Early Wednesday morning, Grambling State University fired head football coach Doug Williams days away from the G-Men’s away game in Kansas City, Mo. After just starting the football season with two losses, and an eight-game losing streak, the university thought it was best to go in a different route.
“There wasn’t a lot of conversation. I told him ‘OK’ and I was gone,” Williams told The News-Star.
According to The News-Star, Williams received a phone call around 8 a.m. to come down to the president’s office in Long-Jones Hall. When he arrived, Pogue handed him a letter.
The school announced assistant coach George Ragsdale, a former NFL player, as the interim head coach after releasing Williams. Ragsdale works with Grambling’s running backs and comes with coaching experience from the SWAC and MEAC conferences.
“We recognize Doug Williams’ many contributions to our football legacy,” said President Frank G. Pogue in a press release from the university, “and we express our deep appreciation for his service to Grambling State University and we wish him well in the future.”
According to an official press release from the media relations office, the university will buy out the remainder of his contract. According to the university’s 2012-2013 operating fund budget, Williams’ annual salary was $225,000, more than Pogue’s salary.
Looking at the numbers, Williams’ salary makes up 44.8 percent of the football staff’s salaries combined, not including student wages.
Still shocked from the news, Dalfred Jones, 23, who played on last year’s football team and now resides in Lafayette, said he never thought Williams would be fired.
“Doug was a good coach and I enjoyed playing for him, said Jones. “He taught us a lot about Grambling’s tradition.”
The university has gained national publicity from Williams’ success. To this day, he is still the only Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl (XXII) and be named the most valuable player. Williams, 58, was a first-round draft pick, 17th pick overall in 1978.
“The coach doesn’t dictate what happens on the field, a coach might call the plays, but he doesn’t execute them, a player does,” said Jones, who now works at KLFY TV-10.
Local businessman James E. Moore has kept up with Grambling’s football team for at least 53 years and was the late Eddie G. Robinson’s personal barber for around 30 years. He said he heard about Williams getting fired from his costumers, but knew it was true after seeing it on the local news.
“To me, the students were telling him all the time that the problem was the quarterback,” said Moore, who owns Moore’s Barbershop in The Village. “Instead he would reply ‘I am the coach.'”
The Grambling resident feels the right decision was made and the university will benefit from this.
“Grambling has been on the map for so long as a football team and I think that it is time to be corrected,” said Moore.
Grambling students were in disbelief when they heard about Williams getting fired.
Kinesiology major, Christi’an Crockett, 24, feels that letting him go was a premature decision with a big game coming up this weekend against Lincoln University of Missouri.
“They didn’t even start the conference games yet,” Crockett said, “Even though we had a horrible season last year, at least wait until after the season.”
New Orleans native and former G-Man Joshua Jason disagrees with Crockett saying, he feels that the team will become motivated from this. He is the owner of Heavenly Hands -a barbershop in Grambling- he has also cut both Williams’ and his son D.J.’s hair.
Jason said he does not feel that Grambling’s enrollment would be affected from Williams no longer as head coach.
“If we have the best coach in the nation and we’re losing all the games, enrollment is not going to increase,” Jason added.
Richard Gallot says he has been a dedicated Grambling football fan for over 50 years, and has known Williams since he first came in the summer of 1973.
“I am sorry to hear my coach is getting fired, said Gallot, “but after all, the game must go on.”
Highlights & lowlights of Williams’ time as coach
December 1998, Williams hired by Grambling to replaced legendary coach Eddie Robinson
Williams served as coach from 1998 to 2003, amassing a record of 52-18
Williams leads GSU to three straight SWAC championships (2000-2002), going 31-4 during those seasons
Williams resigns in February 2004 to pursue an opportunity with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Williams returns as coach in February 2011
In his first year back the team started 0-4 but rallied, finishing 8-4 and winning the 2011 SWAC championship
The 2012 Tigers finished 1-11, the worst record in Grambling’s history
GSU starts 2013 season 0-2
On Wednesday, Williams was fired
Williams’ final record as head coach of GSU 63-32.