Details from an ESPN press release this morning…
On Sylvester Croom’s 58th birthday, Tuesday, Sept. 25, ESPNU will debut Croom at 7 p.m. ET. The latest installment in the SEC “Storied” documentary series, the film chronicles Croom’s rise to become head football coach at Mississippi State University and, more importantly, the first African American head coach in the Southeastern Conference.
As the first African American center at the University of Alabama, and one of the school’s first black players, Croom earned All-American honors, won three SEC championships and displayed the “can-do” attitude first instilled by his father, Rev. Sylvester Croom Sr. After playing for legendary coach Paul “Bear“ Bryant and then coaching under him for a decade, Croom moved on to the NFL as an assistant coach for 17 years before emerging as a leading candidate for what he considered to be the ultimate position – head coach at Alabama.
Though it appeared in the spring of 2003 that Croom was on the verge of being named Alabama’s next head coach, it was Mike Shula who ended up getting the job. But the following year, Croom was named head coach at another SEC school, Mississippi State University, making him the first African American head football coach in the history of the conference as well as leaving him with the formidable task of rebuilding a football program facing NCAA sanctions.
Although his head coaching career began with three consecutive three-win seasons, Croom earned a breakthrough win in 2006, beating Shula and his alma mater in Tuscaloosa. The following year, his Mississippi State team beat Alabama for a second straight season and went on to complete an 8-5 campaign that included a victory in the Liberty Bowl and multiple Coach of the Year honors for Croom. But after the following season took a turn for the worse, Croom was asked to resign. He soon returned to the NFL as an assistant coach and is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
ESPN Films’ Croom will tell the story of a coach who has been tested by some of the most difficult circumstances society has to offer but, through his conviction and character, has impacted countless lives.
Directed by Sports Emmy winner Johnson McKelvy and narrated by actor Terrence Howard, Croom features interviews from family and colleagues, including: SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, former Alabama teammate and now Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore, former MSU Athletic Directors Larry Templeton and Greg Byrne, Author and Radio Host Paul Finebaum, former MSU player Brett Morgan, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, and former NFL head coach Tony Dungy.