Morehouse football desperately needs a shot in the arm. Hue Jackson is a dose of bad medicine.
According to reports, Morehouse College — the all-male HBCU in Atlanta — is in negotiations with Jackson to be their next head football coach. At this point, it feels like it’s inevitable. In full transparency, I am a Morehouse (Man) alum and love my school. But let’s be clear. This column isn’t being written by emotion. It’s a breakdown of how and why Jackson is unfit for this position in every sense of the word, based on fact and logic.
Let’s start with the man.
The idea that a program like Morehouse, one that’s coming off back-to-back 1-9 seasons and will be on its third head coach in three years when the season starts, has an opportunity to be led by a former NFL head coach seems great on paper. But, that’s why looks can be deceiving.
During his time in the NFL, Jackson was 11-44 as a head coach between stops with the Raiders and Browns. In his lone season in Oakland, he was 8-8 before he was fired. At the time, it felt unjust. But, when Jackson got to coach his own team again in Cleveland he got exposed. He was 1-15 in his first season and followed that up by going winless in 2017 (0-16). He was fired during his third season after posting a 2-5-1 record in his last year as an NFL head coach.
The next time we saw Jackson leading a team was when he took over at Grambling in 2022. In his two seasons, he was 8-14, putting his combined career winning percentage as a head coach at 24.6 percent (19-58). But as bad as his record is, who Jackson showed himself to be at Grambling was even worse.
“I’m not a fan at all. I’m very, very disappointed in Grambling, I really am,” NFL legend and Grambling alum Doug Williams told The Washington Post when Jackson hired Art Briles to his staff. “I talked to the AD a couple times. They knew where I stood, but they did it and if that’s what they want to do, that’s fine. I’m out.”
“Oh, no. I can’t do that. No, no, no. If I support them, I condone it,” Williams added, according to the report.
Briles has been all but banished from coaching in college and the NFL due to him being an “alleged” serial rape enabler. Briles was fired as the head coach at Baylor after a sex scandal discovered that the school’s former president and leaders, all the way down to Briles, were looking the other way and ignoring rape allegations. It has been claimed that over 50 women had been sexually assaulted and raped by more than 30 players during a four-year span. The hiring of Briles set off an uproar, but instead of fixing the issue, Jackson doubled down.
“This recent hire of Coach Briles is a testament to the importance of these key factors: Forgiveness: We believe that all are deserving of forgiveness and without it, healing can’t begin,” read the words written on the website for Jackson’s Foundation. “Redemption: Redemption follows forgiveness. Going from surviving an experience into thriving through new experiences require a restoration of faith and an opportunity for improvement. Enlightenment: It is our own experiences that give us the wisdom to teach others how to live in a world of respect and honor.”
The drama came to an end when Briles decided to step away from Grambling, as Jackson didn’t have a problem with bringing him to an HBCU campus. It was proof that Jackson didn’t care about HBCU culture or the students and alumni of these institutions. He only cared about winning football games.
Now, let’s look at why Morehouse isn’t the place for Jackson.
Last season, Morehouse only had two home games — which is insane. A look at the record books will show that going 7-3 in 2018 was the most successful season in recent years, as the Maroon Tigers went 4-6 in 2019 and 2020 — the school shut down the athletic department in 2020 due to the pandemic. The program hasn’t won the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) since 1991. Jackson was a running backs coach in NFL Europe that year. I was seven.
To say Morehouse is a different place is an understatement, as it’s the only institution of higher learning of its kind on the planet. It’s a Black college for Black men. But on top of all the impressive alumni that the college has produced since 1867, what many don’t know is that athletics are taken even less seriously there than at other HBCUs. Athletics have never and will never be the priority at HBCUs, as sports, and particularly football, aren’t why students go there. The star quarterback is never going to be the big man on campus, despite what NFL aspirations they may have. And if athletics aren’t the focus at other HBCUs, then they’re an afterthought at Morehouse.
That’s not a dig at my alma mater or any of the great athletes the school has produced. But you go to Morehouse to play school, not sports. For instance, at our last homecoming, more than 35,000 people were in attendance for the tailgate alone, while there weren’t 3,000 people in the stands for the game. If you want to go to “the league” in life, come to Morehouse — if you can get in. If your sole purpose is getting to “the league” in athletics, I’d advise enrolling somewhere else. As the alumni website reads: “The mission of Morehouse College is to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service. A private historically Black liberal arts college for men, Morehouse realizes this mission by emphasizing the intellectual and character development of its students. In addition, the College assumes special responsibility for teaching the history and culture of Black people.”
But even for the students who have become, or the ones who desire, to work in athletics/be a professional athlete, Morehouse and HBCUs should never be seen as a last option, as that’s the way Jackson views us. Don’t come running to us when we were never your priority. This isn’t “Last Chance U.”
“Despite their talent and expertise – minority coaches continue to be overlooked and under-represented in the NFL and Power 5 schools,” Jackson once posted on social media. “I am calling on coaches to pivot and consider coaching at HBCUs. Not only will this give them an opportunity to hone their craft, but it can help bring more attention and resources back to these great institutions.”
If Jackson were in negotiations with some predominately white institution (PWI), I would find it comical because it would mean that some misguided athletic director with a bad football team was trying to hire a name who would garner attention, not increase wins. But Morehouse, and HBCUs, are a different world. The betterment of the entire student body is the focus, not just the students who choose to play sports.
It has been rumored that Morehouse will be joining the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) soon, lending itself to why someone like Jackson is in play, as the conference is a step up, especially in football. But in a few weeks, Morehouse College will be 157 years old. And in that time it has built its legacy on producing Black men who have changed America and the world, repeatedly. The man who is more than likely going to become the new head football coach doesn’t fit that bill. From his performance on the field to the horrible choices he’s made as a leader, Hue Jackson isn’t just unworthy of Morehouse — Morehouse would cheapen itself by hiring him.