Williams seemingly riding to Grambling's rescue
By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
On the day in which it was leaked Doug Williams is returning to Grambling State to become head coach of the Tigers' storied football program, the university's athletics website, gsutigers.com, was down.
No, it wasn't because too much traffic had come to the site.
The domain name apparently expired on Sunday and was pending renewal or deletion.
And we thought GoDaddy.com only made people smile.
Well, at least in Grambling, La., and across the Southwestern Athletic Conference for that matter, many were grinning from ear to ear on Monday. In what has mainly been a troubled offseason, the news broke that Williams is coming back for his second stint as Grambling State's head coach.
There was a big lure during Grambling State's "recruitment" of Williams, who left his position as general manager of the Virginia Destoyers, a 2011 expansion team in the United Football League. His son D.J., a quarterback out of Tampa, Fla., is part of Grambling State's incoming class this fall, and Proud Papa apparently will be his head coach for the next four or five years.
"I was looking forward to working with the Destroyers, but this is a great opportunity for me and it is very rare that a father gets to coach his son at the college football level," Williams said in a release issued by the UFL. "I went to school there, I coached there, and now I have a great opportunity to coach there again."
Doug Williams' job now is to make Grambling State football dynamic again.
It's the news - make that jolt - needed in SWAC football circles.
If it wasn't bad enough that 2009 Eddie Robinson Award winner Henry Frazier Jr. left Prairie View A&M to become head coach at struggling North Carolina Central of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which is the rival of the SWAC among the conferences for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, but head coach Rod Broadway did the same at Grambling State, reversing course on his announcement that he would stay with the Tigers to take over at North Carolina A&T earlier this month.
Obviously, the Robinson award which goes to the national coach of the year in the Football Championship Subdivision is named after the legendary coach who guided Grambling State to the top rung of black college football over his 56 seasons, including nine black college national championships.
When Williams replaced Coach Rob after his retirement in 1997, he faced an impossible task, yet did a solid job in compiling a 52-18 record and leading the Tigers to three SWAC championships in six seasons from 1998-2003.
But Grambling State slumped to a 20-14 record under Melvin Spears from 2004-06 and hasn't been the same since then. Not even a 35-12 mark with a SWAC title in 2008 under Broadway, who coached from 2007-10, kept the buzz strong enough for the Tigers.
Williams' job now is to make Grambling State football dynamic again.
Many factors point to this possibility.
Foremost is his link to the Tigers' past, starting with his connection to Robinson, still the winningest coach in Division I history. He's synonymous with Grambling State's success, which matters so much with a program built on long-standing tradition. Interest in the program and all-so-important alumni donations are sure to rise with Williams on the sideline.
His vibrant, outspoken personality - loved by many, though not all - is what many players still look for in a coach. Broadway's style wasn't, well, Broadway material - he's deep-voiced, yes, but reserved like an elder statesman. Williams, on the other hand, has the flash which will attract quality high school players, motivate his team and make people gravitate to him. Quarterblack - yes, the name of his autobiography - got people's attention back in 1990. He's still turning heads today.
Williams also has the NFL experience and understanding of what it takes to win at football's highest level. In many ways, what Williams did as the first black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl eclipses his success at Grambling State. He will bring a pro style to his game planning and in the running of the program.
Big crowds are sure to pour into Grambling State games, especially at the neutral-site "classic" games against SWAC opponents. It could help the Tigers if Southern University can get back on track as a program and make the Bayou Classic relevant again.
With the SWAC not part of the FCS playoffs, Williams will revel in the opportunity to win a meeting of top black college programs on the Bayou's national stage in New Orleans.
But, first things first, starting with Wednesday's upcoming press conference on campus to "re-introduce" Williams as head coach.
He said this winter that he believes his son picked Grambling State because he has the black and gold in him.
Williams already knows that feeling well. That's why fans of Grambling State football are hoping he can take the program back to the future.
It will be great to read about all the excitement on the Tigers' athletic website. When the bill is paid, of course.