Another coach with NFL pedigree is headed to run an HBCU football program—and a legendary program at that.
Hue Jackson, a former Cleveland Browns head coach who also had coordinator and assistant coaching stints with the NFL’s Cincinnati, Atlanta, Baltimore, Oakland (now Las Vegas), and Washington franchises, is reportedly finalizing a deal to become the next head coach at Grambling State University. The deal was first reported by the website FootballScoop, which follows college and pro coaching news.
Jackson taking over the Tigers’ program will make him the latest in a line of coaches with either NFL experience or a legendary college coaching resume to lead at Grambling. It also continues a trend of former NFL players or coaches joining HBCU programs, which before recently had long lacked the resources to compete with Power Five conference schools for talent.
Grambling’s most legendary coach was the late Eddie Robinson, who led the program for a total of 57 seasons. Robinson retired in 1997 as the winningest coach in college football history and his 408 career wins still ranks third all-time. More than 200 of his players reached the NFL. Some, like James “Shack” Harris, the first Black quarterback to start a season in the NFL, contributed to breaking down racial barriers in the sport.
Robinson was succeeded by Doug Williams, who in 1988 became the first Black QB to win a Super Bowl. Williams is now a senior adviser to the NFL’s Washington Football Team.
In 2020, NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders was hired to lead the Jackson State University squad that had lost more than half its games the previous six seasons and led it to a SWAC championship for the first time in 14 years. To take the Grambling gig, Jackson is leaving a Tennessee State program head coached by NFL Hall of Famer Eddie George. Jackson was offensive coordinator at Tennessee State, which went 5-6 this season.
Fun fact: Grambling, Jackson State and Tennessee State all have tigers as their team mascots.