Fobbs record at GSU deserves celebration, reflects national trend

By Roosevelt Wright, III

North Louisiana and “GramFam” nationwide were stunned this week after learning, Grambling Football HC Broderick Fobbs would no longer serve as acting coach for the Historic Football Program.

Fobbs, a Monroe native, began his career as an athlete playing at Carroll High School as the school’s star player during the early ’90s. I happened to attend Carroll as a Freshman when Fobbs was a Senior. He has always been a classy guy with a lot of heart and hard work ethic. He was never a behavioral concern but very devoted to the game and he seemed to energize the other players around him. Perhaps, those same qualities were recognized by Grambling when he was hired in 2013.

Fobbs came to Grambling while the school was experiencing athletic challenges. The team had just taken a unified strike due to several concerns about the athletic program. The money was low and times were hard. It was very difficult for Grambling to win over potential football stars because the school’s legacy for winning was slowly diminishing.

Upon the arrival of Fobbs, it seemed the climate changed. His presence brought immediate enthusiasm and motivation to the slumping program. In Louisiana, only one game matters… The Bayou Classic. When Grambling plays its instate rival, Southern University, it’s more like the HBCU Superbowl.

Fans will accept a losing season as long as their school wins THAT game. Although Grambling lost the Classic in Fobbs’ first year, the Tigers went on a three-year winning streak after that and also earned a National Title in 2016. This success made Fobbs very popular and it made Grambling a desired place again for hopeful High School athletes. 

However, since the days of championships and great wins against rivals, Grambling has been beaten by Southern for the past three Bayou Classics and has failed to keep a consistently winning football program for reasons which may be even bigger than just the Head Coach.

The growing trend, however, is the NFL’s new interest in HBCU Culture. Former Grambling Icons, Doug Williams and James “Shack” Harris have organized the first Legacy Bowl, sort of a Pro Bowl for the Top 100 HBCU Athletes. It’s to be played in New Orleans in February and its being supported very heavily by the NFL and former NFL Players who graduated from HBCUs. The NFL has made a commitment to partner with the Legacy Bowl so pro teams could have a look at players from HBCUs which may have been overlooked due to the size of the institutions. 

This partnership with the NFL has opened the gate for former NFL players to fill coaching positions at HBCUs. The most notable of these coaches is Coach Deion Sanders, two-time Superbowl Champion, who has drastically evolved the spirit and pride at Jackson St. University. The presence of Sanders on the campus has attracted ESPN and several Sports networks which normally pay no attention at all to HBCU games.

Tyrone Wheatly, a 10 Year NFL Pro, came on at Morgan State. Eddie George, a former Heisman Winner and NFL Record Holder for Career Running Yards (10k), is now the Head Coach at Tennessee St. University. Because of these heavyweight coaches, the schools have seen an upward trend in attendance, sponsorships, signings, and even free press coverage on National Sports shows.

It has already been speculated by many that Grambling may be interested in meeting with former Louisiana NFL Player, Marshal Faulk, as well as Super Bowl Champion, Emmitt Smith. Both former athletes have expressed unmeasured support for helping bridge the gap between professional opportunities with HBCU players.  

Upon the start of the 2021 NFL Season, only 18 players were listed on active rosters from HBCUs. Three of those players were from Grambling St. University.

It’s always a heartbreak to see great stories come to an end. Certainly, Fobbs has much to be proud of. He took a struggling football program and brought it back to life. His tenure will never be forgotten and his accomplishments should be celebrated.