Skip the side show, Tigers focus on kickoff; Grambling roundup

Polar opposites.

That’s Grambling football coach Broderick Fobbs and the rookie coach at Jackson State, Deion “Prime Time” Sanders.

They are both men of faith – that they have in common.

Fobbs is dignified, no nonsense, confident but not cocky, and accomplished as a head collegiate football coach who has 51-21 record, including a 40-8 mark in Southwestern Athletic Conference competition, and a national HBCU championship plus a SWAC crown to his credit.

Sanders is brash, flamboyant, and outwardly emotional, with his college coaching career just underway and his SWAC debut coming Saturday at noon when JSU tees it up in Grambling’s Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium.

In the postgame press conference after his team’s 53-0 opening win at home two weeks ago over outmanned Edward Waters (enrollment 968 – yes, that’s three digits), Sanders went on a tirade mistakenly believing jewelry and cell phones and other personal items had been stolen from his locker during the game. The reflection on Jackson State, blanketed across ESPN and other national sports media platforms, was initially a harsh glare on the institution, at the very least, and drew condemnation from, among others, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

Other than his wedding ring, and a SWAC championship ring, it’s doubtful Fobbs wears jewelry to the stadium, if ever.

Fobbs, true to form, downplays the media tendency to spotlight Sanders heading into Saturday’s matchup.

“We’re not playing Deion Sanders. We’re playing the Jackson State football team,” he said. “For us, it’s not about the side show, and all the bells and whistles. We’ve won a lot of football games here for a lot of years. The reason why is our focus has remained the same. It’s something we’ve been taught, it’s something we’ve ingrained in our players. It’s tradition here at Grambling State University to focus on what we can control.”

What Fobbs and his G-Men can control is playing fundamentally sound football, minimizing mistakes and making the visiting side show into an afterthought as the result of a season-opening win by the home team.

BASKETBALL: The last regular-season games are at home Thursday (Alabama State) and Saturday (Alabama A&M) in SWAC doubleheaders.

The Grambling women (8-8, 7-5), who tip at 5:30 Thursday and 6 o’clock Saturday, hadn’t won since Valentine’s Day until Monday night’s 78-54 romp at Mississippi Valley. In fairness, postponements resulted in the Lady Tigers playing only once in the last two weeks, a competitive loss at league-unbeaten Jackson State.

Senior Justice Coleman joined the school’s 1,000-Point Club Monday night, posting 14 points in the win while classmate Ariel Williams drained 8 of 11 behind the 3-point arc in a 26-point eruption.

The G-Men (9-11, 7-6) have slipped into a three-game skid – by a combined total of 10 points — on the heels of four straight wins. The 67-63 loss at Valley (2-20, 2-12) was alarming, coming to a team that the Tigers handled 85-72 a month ago in Grambling.

VOLLEYBALL: The Lady Tigers (5-3, 3-2) upped their win streak to five Monday night, dispatching visiting Alcorn State 3-1. They step away from SWAC competition Thursday with a short drive to the Thomas Assembly Center for a 5 p.m. match at Louisiana Tech, then visit UAPB next Monday.

BASEBALL: The Tigers’ midweek game at much-improved ULM has shifted to tonight at 6, pushed back from Tuesday because of the persistent rain that finally abated yesterday afternoon. The G-Men (0-3) go to Southern this weekend to start the SWAC season.

BOWLING: The final action of the season is slated to begin Friday in Atlanta at the TNBA/HBCU Invitational.

TRACK: The outdoor season opens Saturday in Fort Worth at the Jet Relays.

Image: Grambling

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