Photo courtesy of Utah athletics
Last week, the University of Utah announced it was bringing back defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley from suspension.
Scalley was accused of using a racial slur directed at a recruit in 2013. The story surfaced on June 5.
Athletic Director Mark Harlan and head coach Kyle Whittingham announced that Scalley’s salary would be cut in half from $1.1 million a year to about $525,000 a year. Scalley also had his title of “head coach in waiting” stripped from his contract.
But did Utah make the right decision bringing Scalley back? From a personal stand point, yes. It is showing that “cancel culture” will not prevail at the university for an action that happened more than seven years ago.
The recruit who received the text with the racial slur has since forgiven Scalley. That same recruit later committed to the program. Bridges have been mended, so why not move on?
We will take a look at both the positives and negatives for bringing Scalley back to the Utah football program:
It doesn't erase bad behavior, but Scalley is one heck of a football coach. There is a reason that the Utes were willing to place the "head coach in waiting" tag on him. That's because he is one of the more talented young coaches in the FBS ranks.
He is a great recruiter who has built bridges between Utah and the state of Texas. That has led to several highly-rated recruits committing to the Utes. He has also shown the ability to develop those recruits into NFL-caliber players. Several of his safeties, such as Julian Blackmon, Terrell Burgess, and Marquise Blair, have found a home in the NFL.
Scalley also knows the in's and out's of the Utah program — another reason why he was tabbed for the job once Whittingham retired. He could seamlessly transition the program from the leadership of Whittingham to his new regime and keep the Utes football program on their upward trajectory.
With the recent uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement, any and all racism is being weeded out of every sports team and program.
Iowa fired its strength and conditioning coach after a history of racist remarks and behavior toward players and coaches. Utah State is investigating a player for racist comments. Oklahoma State and head coach Mike Gundy faced backlash after Gundy wore a t-shirt donning the logo of a conservative news network that opposed the BLM movement. The list goes on.
Since Scalley was welcomed back to the program, to many that shows that Utah is willing to look the other way when it comes to racism. That perception could have disastrous effects to both the university and football program.
Both the university and the athletics program have been in hot water because of other incidents. That includes abuse in the swimming program and the horrific situation regarding track athlete Lauren McCluskey. The university and athletic department could have used a public relations boost that would have come from taking a hard stance on this issue.
Recruiting could take a hit as well. Players, many of whom are black, may not want to be associated with a coach who has a history of using racial slurs or taunting minority players.
Only time will tell the true ramifications of keeping Scalley on staff at Utah. Personally, I didn’t think that Scalley deserved to lose his job. However, I thought the punishments that were handed down would be much more severe to make sure that this behavior would not be tolerated.
Instead, the punishments are viewed as a mere slap on the wrist. Scalley will likely get his raise back at the end of the 2020 season. Scalley seemed very sorrowful and contrite over his actions in his press conference. He will likely change and become better from this situation; that is what we as college football fans should hope for.
But the fact of the matter is that if change is to take place, coaches like Scalley need to be held more accountable. It’s the only way to keep these actions from being repeated. Utah football has yet to see the consequences for these actions. The nation will be watching as the Utes face them.