Freshman quarterback D.J. Williams will make his first start for Grambling under the auspices of his father and head coach Doug Williams, but the family ties go deeper than that. Alcorn State head coach Melvin Spears is Doug Williams’ first cousin and former offensive coordinator, and that’s been the focus of much pregame talk over the summer, with Doug Williams taking over for his second stint as head coach at Grambling while Spears is in his first year as head coach at Alcorn State, his alma mater.
While the family hype is out there, Doug Williams said that’s not what this game will be all about.
“Look, this is not Doug vs. Melvin,” Doug Williams said. “This is the Grambling Tigers against Alcorn State — a great natural rivalry. We’re both trying to get to Birmingham (Ala., the site of the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game) and it starts with Grambling and Alcorn facing off in Shreveport. That’s really what this game is all about.”
But while Doug Williams downplayed the family rivalry with Spears, there’s no question Alcorn State’s football team has a bit of a GSU flavor to it.”
Alcorn State Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Michael Roach was defensive coordinator for Grambling during DougWilliams first stint heading up the Tigers. ASU Quarterbacks Coach Bruce Eugene was a standout quarterback who played for both Doug Williams, and then Spears, who replaced Doug Williams as head coach at GSU.
Marshall Hayes, the offensive line co ach for the Braves, served the same role at GSU during Doug Williams first coaching stint. Braves Wide Receivers Coach Tramon Douglas was a standout receiver for GSU under Doug Williams and Spears’ guidance and Alcorn State Running Backs/Recruiting Coach Darius Mathews is a 1995 Grambling State graduate who won a SWAC and National Black College Championship under the guidance of late Hall of Fame football coach Eddie Robinson and Spears son’, Kulmoris Joiner, serves as Director of Athletic Operations for Alcorn State.
“It is kind of going to be Grambling vs, Grambling-Mississippi with all of that GSU blood over there,” Doug Williams said of the Port City Classic. “It’s the natural rivalry between the two teams that’s going to make it a great one. But there are obviously a lot of ties between the two programs.
“I talk to Melvin a lot. We just talked Saturday. But we really didn’t talk football. We talked about how we need a good crowd and need to extend this (Port City Classic) in Shreveport. We want to pack 40,000 or more in there and show the city of Shreveport that Grambling and Alcorn are the perfect match for the Port City Classic.”