by T. Scott Boatright
The Grambling State University football team has reported to campus and kicked off preseason preparations Tuesday afternoon with a “State of the Tigers Address” so to speak from GSU President Rick Gallot.
Head Coach Hue Jackson started things off with an impromptu dance contest of sorts for players that was won at the end by safeties coach Dedrick Dodge, who sprinted to stage of the auditorium of the GSU Nursing Building and playfully showed off his skills, much to the delight of the G-Men, before being declared the winner by Jackson.
Then came Gallot’s “State of the Tigers” address.
“I’m excited,” Gallot told the G-Men. “It’s been kind of slow with not a lot going on. And when I got to work this morning I noticed a difference, a shift in energy, and I think it’s because y’all are here now. We’re all excited about and looking forward to this upcoming season.
“When I talk to faculty and staff, I often talk about their mission here at the university. Of course, your mission as football players is to win games, win the (Southwestern Athletic Conference), and win the Celebration Bowl, right?”
Gallot then told the team it takes everybody to accomplish a mission, and talked about the roles they all needed to play for the good of the whole of the team, telling a story about late President John F. Kennedy visiting NASA in the early 1960s and talking to workers there about their mission to travel to the room, even mentioning a NASA custodian there that day was playing his role in that mission supporting all the other workers.
“I say all that to say that no matter what your role on the team is, you all have a role to play. And I think that if you all work together, we’ll accomplish those missions and many more.
“Now I don’t know a thing to tell you about football. I was in the band, so I’m out of league on that one. But what I can tell you is that as president, there are some expectations that I have that have nothing to do with what you do on the football field. They’re about what you do when you’re not on the field.”
Gallot then focused on their roles as student-athletes, emphasizing the word student.
“It starts with the fact you have to go to class,” Gallot told the Tigers. “You have to go to class and you have to do your work. You can’t wait until right before the SWAC Championship that we’ll be (hopefully) hosting here on campus. If you need help in your classes let somebody know so that we can provide you with the support that you need to be successful in the classroom.
“There are a lot of people who will be looking at you, every step you take, everywhere you go. And you’ve got to live up to the expectations of doing the right thing all the time. Not only when you’re out running a play, but during your entire time here.”
Gallot told the players that they likely will encounter those that might not want them to be successful.
“Y’all know that, right?” Gallot said. “Every team that you face, the No. 1 team they will want to beat is you. Grambling. They can lose every other game the whole season, but if they don’t worry about beating any other team, they’re going to want to beat y’all. And just like those teams you’ll have all season long, there will be people that don’t want you to succeed.
I want you to know that from me, the entire faculty and staff, we are here to support you guys in being successful. But you have to do your part. So all I’m asking is that y’all be great students, great student-athletes. I really would like for us to host the SWAC Championship. The top-seeded team will host the SWAC Championship, and I’d really like y’all to do that. Can y’all do that for Prez?”
Gallot then pushed the bar a little higher, hinting at the financial payout that could be received with a Celebration bowl berth.
“And those of you from Georgia would love for us to go to Atlanta and play in the Celebration Bowl, wouldn’t you?” Gallot asked. “There are a million reasons we should have to want to play in that game.”
“I appreciate you guys being here. I know there are many other schools you could be playing for. We’re going to support and wrap whatever we need around you for you to be great, to be successful, so go out and have a great semester and great season. I might not know all of your names at this moment, but I love each and every one of you. God bless you, and let’s go win some games.”