The Tide, the U and serendipity

Mecca Atlanta Harlem Miami and Beyond

A bit of serendipity this week. The University of Alabama’s head footbal coach Nick Saban is said to be bringing on the University of Miami’s defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski. This week, my “Gender, Race and Urban Space” graduate class will be exploring urban spatial and racial dynamics by making ties between UM’s football program circa 1980s and the black male body with Howard Schnellenberger, a former UM coach and protege of UA’s Paul “Bear” Bryant in view. The students just received the following prompt, in fact:

“The University of Miami’s football team since its initial rise as a powerhouse program in the 1980s has been associated with “swagger,” or attitude. You will learn more about this while watching the 30 for 30 ESPN documentary “The U”.

In the meantime, with Miami hip hop mogul Luther Campbell’s memoir as well as UM Coach Howard Schnellenberger’s experiences as revealed in his own memoir in mind and Randy Roberts and Ed Krzemienski’s Rising Tide: Bear Bryant, Joe Namath and Dixie’s Last Quarter‘s account of Schnellenberger’s time at the University of Alabama under Paul “Bear” Bryant in mind, describe how college football and black male student-athletes encounter each other in a changing world.

What’s required of those athletes to succeed?

What’s required of white coaches to succeed?

Does region matter?

Does the city matter?

How does Luther Campbell’s life expand the discussion?”

It is certain to be an interesting discussion. We will watch the first ESPN 30 for 30 doc on “The U” while finding answers to those questions and others.

My mom and I near Lake Osceola on UM’s campus.

As an alum of the U (I arrived in 1985 and graduated in 1989 and was a tutor in the Athletic Department back then) and an Alabama professor, I am so looking forward to this conversation.

Latest swag gear to sport with my UA houndstooth gear. Mom putting up with me as I balance it all.

Roll Tide and it’s all about the U all at once.

Miami’s Wynwood gentrifying community.

Meanwhile, next Friday at 5:30pm, the students’ curated exhibit “Mecca: Atlanta, Harlem, Miami and Beyond” opens at UA College of Arts and Sciences’ Paul R. Jones Museum in downtown Tuscaloosa.

Royal Castle in Miami’s Liberty City. I loved their chicken souse back in the day.

Looking forward to seeing how the students continue to find meaning in certain cities being a place of refuge for certain bodies, among them, ones of African descent.


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