Eddie G. Robinson left his mark nationwide and at Grambling State University, becoming the winningest coach in NCAA history with 408 wins before being later surpassed.
Robinson, who passed away in 2007, will be honored during a 104th Birthday Remembrance celebration starting at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, at the Eddie Robinson Museum.
Before Robinson reached this feat, he was just a young quarterback out of Jackson, Louisiana. He attended Leland College where he was a star quarterback. During his two seasons as quarterback, he led the football team to a 18-1 career record.
Robinson also served as the team’s assistant coach during his final two years and credited his time at Leland College for his knowledge of playbooks, thanks to Leland College head coach Rueben Turner.
After learning about an opening, Robinson applied to become the head coach at then Louisiana Negro Normal and Institute, which would later become Grambling State University.
Robinson would get the head coaching job and put his knowledge straight to the test. In his inaugural season as head coach, he led his team to a 3-5 record. The following season he led Grambling to a 8-0 season, not only going undefeated, but not allowing a single point all season, a feat accomplished only twice in NCAA history.
From there, Robinson never looked back as he would lead Grambling to two more perfect seasons, which includes the school’s best 10-0 record while outscoring opponents 356-61.
He would also lead Grambling to 17 conference titles and win several National Negro championships.
Robinson became the first black coach to surpass 400 career wins, and finished with a career record of 408 wins, 165 loses, and 15 ties.
It’s said that Coach Robinson had a great coaching style that helped Grambling State football players thrive on and off the field.
Coach Wilbert Ellis, another Grambling State legend, was mentored by Coach Robinson and credits his coaching style to Coach Robinson.
“I wanted to be like him (Coach Robinson),” Ellis said. “I wanted to be able to be a drum major for peace, and mold boys into men the way Coach Robinson did.”
Robinson was able to mold 200 football players into NFL players, which was more players than every school in the NCAA except Notre Dame. Included in those 200 players is the first historically black college draft pick in Paul Younger.
Four of Robinsons players are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — Willie Davis, Willis Brown and Buck Buchanan and Charlie Joiner. Buck Buchanan not only was inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he also became the first player from a historically black college to be selected first overall in the NFL draft.
Robinson also coached the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl in Doug Williams. Eddie G. Robinson was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997, after he officially retired. The Football Writers of America’s Coach of the Year award and Grambling State’s football stadium are named after him.