Thursday, October 17, 2013

Grambling Players Angry With Adminstration, Boycott Practice Wed; Practice Canceled Thursday and Interim Coach Fired


Typical on the Gulf Coast, but when it rains, it pours. And around the Grambling football program, it probably feels like a monsoon right now.

In the midst of an 0-7 season, following a 1-10 season last year, and an early season coaching change,Grambling coaches and officials are now dealing with unhappy players who boycotted practice Wednesday and practice was canceled on Thursday.

On top of that, interim head coach George Ragland has been fired today by the school.

It all leaves folks in Jackson, Miss., wondering since the Tigers are supposed to be the Homecoming opponent for Southwestern Athletic Conference power Jackson State Saturday.

Jackson State spokesman Eric Stringfellow said Thursday evening that the game was still go.  SWAC officials said the 2 p.m. will proceed as scheduled.

But things are weird in Lousisiana.

It all stems from a Tuesday evening meeting between players and Grambling administrators, including school president Frank Pogue, athletic director Aaron James and Ragland.

Administrators sought to show their support for the winless team that went 1-10 last season.  But frustrations bubbled over when players complained about having to take bus trips from Grambling, La., to games in Kansas City, Mo., and Indianapolis, Ind., this season.  Their opponent in Indianapolis' Circle City Classic, Alcorn State of Mississippi, flew to that game. 

According to reports, the players also are still smarting over the September firing of former head coach Doug Williams.  USA Today, who quoted an unnamed source, reported the players are also unhappy about not receiving all the meals they are supposed to on road trips and of the poor state of facilities, such as their weight room.

 But the meeting turned negative and players walked out and didnt come to practice Wednesday.  Ragsdale's assistants weren't invited, according to USA Today, which also signaled a rift between Rasgdale and his assistants.

“It was basically a mutiny,” a source told the Shreveport Times. “(The team) rode the bus all that way (to Indianapolis), and then come back and are disrespected like that (in Tuesday’s meeting).
“(The team) is standing together because they don’t know if anybody else is standing with them.”

 “Things are rough, and we understand our players' frustration,” Grambling spokesman Will Sutton told The News Star Wednesday. “The president is frustrated, the A.D. is frustrated, the students are frustrated, the alumni are frustrated, so we fully understand our players' frustration.”
But things got worse Thursday afternoon.

The school reportedly fired Ragland and replaced him with defensive coordinator and former Pittsburgh Steeler great, Dennis "Dirt" Winston. 

Apparently, that's what the team wanted. 

“As a team, we feel like we wanted (Ragsdale) to actually step down,” safety Naquan Smith told the News Star newspaper Thursday. “(The team) is behind us because they know what we’ve been going through. They know the struggle. We said we’re behind each other 100 percent.”

The team met at 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon to decide if they would be in uniform Saturday.  And a closed evening practice was scheduled for tonight.

But the story remains fluid.  Stay tuned.

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