LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Joker Phillips thought his longtime friend Charlie Strong would get the opportunity to be a head coach years ago.
It didn't happen.
Each offseason would follow a similar pattern: Jobs would come open, the former Florida defensive coordinator's name would emerge as one of the top minority candidates and each time the offer would be made to someone else. Someone white.
"I thought he would be the guy," Phillips said of Strong.
The tide, however, appears to be slowly turning.
Phillips and Strong are among a dozen black head coaches at Division I schools, triple the number of black head coaches two years ago. It's the most there have ever been, 10 percent of the 120 coaches.
"It's coming," said Tony Dungy, the former Bucs and Colts coach who is a leading advocate of diversity. "Now is it fast enough? Is it everything we'd like to see? No. But these new guys will come in and do a great job, and they'll pave the way for others."
Of the 12 black head coaches in Division I, only five coach at Bowl Championship Series schools: Strong, Phillips, Randy Shannon in Miami, Turner Gill in Kansas and Mike London at Virginia.
There are 17 minority offensive or defensive coordinators among the six major conferences.
Is it racism? Phillips says it is simply about finding the right opportunity. Strong won't even broach the subject.
notre dame: Tight end Mike Ragone was released from a hospital after spending the night to recover from heat illness suffered at practice. Ragone was treated by a team doctor and trainer who lowered his body temperature at the team's facility Wednesday. He was hospitalized for observation.
penn state: Anticipating inquiries about his health at media day, coach Joe Paterno, 83, said to reporters before one question was asked: "I have one request. Please, don't ask if I'm going to die. Believe me, I got a few more days left."
tennessee: Prosecutors dropped a charge of assaulting a police officer against Darren Myles Jr. after the former Vols defensive back reached a plea agreement that will have him on diversion until April 2012. Myles pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and public intoxication stemming from an April 18 arrest at a Knoxville restaurant and nightclub. He also pleaded guilty to evading arrest and resisting arrest after fleeing the scene of a July 9 bar brawl that involved many of his former teammates. He was kicked off the team.
usc: Coach Lane Kiffin addressed players regarding the suspension of freshman running back Dillon Baxter, and felt good about their response to the code of conduct to which he expects them to adhere. "The strong message sent to our team was very powerful in our team meeting," he said. "I think they got the point of how serious we are of doing things right." Baxter continues to practice, but will miss the Sept. 2 season opener for violating team rules. "This isn't the end of the world for his career," Kiffin said. "He's still got 12 games to look forward to."