The Grambling State football team’s season begins this Sunday, Sept. 5, versus Tennessee State in the Black College Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
The Tigers look to bounce back from this past spring season, where the team did not register a win in four games.
For the Tigers, it has been a lot of coaching staff moves and roster turnover. In the spring, Grambling lost two offensive coaches and longtime starting quarterback Geremy Hickbottom.
The Tigers added Eric Marty as the new offensive coordinator and Bryant Ross as the new offensive line coach. The Tigers also added Eric Rhodes as the new cornerback’s coach.
As the Tigers go into the season opener, Tennessee State poses an early season threat with their new head coach Eddie George. The team looks to be sharp in every aspect of the game.
“It’s about taking care of everything — every aspect — you need to take care of to accomplish whatever you’re trying to do,” GSU head coach Broderick Fobbs said.
“Think about cleaning a room. You can have the middle of the room totally clean and straight, but if the corners are still dirty and not taken care of, is the room really clean?”
For Fobbs and the Tigers, the football game is not the only test they face. Academics and COVID-19 have given the team another challenge that they will look to overcome.
“It’s about getting the players to think about everything they do preparing for game day, making sure they’re taking care of all the testing protocols and everything all the way back to taking care of academics and making sure they can be out there.”
Recently, the Tigers have been ramping up practices and they roll on. “I think we’re showing some really good spurts,” Fobbs said.
The camp has been rigorous for players, but for a good cause leading towards this matchup.
The matchup between the schools is rich in history. Grambling has won the last five meetings and holds a 22-18-1 all-time lead over Tennessee State.
The schools both rank one and two all-time in the number of HBCU national championships. Tennessee State currently sits at 16 while Grambling State sits one behind at 15.
The two programs have the most former players to go on to play professional football among HBCUs. Grambling has had more than 200 former players while Tennessee State has had 121 draftees.
The two programs are both products of great football coaching and the history shows. In 1960s and 1970s, these teams were led by the great Eddie Robinson and John Merritt.
The biggest game between these two teams was seen in 1967. Both teams had big talk surrounding the chance of NFL on both rosters while also winning many games.
On Sunday, the teams will meet again for the first time since 2002. The new school will look to renew this long tenured rivalry.
The game will be nationally televised, as it will be on NFL network. The game will start at 3 p.m.