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August 21, 2014, 4:08 am

Williams: Football comes before lawsuit

  • Written by O.K. Davis
  • Published in Football

GRAMBLING, La. — Forget about the lawsuit he’s brought against the school.

Doug Williams is totally committed to getting Grambling State University’s football team prepared for the 2012 season.

“It’s not a distraction, because my job is to be the head football coach and to get the most out of our players,” he said. “Sure, it is out there and everybody knows about it, but it isn’t keeping me from doing the things I’ve always tried to do and that’s to be the very best coach I can be.”

Williams recently sued the school, claiming that Grambling reneged on contract promises and is now trying to pressure him to sign a reduced deal on a “take it or leave it” basis.

The former Tigers’ All-American quarterback and fourth place Heisman Trophy finisher as a senior in 1977 returned as head coach of Grambling State for a second time in February of 2011.

Williams had been the general manager of the Virginia Destroyers of the United Football League for only a few months before the GSU post became vacant and he quickly became the leading candidate for the job.

“Anybody who knows me knows how much I love Grambling,” he said. “I bleed the black and gold. This is where I learned about not only football, but life, from Coach (Eddie) Robinson. So whatever else happens along the way, it isn’t going to change how I think about the university and my responsibilities as the head football coach.

“I am still getting up early and heading to the office just like I always have. We’ve got spring practice going now and we haven’t missed a beat. The spring workouts have been going well, the players are working hard and we’re all looking forward to next year. The bottom line is that, regardless of what has happened, I’ve still got a job to do.”

In his first time as head coach, as the successor of the legendary Robinson in 1998, Williams sent the Tigers to consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference titles from 2000-2002.

Last year, things began slowly for Grambling with four losses in the first five games. But then the Tigers won their final seven games, including all-time SWAC title No. 18.

Williams was named as the Coach of the Year in the conference.

“It was about the players, not the coaches,” he said. “They did an absolute great job of remaining focused at what they needed to do. Even when we were 1-4, the attitude they had was great. So it’s not surprising at all that, with what has happened in the past week, they are totally focused on practice and getting ready for next year.”

Before the suit was announced late last week, Williams told his son, sophomore quarterback D.J. Williams, about what was going on and then let the entire team know.

“Hopefully, things will all get worked out in the future, but for now, my job is coach these young men and do the best job I can for the university,” he said.

One person certainly thrilled about Williams being back at Grambling is Jack Lengvel, the former head coach at Marshall University.

In the late 1990s, Lengvel was the athletics director at the Naval Academy and hired on Williams to be an assistant coach for the Midshipmen.

“Doug is a great guy and the perfect coach for Grambling State University,” he said during an appearance at a fundraising golf tournament hosted by Terry Bradshaw and country and western recording artist Kix Brooks at the Squire Creek Golf and Country Club earlier this week. “He was with us at Navy for three years and the kids loved him. He’s such a personable, quality guy and the place for him to make the greatest impact is at Grambling. He belongs there because of the contributions that he’s made to that school and to the influence he’s had on the young people there.”

The suit names Grambling, the UL System and GSU President Frank Pogue as defendants and requests damages equal to what Williams would have earned under his unapproved contract, plus punitive damages.

“We have offered him one of the highest salary and incentive compensation packages in Grambling’s conference,” said UL System President Randy Moffett said. “We believe that we did everything possible to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement without compromising the University’s academic core.”

Grambling State will kick off its 2012 season in Shreveport Sept. 1 against longtime SWAC rival Alcorn State before then facing new Southeastern Conference member TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 8. — (AP)