This Saturday (November 2nd) the Grambling State Tigers will celebrate their annual Homecoming against Mississippi Valley State. This homecoming will have a very different vibe though after the tumultuous past few weeks.
For those of you who do not the story Grambling State Football, they are a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, aka the NCAA conference with the best abbreviation of SWAC. In 2011, Hall of Fame quarterback and Grambling State alum Doug Williams was brought on as head coach of the football team. He had immediate success and led the Tigers to the 2011 SWAC conference title. That is when the honeymoon period for Williams ended.
After posting an abysmal record of 1-10 last year, and losing the first two games of this season by a combined score of 71-19, Grambling State fired their popular coach. This was not well received by the football team at all, and it brought to the surface quite a bit of tension that had supposedly been building between the team and the schools administration for some time now. The team was pissed about the way they had been treated over the past few years.
A few of the issues raised by players were concerned with provisions provided for the team on away trips. Instead of flying to away games as most Division I programs do, Grambling State often chose to send their team to their games via bus, even as far as Kansas City and Indianapolis which are 600 and 800 miles away respectively. Not only would the team be sent on 12 hour bus rides to games, but also the school would not provide the team with meals or stipends to go get meals themselves.
In addition to the treatment of the team on away trips, players cited such health problems as mold and mildew on uniforms and equipment in addition to the facilities, which has caused multiple cases of staph infection. That is just absurd, these kids are getting staph infections because of neglect from the school????
The firing of Coach Williams seemed to be the last straw, after several unsuccessful meetings with school administration, the team finally called it quits, literally. On Wednesday the 16th, the team revolted. They didn’t show up to practice and walked out on the university. This was no one day strike either, the team refused to show for the teams away game that Saturday at Jacksonville State.
After speaking with recently fired coach Doug Williams, Grambling State players begrudgingly returned to practice last week and played on Saturday (where they lost, shocker)
This week is their Homecoming game against Mississippi Valley State will a welcome celebration of a team that needs some love from their community. The school has disrespected them and hopefully this week serves as new beginning for the relationship between administration and the players and they start to get the respect they deserve.