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Hue Jackson to be named Grambling State’s new head football coach

Jackson, with several years of NFL experience, was Tennessee State’s offensive coordinator this season

Former Grambling State and NFL star Doug Williams is pretty happy his alma mater is expected to hire Hue Jackson as its next head coach.

Grambling has scheduled a news conference for Friday at the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.

Williams, who starred at Grambling under legendary coach Eddie Robinson and became the first African American quarterback to win a Super Bowl, said hiring Jackson will work as long as alums remember the past is the past.

“That’s something that we all have to step back from 30, 40 years ago. There’s never going to be another Eddie Robinson,” said Williams, the 17th player taken in the 1978 draft. “Coach was there before segregation. He got players that didn’t have a choice but to go to Jackson State, Grambling, Tennessee State or somewhere else. Now, those guys are at Alabama, so it’s not going to be the same.

“We have to get away from the past. The past is the past. Even myself, I’ve been gone over 40 years. I was a rookie in 1978. That ain’t here no more. We have to move on. You respect history and you keep history, but you can’t bring the comparisons to today’s situation. That part is unfair.”

Jackson will replace Broderick Fobbs, who played at Grambling in the 1990s. The three-time Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Coach of the Year was fired on Nov. 15.

Fobbs, who was 54-32 in eight seasons, won a Black college football national championship, two SWAC championships and made two Celebration Bowl appearances.

Grambling went 4-7 this season, although it did beat Southern University in the Bayou Classic and finished tied for third in the SWAC West Division. Fobbs was fired before the win over Southern.

Jackson has spent the past year as the offensive coordinator at Tennessee State under former star NFL running back Eddie George.

“I’m happy for Hue to get an opportunity to be a head coach again,” said Jackson State coach Deion Sanders. “I’m not happy in the sense that it affects Eddie George.”

Tennessee State went 5-6 overall and was tied for fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 3-3 record this season.

Jackson’s offense ranked fifth in the conference in points (19.7) and yards (318.4). Jackson has always been considered an innovative offensive mind. He’ll need time to get players to fit his scheme like any new head coach.

Jackson coached the Cleveland Browns for parts of three seasons before being fired in October 2018. He finished the season as special assistant to Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.

Jackson went 3-36-1 with the Browns, including an 0-16 season in 2017.

Jackson, who spent one season as the Oakland Raiders head coach in 2011, also spent time as an assistant coach with the Bengals, Raiders, Washington Football Team, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens.

“If they’ve got players with talent,” Williams said, “he’ll get the best out of them, and they’ll need support from the alumni. That’s the key.”

A big part of Jackson’s job at Grambling will be raising money or finding creative ways to generate revenue, so he can upgrade every level of the program. Sanders often compares being a historically Black college and university head coach to movie mogul Tyler Perry, who often writes, produces and stars in the movies he makes.

“Think about this: A two-time NFL head coach, offensive coordinator, at Southern California and a lot of other places,” said Williams, who was head coach at Grambling for two stints, from 1998 to 2003 and 2011 to 2013. “How many guys like that are gonna come to a historical Black college and coach football?

“It’s a great thing for Grambling and for Hue to want to do it. I mean we know he’s there to coach football, because there’s not a lot of other things to do in Grambling.”

Jean-Jacques Taylor, a native of Dallas, is an award-winning journalist who has covered the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL for 25 years and is president of JJT Media Group.