken from the record books.
Among them, former head football coach Johnnie Cole. Now an offensive coordinator at a community college in Kansas, Cole was a central figure in the violations that have led to all wins by the Tigers between 2006 and 2010 being vacated, including the school’s first SWAC football title.
“I feel badly for the student-athletes because they got caught in the middle of adult business,” said Cole, an alumnus who coached the Tigers from December 2007 until his termination in April 2011.
Cole said he “still loves TSU” and that the records’ being wiped away doesn’t change the dominance the Tigers displayed in 2010, when they finished the season with eight consecutive victories, including an 11-6 win over Alabama State in the SWAC title game.
Actually, that’s exactly what the sanctions will do. In 50 years, black college enthusiasts may research to find a lineage of champions in a sports culture that may, at that point, look vastly different. And Texas Southern, because of Cole’s disregard for the rules, won’t be there. Sure, students and young alums may grow into the alumni old heads who may talk about the 2010 title, or they may not.
Because its embarrassing to know that rule bending and lying led to a title that lived in hearts and trophy cases for a little less than three years. And thanks to these sanctions, it may near a decade before TSU even gets close enough to compete for what will, once again, be its first SWAC football championship.