Eddie Robinson (American football coach)

Last updated
Eddie Robinson
Eddie Robinson.jpg
Robinson c. 1980
Biographical details
Born(1919-02-13)February 13, 1919
Jackson, Louisiana
DiedApril 3, 2007(2007-04-03) (aged 88)
Ruston, Louisiana
Alma mater McKinley Senior High School

Leland College

University of Iowa
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Football
1941–1997 Grambling
Basketball
1943–1956 Grambling
Head coaching record
Overall408–165–15 (football)
Bowls9–6
Tournaments0–3 (NCAA D-I-AA playoffs)
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
Football
9 Black college national (1955, 1967, 1972, 1974–1975, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1992)
17 SWAC (1960, 1965–1968, 1971–1974, 1977–1980, 1983, 1985, 1989, 1994)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1997 (profile)

Eddie Gay Robinson Sr. (February 13, 1919 – April 3, 2007) was an American football coach. For 56 years, from 1941 to 1942 and again from 1945 to 1997, he was the head coach at Grambling State University, a historically black university (HBCU) in Grambling, Louisiana. Robinson is recognized by many college football experts as one of the greatest coaches in history. During a period in college football history when black players were not allowed to play for southern college programs, Robinson built Grambling State into a "small" college football powerhouse. He retired in 1997 with a record of 408–165–15. Robinson coached every single game from the field and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997. Robinson is arguably the most successful college football coach in FCS history and third most victories in college football history.

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

Grambling State University historically black university in Louisiana

Grambling State University (GSU) is a historically black public university in Grambling, Louisiana. The university is home of the Eddie G. Robinson Museum and is listed on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. The university is a member-school of the University of Louisiana System and Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community. This was because the overwhelming majority of predominantly white institutions of higher-learning disqualified African Americans from enrollment during segregation. From the time of slavery in the 19th century through to the second half of the 20th century, majority schools in the Southern United States prohibited all African Americans from attending, while historic schools in other parts of the country regularly employed quotas to limit admissions of blacks. There are 101 HBCUs in the United States, including public and private institutions. This figure is down from the 121 institutions that existed during the 1930s. Of these remaining HBCU institutions in the United States, 27 offer doctoral programs, 52 schools offer master's programs, 83 colleges offer bachelor's degree programs and 38 schools offer associate degrees.

Contents

Biography

Robinson was born in Jackson in East Feliciana Parish in South Louisiana, to the son of a sharecropper and a domestic worker. He graduated in 1937 from McKinley Senior High School in the capital city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and briefly attended Southern University there. He then played quarterback and earned his bachelor's degree in English at Leland College in Baker, Louisiana, [1] before obtaining his master's degree in 1954 from the University of Iowa in Iowa City—at which he was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Jackson, Louisiana Town in Louisiana, United States

Jackson is a town in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 3,842 at the 2010 census, down from 4,130 in 2000. It is part of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Sharecropping form of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on their portion of land

Sharecropping is a form of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on their portion of land. Sharecropping has a long history and there are a wide range of different situations and types of agreements that have used a form of the system. Some are governed by tradition, and others by law. Legal contract systems such as the Italian mezzadria, the French métayage, the Spanish mediero, the Slavic połowcy,издoльщина or the Islamic system of muqasat, occur widely.

Domestic worker person who works within the employers household

A domestic worker, domestic helper, domestic servant, manservant or menial, is a person who works within the employer's household. Domestic helpers perform a variety of household services for an individual or a family, from providing care for children and elderly dependents to housekeeping, including cleaning and household maintenance. Other responsibilities may include cooking, laundry and ironing, shopping for food and other household errands. Such work has always needed to be done but before the Industrial Revolution and the advent of labour saving devices, it was physically much harder.

Career

Robinson dreamed of becoming a college football coach, but he faced an enormous drawback—he was black in the days of Jim Crow discrimination. The only college position he could possibly hope to obtain would be at a traditionally all-black school, and these were all well staffed. Having earned his bachelor's degree at Leland, Robinson returned to Baton Rouge and took a job at a feed mill for 25 cents an hour. Not long after that, he heard that the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute—now Grambling State University—was searching for a new football coach. He applied for the job and was hired by the school's president and baseball coach, Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones.

Baseball Sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones American baseball player and coach

Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, Sr., also known as Ralph W. E. Jones or Prez Jones, was from 1936 until his retirement in 1977 the second president of historically black Grambling State University in Grambling in Lincoln Parish in north Louisiana.

In 1941 the 22-year old Robinson assumed his duties as head football coach at Grambling State. The days of assistant coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators, and specialty coaches were long in the future, so Robinson did everything: he taught offense and defense, mowed the football field, fixed sandwiches for road trips through towns that would not serve blacks in restaurants, taped his players' sore joints, and even wrote game stories for the newspapers. He had strict standards of personal conduct and educational achievement for his players. In his first year the team went 3–5–1, but the following season—during which he recruited new players and dismissed those who did not live up to his expectations—the Tigers had a perfect 9–0 season, going unbeaten, untied, and unscored upon.

More than 200 of his players went on to play in the American Football League, CFL, and NFL. Robinson coached three American Football League players who would later be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame: the Kansas City Chiefs' Buck Buchanan; the Oakland Raiders' Willie Brown; and the Houston Oilers' Charlie Joiner. Robinson also coached James Harris, who with the AFL's Buffalo Bills became the first black quarterback in modern Pro Football history to start at that position in a season opener. He also coached Packers defensive end and Hall of Famer Willie Davis and the Super Bowl XXII MVP, Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, who would ultimately succeed Robinson as Grambling's head coach in 1998.

American Football League Professional football league that merged with National Football League in 1970

The American Football League (AFL) was a major professional American football league that operated for ten seasons from 1960 until 1969, when it merged with the older National Football League (NFL). The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence. It was more successful than earlier rivals to the NFL with the same name, the 1926, 1936 and 1940 leagues, and the later All-America Football Conference.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Professional sports hall of fame in Canton, Ohio

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame for professional American football, located in Canton, Ohio. Opened in 1963, the Hall of Fame enshrines exceptional figures in the sport of professional football, including players, coaches, franchise owners, and front-office personnel, almost all of whom made their primary contributions to the game in the National Football League (NFL); the Hall inducts between four and eight new enshrinees each year. The Hall of Fame's Mission is to "Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE."

Kansas City Chiefs National Football League franchise in Kansas City, Missouri

The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football team based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) West division. The team was founded in 1960 as the Dallas Texans by businessman Lamar Hunt and was a charter member of the American Football League (AFL). In 1963, the team relocated to Kansas City and assumed their current name. The Chiefs joined the NFL as a result of the merger in 1970. The team is valued at over $2 billion. Hunt's son, Clark, serves as chairman and CEO. While Hunt's ownership stakes passed collectively to his widow and children after his death in 2006, Clark represents the Chiefs at all league meetings and has ultimate authority on personnel changes.

During his coaching career, Robinson compiled 45 winning seasons, including winning or sharing 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference championships and nine black college football national championships. [2]

Southwestern Athletic Conference

The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is a collegiate athletic conference headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, which is made up of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Southern United States. It participates in the NCAA's Division I for all sports; in football, it participates in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly referred to as Division I-AA.

The black college football national championship is a national championship won by the best football team(s) among Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States.

Enormous publicity attended Robinson's record-breaking win with Grambling State in 1985. Some observers feared that the coach would become the target of white hatred, much as Henry Aaron had when he broke Babe Ruth's home run record. Instead Robinson reported that he did not receive a single hate letter, even from the legion of southern fans who worshiped Bear Bryant. When asked if his record was somehow tarnished by the fact that his team played most of its games against Division I-AA caliber competition, Robinson told Sports Illustrated: "I grew up in the South. I was told where to attend elementary school, where to attend junior high school, where to attend high school. When I became a coach, I was told who I could recruit, who I could play, where I could play and when I could play. I did what I could within the system." He added that his philosophy had always been "whatever league you're in, whatever level, win there."

Eddie Robinson held several jobs other than football coach, including teaching at Grambling High School, and coaching the girls basketball team during World War II. His girls team lost the state championship by 1 point. He also coached boys basketball, baseball, directed the band, and was in charge of the cheerleaders—with a budget of $46.

Basketball team sport played on a court with baskets on either end

Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball through the defender's hoop while preventing the opposing team from shooting through their own hoop. A field goal is worth two points, unless made from behind the three-point line, when it is worth three. After a foul, timed play stops and the player fouled or designated to shoot a technical foul is given one or more one-point free throws. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but if regulation play expires with the score tied, an additional period of play (overtime) is mandated.

Robinson recorded just one losing season between 1960 and 1990; however, after three consecutive losing seasons in the mid-1990s, pressure mounted for the now 78-year old coach to resign. Fellow college coach Joe Paterno is quoted in the Grambling State press guide as saying, "Nobody has ever done or ever will do what Eddie Robinson has done for the game... Our profession will never, ever be able to repay Eddie Robinson for what he has done for the country and the profession of football."

In 1997 news escaped that Grambling was planning to dismiss him in mid-season. Public outcry—including condemnation from Louisiana elected officials like then-Gov. Mike Foster [3] —led Grambling to retain Robinson's services through the remainder of the season.

Robinson developed Alzheimer's disease after his retirement. [4] He died on April 3, 2007, at Lincoln General Hospital in Ruston, Louisiana, after having been admitted earlier in the day. [5]

Robinson and his wife, Doris, who died at the age of ninety-six in September 2015, [6] had two children; Eddie, Jr. and Lillian Rose Robinson.

Awards and honors

In 1979 the Black College All Star Bowl committee named its award for outstanding NFL rookies from HBCUs the "Eddie G. Robinson Trophy;" its inaugural winner was Doug Williams. [7] Grambling named its football facility, built in 1983, Eddie Robinson Stadium. A street on GSU's campus is also named for him. [8] In 1985 South 13th Street in Baton Rouge was renamed for him. [9] The Los Angeles Football Classic Foundation's HBCU national title award was called the "Eddie Robinson Trophy" in 1988. [10] Beginning in 1994, a different Eddie Robinson Trophy was awarded in Atlanta to the top HBCU player of the year. [11] In 1997 the Football Writers Association of America's Eddie Robinson Award was renamed for him. [9] The Eddie Robinson Classic (held from 1997–2002) was named for him. The American Urban Radio Networks has sponsored an award for HBCU coaches called the "SBN Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year;" it was won by Grambling's own Broderick Fobbs in 2014. [12] The Eddie G. Robinson Classic series of high school football games, begun in 2015, was also named after him. [13]

Robinson received the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) in 1982 and the Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award from the United States Sports Academy in 1985. Robinson was the 1992 winner of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award, which was established to honor the NCAA Division I football coach whose team excels on the field, in the classroom, and in the community; the award is named for Bobby Dodd, longtime head football coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and was established in 1976 to honor the values that Dodd exemplified. [14] Robinson was awarded the General Robert R. Neyland trophy by the Knoxville Quarterback club in 1999. [15]

Super Bowl XXXII, played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, was dedicated to Robinson. He was accompanied onto the field by Williams and Joe Gibbs to perform the ceremonial coin toss.

Eddie G. Robinson Museum on the campus of Grambling State University Eddie G. Robinson Museum IMG 3650.JPG
Eddie G. Robinson Museum on the campus of Grambling State University

Museum

In 2010, the Eddie G. Robinson Museum opened on GSU's campus. [16] The museum chronicles and celebrates the major accomplishments of the G-Men football program and former head coach Eddie Robinson. [17] The museum is 18,000 square feet and cost approximately $3.3 million to complete. [18]

In media

In the 1981 TV movie Grambling's White Tiger set in late 1960s, about the true story of Jim Gregory, the first white quarterback at Grambling, Robinson is played by Harry Belafonte.

Head coaching record

Football

Today's Grambling State University was Grambling College from 1946 through 1973.
It was Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute (commonly Louisiana Normal) from 1928 through 1945.

YearTeamOverallConferenceStandingBowl/playoffsNCAA#TSN°
Louisiana Normal Tigers (Independent)(1941–1945)
1941 Louisiana Normal1–5–1
1942 Louisiana Normal9–0
1943 No team—World War II
1944 No team—World War II
1945 Louisiana Normal10–2W Flower [19]
Grambling Tigers (Independent)(1946–1951)
1946 Grambling6–6
1947 Grambling10–2L Vulcan
1948 Grambling8–2
1949 Grambling7–3–2
1950 Grambling6–4–1
1951 Grambling3–5–1
Grambling Tigers (Midwestern Athletic Conference)(1952–1957)
1952 Grambling7–3–1
1953 Grambling8–2
1955 Grambling4–3–2
1955 Grambling10–0W Orange Blossom Classic
1956 Grambling8–1
1957 Grambling4–4
Grambling Tigers (Southwestern Athletic Conference)(1958–1973)
1958 Grambling6–31–36th
1959 Grambling4–62–5T–5th
1960 Grambling9–16–1T–1st
1961 Grambling8–25–2T–2nd
1962 Grambling6–2–23–3–23rd
1963 Grambling5–3–13–3–1T–4th
1964 Grambling9–26–12ndL Orange Blossom Classic
1965 Grambling8–36–11stL Pecan
1966 Grambling6–2–14–2–1T–1st
1967 Grambling9–16–11stW Orange Blossom Classic
1968 Grambling9–26–11stW Pasadena
1969 Grambling6–45–23rdL Orange Blossom Classic
1970 Grambling9–25–12nd
1971 Grambling9–25–11st
1972 Grambling11–25–1T–1stW Pelican
1973 Grambling10–35–1T–1stW Boardwalk (Division II first round)
L Grantland Rice (Division II semifinal)
Grambling State Tigers (Southwestern Athletic Conference)(1974–1997)
1974 Grambling State11–15–1T–1stW Pelican
1975 Grambling State10–24–2T–1st
1976 Grambling State8–44–2T–2nd
1977 Grambling State 10–16–01stW Mirage
1978 Grambling State9–1–15–0–11stL Orange Blossom Classic
1979 Grambling State8–35–1T–1st1
1980 Grambling State10–25–1T–1stL NCAA Division I-AA Semifinal 2
1981 Grambling State6–4–14–1–12nd
1982 Grambling State8–35–12nd10
1983 Grambling State8–1–26–0–11st10
1984 Grambling State7–45–23rd
1985 Grambling State9–36–11stL NCAA Division I-AA First Round 8
1986 Grambling State7–44–3T–3rd
1987 Grambling State 5–63–4T–5th
1988 Grambling State8–35–22nd18
1989 Grambling State9–37–01stL NCAA Division I-AA First Round 19
1990 Grambling State8–33–3T–3rd
1991 Grambling State5–63–4T–6th
1992 Grambling State10–26–12ndW Heritage
1993 Grambling State7–44–33rd
1994 Grambling State 9–36–1T–1stW Heritage 7
1995 Grambling State5–64–34th
1996 Grambling State3–82–5T–6th
1997 Grambling State 3–82–6T–7th
La. Normal / Grambling / Grambling St.:408–165–15 [20]
Total:408–165–15
      National championship        Conference title        Conference division title or championship game berth

See also

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References

  1. Joe Planas (October 7, 1985). "Robinson moves out front to bask in splendid glory". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate (sec. D, p. 1).
  2. EDDIE ROBINSON: 1919-2007 - Robinson's Record Archived 2007-06-14 at the Wayback Machine . The Advocate . April 5, 2007
  3. "Farewell loss can't tarnish Robinson's winning legacy". southcoasttoday.com. November 30, 1997. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  4. Foster, Mary (August 2, 2004). "Ex-Grambling Coach Endures Alzheimer's". Associated Press. Archived from the original on August 3, 2004. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  5. Foster, Mary (April 4, 2007). "Legendary Grambling coach Robinson dies". Associated Press. Archived from the original on April 4, 2007. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  6. http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/story/wife-of-legendary-grambling-coach-eddie-robinson-dies-at-96-091615
  7. "Black College Bowl Honors NFL Rookie Doug Williams". Jet (vol. 55, no. 16, p. 52). January 4, 1979.
  8. "Eddie G. Robinson". encyclopedia.com. 2007. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  9. 1 2 "Accomplishments". robinsonmuseum.com. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  10. "Central State Marauders, 'Tank' Younger Feted In L.A." Jet (p. 49). May 22, 1989.
  11. "Eddie Robinson Trophy to be awarded". Deseret News (sec. D, p. 2). September 21, 1994.
  12. "Fobbs Named the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year". gsutigers.com. January 22, 2015. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  13. "Introducing the Inaugural Eddie G. Robinson Classic". egrobinsonclassic.com. 2015. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  14. "Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation—Past Winners". Bobby Dodd Foundation. Archived from the original on December 9, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  15. "General Robert R Neyland Trophy". knoxqbclub.com. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  16. Samuel G. Freedman (February 12, 2010). "Louisiana Museum Confronts Segregation". nytimes.com. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  17. http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/life/discover/2017/06/25/gateway-american-folklore/357734001/
  18. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/13/us/13grambling.html
  19. AP (January 2, 1946). "Louisiana Normal Is Flower Bowl Victor" . Lubbock Morning Avalanche. Lubbock, Texas . Retrieved February 18, 2017 via newspapers.com.
  20. http://www.robinsonmuseum.com/pages/bio.php