This is a subject that college football coaches don't talk about in public. And the media doesn't editorialize about it on radio, television or in print. It is too delicate. It has the trappings of racism. It's a "no win" issue, a controversy that people talk about when they don't think anyone else is listening.
It's all about white players who aren't recruited to play wide receiver, running back or cornerback in college. No matter how good they are in high school, no matter how productive, no matter how fast or how big they are, they are rarely if ever recruited by big-time college programs.
"College recruiters talk off the record to me," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. "They talk off the record that if an athlete is white, no matter how great his production, they won't recruit him."
Why? According to Lemming, college recruiters don't think whites have enough burst, a quick-twitch burst that black athletes have at those skill positions, particularly at running back and cornerback.
"When I started to evaluate players in the late 1970s, there were whispers that blacks couldn't play quarterback. No one talked about it publicly at the time, of course. It was an example of reverse prejudice. But now college coaches and pro scouts have changed their minds about that issue," Lemming said.
"But now white kids want to play other positions where they will be recruited because they know then won't get a fair shot at cornerback or running back."
On his annual coast-to-coast trips to evaluate the top 1,500 prospects in the country, Lemming sees hundreds of white tailbacks who are very productive but few get a chance in college. For example, there isn't a white tailback in the Big 10 this season.
Think about it. How many white players can you think of who played wide receiver, tailback or cornerback in college or even the NFL? No one was more successful than Kaneland's Don Beebe, whose 4.29 speed earned him a nine-year career in the NFL and six trips to the Super Bowl.
Others who come to mind are wide receiver Jeff Samardzija of Notre Dame, who chose a career in professional baseball; Buffalo Grove's Tom Zbikowski, who was switched from cornerback to free safety by then Notre Dame coach Ty Willingham; and retired cornerback Jason Seahorn of the New York Giants.
"You rarely see a white tailback in college, not at the big schools," Lemming said. "I can't remember the last time I saw a white tailback at a big-time school with the possible exception of Sam McGuffie, who played at Michigan, then transferred to Rice."