Thursday, September 29, 2011
Football preview: Grambling State vs. Prairie View A&M at Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Saturday
This State Fair Classic finds both teams struggling thus far in the season.
Doug Williams, former Grambling State University quarterback and Grambling’s head football coach from 1998-2003, just had to come back as head football coach to where he considers home.
“What made me come back?” Williams told a press conference audience on Monday. “It’s just one word: Grambling.”
Williams, along with Prairie View A&M University Panthers head coach Heishma Northern, on Monday were part of the Kickoff Press Conference for the State Fair Classic, one of Black College Football’s most prestigious annual games. The two teams square off Saturday, October 1 at 6 p.m. at the Cotton Bowl at Fair Park.
The game regularly attracts between 50,000 and 60,000 fans. Traditionally held on the opening weekend of the State Fair of Texas, officials determined that the event brings in close to $10 million of economic infusion into North Texas each year.
As for Williams, he also can be described in just one word: legend. His past Grambling days are sandwiched around a prolific football career. As one of the very few trailblazing Black quarterbacks in the NFL in his time, he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NFC championship game in 1980 (losing to the Los Angeles Rams 9-0).
His most glorious moment was as the quarterback for the Washington Redskins in the 1987-88 season, finishing off with four touchdown passes in the second quarter alone, part of the Redskins scoring 35 total points in that quarter, en route to a 42-7 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. Williams was voted Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.
Williams since has also performed at pro football’s administrative level, returning to the Buccaneers as director of professional scouting before moving over to the United Football League. He left his position as general manager of the United Football League’s Virginia Destroyers to return to Grambling.
During his last stint as head coach, Williams led Grambling to three SWAC championships and a total 53-17 record. A strong lure for Williams to come back to Grambling is the fact that his son, D.J. Williams, began his freshman year as a quarterback for the Tigers. Williams, however sees the added value and responsibility of being a head coach in black college athletics.
“It ain’t just about coaching, it’s about mentoring young men, making sure that they’re ready for real life when they leave Grambling,” Williams said.
However, this State Fair Classic finds both teams struggling thus far in the season. Prairie View (2-2) lost their season opener to Bethune-Cookman 63-14, defeated Texas Southern 37-34, lost to Arkansas-Pine Bluff 36-29 and beat Mississippi Valley 43-34.
Grambling State (1-3) won their season opener over Alcorn State 21-14 in the Port City Classic in Shreveport, but since has lost three in a row to Louisiana-Monroe 35-7, Alabama State 31-17 and Alabama A&M 20-14.
In 2009, Prairie View A&M pulled off a exciting 35-32 win, defeating the Tigers for the first time in 23 years. Grambling came back last year to defeat the Panthers 34-17.
As has been the case for the Classic, many times the real battle has taken place at halftime, between Grambling State’s Tiger Marching Band and Prairie View’s Marching Storm Band, always contributing to the great pageantry of the game. Prairie View’s band is backed by alluring Black Foxes Majorette Dance Team.
- Cotton Bowl
3750 Midway Plaza
- Age limit: All ages $26
A week full of activities precedes the Classic game. A VIP corporate reception, held by Southwest Airlines, the State Fair Classic’s signature sponsor, will be held Thursday, September 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Frontiers of Flight Museum.
Friday, September 30 brings Prairie View’s 17th Annual Athletic Scholarship at the Marriott City Center Hotel; Bishop Arts Theater Center’s Jazz Series, featuring Jeff Lorber and Warren Hill; and Kem, Chrisette Michele, and El Debarge in concert at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie.
On Saturday morning, the Grambling State University Alumni’s High School Battle of the Bands begins bright and early at the Beverly D. Humphry Tiger Stadium in Lancaster. The winner of the competition later performs at the State Fair Classic.
Miguel is the lead performer for the Classic’s Pre-Game Concert at the State Fair of Texas’ Chevy State. For more information on all Classic Week events, visit www.alwe.com.
Pegasus News Content partner - Dallas Weekly
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