Grambling State head coach Broderick Fobbs was an assistant at McNeese last season, and could only watch as Grambling State became the epicenter of one of the biggest stories in the history of the NCAA.
It has been nearly a year since Grambling State football made national headlines when players decided to boycott a scheduled conference games against longtime rival Jackson State last October.
It was a shocking display of power exercised by athletes that raised questions about intercollegiate athletics, state government funding, the football program and the university overall.
Grievances raised among the disgruntled players at the time were firing of head coach Doug Williams, lengthy bus rides to games in Kansas City and Indianapolis and the poor conditions of athletic facilities.
There were photos of what appeared to be an eroding weight room and mold-stained football equipment.
It was ugly.
A day before the game, school administrators made last-ditch efforts to convince the players to board coach buses for the trip to Jackson.
It didn’t happen.
Grambling lost the game via forfeit. Jackson State, who was supposed to host homecoming that day, lost several hundred thousand dollars in revenue as a result and later filed a lawsuit against Grambling to recoup financial losses.
When the players did return to practice and eventually play in the aftermath of the boycott, the school received an outpouring of assistance and support from the likes of Nike, Toyota, Muscle Milk and donations from alums.
The schools meet Saturday with last season’s events that will be fresh in the minds of those in attendance even though both coaches downplayed what happened 11 months ago.
“We left 2013 in 2013,” Fobbs told HBCU Sports on Thursday. “It’s something we don’t talk about.”
The first-year head coach said he addressed the boycott once with the team shortly after he was hired and hasn’t brought it up since.
Jackson State head coach Harold Jackson, who was completely out of football a year ago, briefly mentioned last season’s fiasco.
“Well I kind of understood what (Grambling players) were going through,”Jackson said earlier this week during a media teleconference. “And I kind of felt for them. And if we were going through that same thing, if I was a player back there during that time, I’d probably do the same thing because there are some things you have to correct. And then in order to correct them, you’ve got to pull a trigger some kind of way and let folks know where you stand.”
Saturday’s game at Jackson State will be the conclusion of a four-game road stretch to start the season.
Fobbs says he doesn’t expect the environment in Jackson to be no more hostile than when he played for Grambling in the 1990s even with the backdrop of what transpired a year ago.
“It’s always been that way when Grambling and Jackson State play each other.”