In the FCS Huddle: Grambling's refusal to play was out of bounds
By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director/Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The head coach whom Grambling State's football players would prefer to be following today is one who has embraced what he learned under the mentor of black college football's most storied program.
"They don't have to embrace me," the now-fired Doug Williams told The Sports Network shortly after returning to his alma mater in 2011 for a second stint as the Tigers' head coach. "I think it's important they embrace Grambling - the legacy and the history of Grambling."
The history and legacy of Grambling State football, of course, centers around the legendary Eddie Robinson, who spent 57 years leading the program and devoting his life to the young people in it. He taught countless players, including Williams, how to make the correct decisions.
At Grambling State, the wrong decision was made on Friday.
Coach Rob would have boarded one of the team busses that didn't leave the tiny Louisiana campus for a scheduled Southwestern Athletic Conference game at Jackson State Saturday night, which ended in a regrettable forfeit to cap the most embarrassing week in school history. He would have realized that standing up to the Grambling administration had its boundaries, and the majority of Tigers players who decided they wouldn't travel to the game failed to realize this wasn't just about them.
Coach Rob would have shown them another way.
Refusing to step onto the field Saturday night - albeit in a game on the road and not at the beloved, though aging Robinson Stadium - was in essence a step too far over the line by the Grambling players.
The players who refused to play - about three-quarters of the team - were not honoring the responsibility given to them in the form of their scholarships. They had a responsibility to their fellow student body, their opponent and those who were set to attend the game (both Grambling and Jackson State fans) in addition to themselves. They should have represented the school on the field and continued to use dialogue off it to work toward a solution.
Some will say the Grambling program hasn't been the same this season since the beloved, outspoken Williams, who has been the face of the Tigers since he first succeeded Robinson in 1998 and later returned to what he considered to be "home," was fired after two losses to open this season, but the Tigers haven't been the same for a long time.
Clearly, funding has dried up for Louisiana state schools and Grambling's entire athletic program has fallen to unsightly depths. It seems honorable that the football team rose up to the school's struggling administration, voicing concern over the firing of Williams but more from what they say are subpar and unhealthy training facilities and untenable road trips by bus.
But there are consequences to actions, and some members of this group of players may not be part of the future as university officials work toward a resolution. And, make no mistake, with a national TV date ahead next month via the Bayou Classic, the school will find a solution and not cancel the remaining four games (whether NBC will want to keep televising Grambling in future years is another story).
Winless Grambling has been through the popular Williams and the unpopular George Ragsdale as head coaches this season, and now will be under the lead of Dennis "Dirt" Winston. If and when the school goes out to find a new leader for its football program - maybe he's already here with Winston - it figures to be hard-pressed to keep some of these players on scholarship, which, as we sadly know, are renewed on an annual basis and not guaranteed for four or five years.
As Grambling regroups and tries to emerge from this dark period, the university needs great change, from administration to coaches to, sadly, players who feel they are bigger than the game.
Somewhere along the line they ignored some of Robinson's ideals. Grambling football will never be the same.
ANOTHER DISASTROUS SITUATION
Speaking of programs needing change, it seems time for Appalachian State to work out a mutual parting with first-year head coach Scott Satterfield.
After Saturday's 27-10 loss at Furman, the Mountaineers have an unfathomable 1-6 record. They are in the midst of their first four-game losing streak since 1993, which was when they last had a losing season (4-7). To avoid another one, they have to sweep their final five games.
Satterfield, spooked by the pressure surrounding this lost season, doesn't seem to be the coach who should be leading the program to the FBS level next year.
TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
The Coastal Carolina-Liberty and Sam Houston State-McNeese State showdowns lived up to their billings. A roundup of games in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 can be found at http://tinyurl.com/l383s4y.
STOCK RISING, STOCK FALLING
Rising: Maine (6-1, 3-0) is the last unbeaten team in CAA Football games after the Black Bears dispatched William & Mary, 34-20, on Saturday. A win by coach Jack Cosgrove's surprising squad at Villanova next weekend would go a long way toward a conference championship because the remaining schedule seemingly lightens in November. The Black Bears have lost only to Northwestern.
Falling: The soft section of the preseason rankings was No. 15-18 because Illinois State (3-4), Cal Poly (3-4), Richmond (2-5) and Stony Brook (3-3) are either out of the FCS playoff picture or teetering on it. But a fourth loss in five games also has left preseason No. 6 South Dakota State (4-4) in a particularly unexpected position.
AROUND THE NATION
Charleston Southern's expected loss at Colorado dropped the number of unbeaten FCS teams to four: Fordham (8-0), Coastal Carolina (7-0), two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State (7-0) and Harvard (5-0). ... With four more touchdowns, Coastal Carolina's Lorenzo Taliaferro has become the FCS leader in scoring with 15.4 points per game - 18 TDs in seven games. ... In a 55-33 win over Southeast Missouri State, Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo broke Sean Payton's school record for passing yards - he now has 10,841 yards - and Casey Brockman's Ohio Valley Conference career record for total offense at Murray State - he now has 10,741 career yards. ... Tennessee at Chattanooga junior defensive end Davis Tull set a new school sack record with the 24th of his two-plus year career in a 20-9 win over Elon. ... One year after going winless, Rhode Island improved to 3-5 with its second CAA win, beating Richmond, 12-10. It was the second game this season the disappointing Spiders fell 12-10 on four field goals, this time by Dylan Smith. ... Over the last two games, Villanova quarterback John Robertson has completed 32-of-35 pass attempts. ... After South Dakota rallied to beat Northern Iowa, 38-31, in double overtime to end an 18-game road losing streak, Coyotes coach Joe Glenn said, "This is another bucket list for us." ... Hampton beat Norfolk State, 27-17, in the annual Battle of the Bay. Carvin Johnson, Denzel Heath and Khambrel McGee all recorded interceptions in the Pirates' second straight win. ... Despite missing leading tackler Davon Moore because of a knee injury, Delaware State held North Carolina A&T to 102 total yards (35 rushing, 67 passing) in a 12-7 road victory. ... Gavin McCarney fired a 31-yard touchdown pass to Brian Lalli with 59 seconds remaining to give Colgate a 28-24 victory over Holy Cross. In returning from injury, McCarney had 312 yards of total offense and three total touchdowns. ... Without standout quarterback Matt Lancaster, Butler still managed an important win over fellow defending Pioneer Football League champion Drake, 24-14. Wade Markley stepped in to complete 27- of-44 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown. Butler (6-2, 4-0) leads the PFL after San Diego fell to Dayton, 45-38, in double overtime despite quarterback Mason Mills becoming the Toreros' all-time passing yardage leader (9,977). ... True freshman Austin Gahafer was 41-of-52 for 458 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions in Morehead State's 42-28 win at Valparaiso. ... Quarterback Brad Attaway's six touchdown passes fueled Stephen F. Austin past Nicholls, 55-41. Aaron Thomas, Mike Brooks and D.J. Ward caught two touchdowns each. ... Here's what having 13 teams will do for a league. Seven teams are within one game of first place in the Big Sky, led by Eastern Washington and Montana State at 3-0 each. ... Northern Arizona senior Zach Bauman's 266 rushing yards in a 39-30 victory over Idaho State marked a career high and gave him 884 yards on his way to a fourth season of at least 1,000 yards. Idaho State has lost an incredible 42 straight road games dating to 2006. ... Abilene Christian won the first game of a home-and-home set with fellow FCS independent Incarnate Word, 40-6. John David Baker threw for three touchdowns. The return game at Incarnate Word will be played Nov. 9. ... Southeastern Louisiana's Xavier Roberson had four kick returns for 146 yards against Northwestern State, including a 92-yard TD, and actually had his season average go down. He has a 37.8-yard average after 14 returns. ... Duquesne held on in the Steel City Showdown, edging rival Robert Morris, 21-20, to grab sole possession of first place in the Northeast Conference. Incredibly, the Dukes (4-2, 2-0) scored twice on safeties, once on a field goal and two more times on Dillon Buechel touchdown passes within a 9-minute, 23-second span of the third quarter. ... Sacred Heart's Troy Moore had six tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble in a 56-28 double-up of Bryant. Even better, Fordham linebacker Stephen Hodge had a career-high 14 tackles for a second straight week, this time with 13 solos, five tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in a 52-31 win at Yale, which made the Rams 8-0 for the first time in program history. ... Winless Austin Peay has scored only two touchdowns and 26 points in seven games. In fact, the Ohio Valley Conference squad has not had a lead all season. ... The NCAA Division I FCS Weekly Roundup reports that nearly 150 former players from schools currently in the FCS are on NFL rosters this season.
A LOOK AHEAD
Next Saturday should be one of the best nationally this season. Among the big FCS conference matchups are Eastern Washington-Montana in the Big Sky, Samford-Wofford in the Southern Conference, Eastern Illinois-Tennessee State in the Ohio Valley Conference, South Carolina State/Bethune-Cookman in the MEAC, Maine-Villanova in CAA Football, Princeton-Harvard in the Ivy League, Butler- San Diego in the Pioneer Football League.
All but the huge Eastern Washington-Montana matchup is a meeting of teams in at least first or second place in their league.
There's also: Big Sky, Northern Arizona-Cal Poly; Big South, Liberty/Gardner- Webb; CAA, Towson-Richmond and James Madison-William & Mary; Ivy, Yale-Penn; Missouri Valley, Northern Iowa-South Dakota State; Northeast, Sacred Heart- Saint Francis and Duquesne-Bryant; Southern, Georgia Southern-Appalachian State; and Southland, Stephen F. Austin-Central Arkansas, Lamar-Southeastern Louisiana and McNeese State-Nicholls.
In addition, there's SWAC, Alcorn State-Southern, Alabama A&M-Alabama State at Legion Field in Birmingham and Prairie View A&M-Jackson State at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La.; non-conference, Old Dominion-Norfolk State; and FCS-vs.-FBS, Furman-LSU.
10/20 10:51:18 ET