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Spring Practice, and the Passing of a Legend

It's been quiet as I'm working on my "New Realities of the Patriot League" piece for College Sporting News. Similarly, it's been quiet about spring practice in the media so far. The inside word I have is that spring practice is going OK, and everyone is "working hard and competing well." The trenches are getting particular attention as coach Coen is looking for kids who will be step up and handle the large scholarship line of Villanova this September 8th (our opening day at Goodman this year). Only two weeks until the Brown/White game, where we'll be able to see the progress of both lines!

That's it for this week, though in case you hadn't heard, a FCS coaching legend passed earlier this week, former Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson. The winningest head coach in Division I history, he built tiny Grambling State into a college powerhouse, giving the historically black university a formidable national presence. Starting as coach in 1941, he started coaching in a time when the Army wasn't even integrated, let alone the South. He also coached at a university that many white people would have never heard of in 1941. By the '50s and '60s, white America would be following Grambling State as well, especially in the south.

In 1949, the NFL's Rams took a chance on an undrafted All-American free agent from Grambling State called Paul "Tank" Younger who would become the first black football player to play in the NFL. Their "color-blindness" would pay off with Younger becoming an integral part of their rushing attack in three appearances in the NFC championship in five years. That opened the gateways for not only Grambling State athletes to make the NFL, but many other HBCU athletes as well. Coach Robinson shredded the color barrier by proving that black players were as good as white players - a point that hasn't been brought up enough in the columns eulogizing him.

Despite his deserved place in the pantheon of civil rights pioneers, it's coach Robinson the person - by all accounts a humble and deeply respected man - that stays with people the most. Not only was he successful by many measures (number of athletes going pro, winning seasons, Black College National Championships), he was most successful in getting kids ready for life. Generations of Grambling graduates thank him for preparing them for lives outside of college that had nothing to do with the NFL.

We will miss you Coach Rob.

Comments

Ngineer said…
Nice article. The passing of Coach Robinson is a time to pause and realize how one individual can have such an impact on the lives of others, both directly and indirectly. He belongs on the 'Rushmore' of college coaches.
Anonymous said…
Word going around the street is that Pete Morelli has been trying out for various teams in the Canadian Football League and is likely to earn a spot north of the border. Good for you pete, best of luck eh!

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