Sunday, April 08, 2007

Grambling State University

Eddie Robinson (1919 to 2007), the football coach at Grambling State University for 55 seasons died last week. Coach Robinson is ranked #2 on the list of winningest NCAA football coaches with a 408-165-15 overall record which is a .707 winning percentage. The only football coach -- still active after 58 seasons with a .781 winning percentage - to surpass Coach Robinson is Coach John Gagliardi of St. John's University in my adopted State of Minnesota.

Amazing, to football coach for 55 and 58 years respectively -- I hope to live that long let alone have the same profession for that amount of time!! It is an amazing feat by both coaches to have lasted this long especially given the huge amount of change the college game has experienced since 1949.

Due to Coach Robinson Grambling State University is a football icon today especially among our country's historically black colleges. Given my love of football and academics I think it is important to highlight a small segment of Grambling's history to remind readers of the USA's racist history to show how far we have come today when we have an African-American coach like Tony Dungy winning the Super Bowl in 2007 as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts:

Grambling State University ( emerged from the desire of African-American farmers in rural north Louisiana who wanted to educate other African Americans in the northern and western parts of the state. In 1896, the North Louisiana Colored Agriculture Relief Association was formed to organize and operate a school. After opening a small school west of what is now the town of Grambling, the Association requested assistance from Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Charles P. Adams, sent to aid the group in organizing an industrial school, became its founder and first president.
Under Adams’ leadership, the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School opened on November 1, 1901. Four years later, the school moved to its present location and was renamed the North Louisiana Agricultural and Industrial School. By 1928, the school was able to offer two-year professional certificates and diplomas after becoming a state junior college. The institution’s name was changed to Grambling College in 1946.

Over the years I have seen Grambling play football on TV several times so when I saw the news that Coach Robinson had died last week I was struck with the thought -- "why didn't Coach Robinson take his team to play around the country more?" A great example of such a playing opportunity is my alma mater - Iowa State University ( "ISU". The opening game of the 2007 season is ISU vs. Kent State University. As I have posted earlier on this blog - WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY???

I know, I know playing teams like Kent State helps ISU get enough wins to qualify for a post-season bowl game but why not replace teams like Kent State with teams that have rich football heritages like Grambling State or perhaps with one of these teams where their iconic coaches have been working for 41 years each?:
  • Bobby Bowden at Florida State University
  • Joe Paterno at Penn State University

Even if ISU lost such games it would be a better show than an ISU-Kent State match up.

Rest in peace Coach Robinson,


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