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Doug Williams 'coming home' as Grambling coach -- again
Carve a Mt. Rushmore tribute at Grambling State, there could only be one face on the monument. It would be Eddie Robinson, the late coach who won 408 games in his storied 57 year career.
So, then, it’s almost sacrilege to suggest anyone else could be nearly as synonymous with Grambling as Robinson.
“When you think about them,” said Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Monte Coleman, “in some sense you think about Coach Rob. And then you think about Doug Williams.”
Williams is the new old coach at Grambling. Or old new coach. You figure out the order.
Williams, the former Grambling quarterback, has returned for his second term as Grambling head coach. He’s one of four new coaches - most of them new old coaches, with previous experience in the league - in the Southwest Athletic Conference, which held its annual media day Tuesday.
Melvin Spears is at Alcorn State, his fourth stop in the SWAC, including Grambling. Heishma Northern, hired to his first coaching job by Williams at Grambling, is at Prairie View A&M. And Kevin Ramsey is at Texas Southern as interim head coach, the description that fits most of TSU’s head coaches.
This brings me to my favorite bit of football trivia:
With Williams (Redskins), A&M’s Anthony Jones (Redskins, Chargers), Alabama State’s Reggie Barlow (Jaguars, Bucs), Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Monte Coleman (Redskins), Southern’s Stump Mitchell (Cardinals), Mississippi Valley’s Karl Moregan (Bucs, Oilers) the SWAC has more former NFL players as head coaches than any conference.
The NFL, three times the size of the SWAC, only has 10 former NFL players as head coaches.
Williams, as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the Redskins (when Jones was his roommate), is the most high-profile of the bunch.
“He’s amazing,” Northern said. “Being there with him and just being around the (football) complex, you had people stopping off the Interstate when they see the Grambling sign. You’d be in there in the office with pictures or Wheaties boxes they’d send in, people wanting him to sign it.
“We’d be eating at a restaurant and somebody would bring over their kids and say, ‘He’s the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl.’ “
Williams, who’ll turn 56 in three weeks, left Grambling after the 2003 season season to join the Tampa Bay Bucs’ front office. In 2010, he was hired as general manager of a struggling United Football League team in Norfolk, Va.
“At this stage of my life, I looked at it from the standpoint I’m going back home,” Williams said of his return to Grambling. “I can get my family involved coming to games. My mom, who is 81, still loves football. She’ll come to games.”
There’s another lure: A Grambling signee named D.J. Williams, Doug’s son. Funny if it turns out that Doug Williams’ greatest Grambling legacy becomes his own son.
For now, though, Williams stands nicely on his own, clearly in Robinson’s shadow but hardly lost there.
“What makes me synonymous is I did come back to coach there,” Williams said. “I’m glad to be in that neighborhood.”
The precise neighborhood is just off Interstate 20, at Louisiana exit 20, where tourists see the Grambling name on the freeway sign and meander to campus. You can visit campus now and maybe see the strongest link from Coach Rob to Grambling of the present. Bring your Wheaties box with Doug Williams on the front, just in case.
By Mark McCarter, The Huntsville Times