It had been 22 years since Grambling last defeated a Division I program. Sept. 28, 1985, in Shreveport, Grambling shocked the world when they upset Oregon State 23-6. Last weekend, the Tigers attempted to do the same against the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The game was more than just a normal out-of-conference game for the Tigers. The game for Grambling was a chance to re-establish its place as one of the elite football programs in the state in this era.
Saturday was Grambling’s opportunity to join a small fraternity of Division I-AA programs to defeat Division I-A schools this year. Only eight Division I-AA schools have upset higher division foes, the most notable was earlier in the year, when Appalachian State beat Michigan.
Above all, it was a game to show that HBCU football is to be taken seriously. A victory by Grambling would have had a serious impact on regional recruiting.
After last season’s 3-8 record, Grambling lost out on four recruits in the area who would have contributed immediately this season. Instead, they elected to go to ULM.
Currently Grambling has the most storied program in Black college football. However, it isn’t significantly rewarded financially from a local perspective.
If you travel down to Baton Rouge, and take a look around Mumford Stadium, which is on the campus of Southern University, multiple sponsorships appear around the stadium.
You take a look at Robinson Stadium, few appear, but many that should don’t appear. A victory on Saturday would have potentially allowed Grambling’s football program to gain some of those local sponsorships.
All of the SWAC titles, the HBCU championships are fine, but they come with an asterisk. It’s looked at by local media as titles and victories in small college football. A victory against a local major university would have wiped away the notion that GSU is just a small power.
But even without a victory, the game just confirmed what we all know already, that Grambling has one of the best programs in the area.