Struggling rivals seek redemption in Bayou Classic

With their hopes of a Southwestern Athletic Conference title

gone for both Grambling and Southern, Saturday’s nationally

televised Bayou Classic in the Superdome gives both teams a chance

to finish disappointing seasons in a big-game environment.

The Tigers (1-9) and Jaguars (3-7) enter the game with the worst

combined record in the event’s 39-year history.

They’re wrapping up a season that saw the Jaguars fire their

coach after only two games, while Tigers coach Doug Williams has

learned that even his status as a playing legend and successful

coach in his previous stint on the job doesn’t buy much patience

from unhappy fans.

”This has been a tough year, one that nobody at Grambling is

used to,” Williams said. ”These are the kind of years that

blindside you. A lot of our fans are restless. Well, they forget

that I’m an alumnus and I don’t like it either.”

At Southern, interim coach Dawson Odoms knows that the

”interim” part of his title will be removed after the game, but

he isn’t sure if the ”coach” part will be gone as well.

Athletic director William Broussard has said he will make a

decision on whether to retain Odoms, who was the defensive

coordinator until the firing of Stump Mitchell, or begin the search

process for someone else.

”Who wouldn’t want to be the coach here?” asked Odoms. ”This

is a great place.

”But whatever decision they make, I’m OK with it.”

Certainly Odoms’ status would have been improved with a little

luck in the Jaguars’ last two games, one-point losses to Alabama

A&M and Alabama State.

The first game went to overtime and the second ended with an

unsuccessful two-point try by the Jaguars after a late

touchdown.

But late disappointments and coaching intrigue aside, this is a

chance for two archrivals to salvage something from the wreckage of

their seasons in what is still the showcase game for the two

schools.

A crowd of more than 40,000 is expected in the Superdome and the

game will be nationally televised on NBC, although that television

contract is expiring after this season.

And for Southern, it’s an opportunity to end a four-game losing

streak in its meetings with Grambling, a skid that has seen the

Tigers regain the series lead, 20-18.

”I haven’t beaten Grambling since I’ve been here,” said Dray

Joseph, Southern’s junior quarterback. ”Our record’s better than

theirs, and our record’s not that good.

”So if we lose to those guys, it’d be tough.”