On the wall in his office, Grambling Tigers head football coach Broderick Fobbs has a large photograph of the greatest Tiger of all, coach Eddie Robinson.
Since Fobbs came home to Grambling as head coach in 2014, when contemplating a difficult situation, he has looked at that picture and struck up a conversation with Coach Rob.
“I’ll ask him what he did, or would have done, to address the particular problem, and I always feel I come away with the right answer,” said Fobbs, who played for the legend from 1992-96, just like his father before him did two decades earlier.
But the current set of circumstances, which have led to the 2020 season being played this spring, have been the most perplexing.
“This is one question he hasn’t been able to answer for me,” Fobbs said Thursday. “Covid-19, not playing in the fall, playing a spring schedule, these are things that haven’t been seen before.”
The 46-year-old Monroe native is eight years and two months into his time carrying forward the Grambling football legacy. Thanks to the pandemic delaying the 2020 campaign, he will finally begin his seventh season leading the Tigers next Saturday in Dallas against Prairie View A&M, in the State Fair Classic at the Cotton Bowl. Grambling is 51-21 under Fobbs, an even more impressive 40-8 in Southwestern Athletic Conference games.
Grambling’s triumphs in that span are highlighted by the 2016 Black college national championship in a 12-1 season, two SWAC championships (2016, 2017) and SWAC West Division titles from 2015-17. The past two seasons, the Tigers have gone 6-5 overall and 4-3 in conference play.
The state of the Grambling football program is strong, infinitely moreso than when Fobbs took the helm after the program collapsed to a 2-22 record in 2012 and 2013.
While the Tigers have made many trailblazing strides and landmark accomplishments through their history, they’ve never faced playing 20 games in a year. No football team has.
That’s the big picture Fobbs sees. He plans accordingly.
“I look at it holistically. It’s not just about the spring season, when we can hopefully play seven games. We will play in the fall and hope to play 13 games (including the SWAC Championship Game and Celebration Bowl). That’s 20 football games in the year 2021, something that’s never been done,” he said.
“It’s a spring season, but it’s also a spring practice. We have seven opportunities to compete with other teams and that makes it unique. It does build toward the complete fall 2021 season. You want to be sure that you are developing the players as you typically would during the spring, and try to win games while we’re doing that.”
Development came to a screeching halt after last Saturday’s scrimmage. Obviously, there’s been no chance for workouts this week, but the forecast is improving and the Tigers will be back on the field soon.
“It’s taken seven from the 25 units of practice we’re provided to prepare for the season. Now we’re down to 18 total and as a coach you want more.”
But he has been very pleased with the Tigers’ progress and talent level. He expects the team to knock off the rust quickly with the excitement of outside competition approaching for the first time since the 2019 Bayou Classic, two days after Thanksgiving.
Photo: by Carlton Hamlin