Southern downs Grambling 40-17 in Bayou Classic
As much as Grambling could have used a morale-boosting triumph
in the Bayou Classic, Dray Joseph and the Southern Jaguars were not
going to let that happen.
Joseph and Lee Dross connected for three touchdowns and Southern
defeated Grambling 40-17 Saturday.
The result left the Tigers (1-11, 0-8 Southwestern Athletic
Conference) with the program’s worst-ever overall record to close a
season which will be remembered more for a mid-season player
walkout than anything on the field.
”I’m OK with that because you know what? One thing it did is
brought a lot of attention to this one game,” Grambling coach
Dennis ”Dirt” Winston said. ”The world wanted to see what these
guys were going to do. … I think they represented well. Southern
today was just a better football team.”
Despite all the losses, Grambling offensive lineman Clint Marsh
said the season ”went fairly decent with what we got accomplished
for the younger players and the future of Grambling.”
”That’s what I wanted the young players to know – when you
stick together as a team, there’s nothing that you can’t
overcome,” Marsh said.
Next for Grambling is the administration’s decision regarding
who to hire as permanent head coach.
Winston, who was in charge only for Grambling’s last four games,
led the Tigers to their only victory and two close losses before
the Bayou Classic. He said he’d like the job, but is under the
impression that McNeese State tight-ends coach Roderick Fobbs is
the favorite to take over.
”I’m just going to do the best job I can do until they tell me,
`Hey, you’re fired,”’ Winston said. ”Until something is
permanent, I’m going to continue to work, continue to recruit,
continue to talk to these players.”
Marsh said Winston, a former NFL linebacker and former assistant
under legendary former Grambling coach Eddie Robinson, did a good
job keeping players together and making the Tigers more
”I talk to a lot of the players. They really, really do like
coach Winston,” Marsh said. ”It’s more than just a football team,
it’s a family. I really don’t want them to split and I think the
best chance of avoiding a split is if coach Winston is still the
Southern (8-4, 7-2) had already won the SWAC’s Western Division
and will head to the league championship game against Jackson State
in Houston on Dec. 7.
But the Jaguars had no interest in letting up on their
struggling rivals, racing to a 27-3 halftime lead on a short
scoring run by Lenard Tillery and TD catches of 17 and 30 yards by
”Momentum is everything in college football, so just going into
the next game with a victory is a great deal for us,” Joseph said.
”Jackson State has been sitting there preparing for us for three
weeks and they probably watched this game today, so just having the
momentum going for us next week is a great thing for us.”
Grambling pulled to 27-17 on Johnathan Williams’ touchdown
passes of 11 yards to Robert Bailey and 8 yards to Anthony McGhee.
But in the fourth quarter, Southern’s defense thwarted the comeback
attempt by forcing turnovers. Williams was intercepted by defensive
back Virgil Williams. Later, Williams lost a fumble on a sack by
linebacker Daniel Brown.
Williams, who moved into a starting role after an injury to
season-opening starter D.J. Williams, finished 14 of 21 for 123
Doss finished with six catches for 117 yards and surpassed the
1,000-yard mark for the season. Tillery gained 104 yards on 19
Grambling’s season took a historic turn when players walked out
on several days of practice and Jackson State’s Oct. 19 homecoming
game in protest of the conditions under which they trained and
traveled, citing in particular their long bus rides to Indianapolis
and Kansas City.
Player complaints included decrepit practice and training
facilities, including a torn-up weight room floor, which was
replaced after their protest.
The seeds of revolt were planted in September with the firing of
head coach Doug Williams, who is one of the school’s most famous
alumni, having won a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins.
Williams was first replaced by George Ragsdale, who went 0-5
before being replaced by Winston during the week of the
The walkout lasted one game, which was forfeited. The SWAC fined
Grambling $20,000 and ordered the Tigers to play at Jackson State
the next three seasons.
Those associated with Grambling hope long-term effects of the
protest eventually include a better relationship between prominent
football alumni and the university’s administration so they may
rebuild trust with prospective donors who have the ability to
address some of the program’s ills quickly.
Yet, during the game, it was apparent that wasn’t going to
happen overnight. Doug Williams attended the game, watching most of
it by himself in the Superdome press box before heading down to the
Grambling sideline in the final minutes.
He said he wanted to support his son, D.J., and the many players
he recruited, but otherwise declined comment on the extent to which
any healing has taken place.
”I think it’s better if I stay out of it,” he said.
Marsh said relationships between current players and the
administration is not entirely restored yet, either.
”There’s a lot more that could be done,” Marsh said.