When the Grambling State Tigers hired Hue Jackson as their new head coach in December it was a bit of a shock to many. The former NFL head coach of the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders, had just finished one season with Eddie George as offensive coordinator of the Tennessee State Tigers.
Grambling State, the most storied black college football program, was looking for a jolt, and hiring someone of Jackson’s football pedigree looked like a very savvy move. While Jackson hit the road running, he received criticism for his coaching staff selections, most notably Art Briles.
But with that in the past, Jackson is now looking at how he can get the program up to speed with the likes of SWAC foes Jackson State and FAMU. Both schools have been recruiting, improving and raising visibility.
In an interview on “The Pivot Podcast” last weekend, Jackson talked about what it would take to get the Tigers to an elite level as an FCS team.
“I know for a fact, if there was five million dollars, we can change the face of this really quick, all of it. I think there are ways of doing it. There are people who want to help, but at the same time people got understand what that looks like.”
— Grambling State Football 🐯 (@GSUFootball01) April 1, 2022
Players Don’t Feel Supported, Call Out Athletics Program And School President
Things have been a bit of a mess at Grambling State with student-athletes calling out the program for lack of facilities and feeble monetary commitments to the program. Players reportedly believe the school officials aren’t in it for the betterment of the program or student-athletes. The 2021 team finished 4-7 overall and 3-5 in conference.
And at the root of their concerns is school President Rich Gallot, whom players have no confidence in as a leader.
School athletics director Trayvean Scott said on a podcast that the root problem is “talent acquisition and talent development.”
”You also have to provide the bare necessities for the student-athletes,” Scott added.
Since 2018 the Tigers are 16-21 overall and 11-15 in the SWAC, not exactly the winning tradition of the past.
President Gallot also appeared on the podcast and defended himself to an extent.
“Coach Jackson and I talk all the time, and I said, ‘Look, We have to give you the resource you need to get the results we expected. We’re not going into this saying they’ll do more with more with less, we want them to do more with more.’”
Jackson Made Controversial Hire That Didn’t Help Matters: Hire Resigned Amidst Blowback
In late February, Jackson threw everyone for a tizzy when he named former Baylor coach Art Briles as his new offensive coordinator. Briles was at the center of the Baylor player sexual assault scandal in 2016 and was subsequently fired for lack of institutional control and disregarding information about his players in the matter. Basically, he covered up sensitive, vital information to keep his football program intact.
Hiring Briles, under the circumstances, caused immediate blowback from famous alumni, and football fans all around. Former GSU quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams immediately voiced his displeasure about the hiring telling the Washington Post this:
“I’m not a fan at all. I’m very, very disappointed in Grambling, I really am … I talked to the A.D. a couple times. They knew where I stood, but they did it and if that’s what they want to do, that’s fine, I’m out. If I support him. I condone it.”
Jackson defended the hiring and penned this letter where he outlined why he made the hire.
You know what’s a critical step in redemption? Acknowledgement of wrongdoing. Which Briles hasn’t come close to doing. Spare me all of this. https://t.co/OCC9FHsr7K
— Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) February 28, 2022
No sooner than four days later Briles resigned.
“I feel that my continued presence will be a distraction to you and your team, which is the last thing I want. I have the utmost respect for the university, and your players.”
Many believe Doug Williams’ comments played a huge role in Briles decision to step away.
Sources told The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman that Williams, a Grambling legend, has major pull on campus and his dissatisfaction with the hiring basically crushed the move.
“Doug Williams has the influence to change things. … Doug has key people on campus that will do whatever he wants them to do.”
Jackson has his work cut out for him rebuilding the Grambling State name, while also regaining the trust of his players and alumni following that insensitive decision. And as we know, being able to please the alumni and boosters and celebrity affiliates is just as important as the product he puts on the field.