Eddie Robinson retires Famed football coach: Grambling University won't be the only place where he is missed.

November 18, 1997

NOT EVERYONE feels bad that Eddie Robinson has watched his Grambling State University football team play its last home game under his watchful eyes. He has seen his teams chalk up 408 victories, more than any other college football coach. Baltimoreans who follow hometown Morgan State University will never forgive Mr. Robinson for the 87-12 shellacking the Tigers from Louisiana put on the Bears in 1994. Still, there are many more fond memories of that storied gridiron rivalry that began in 1946 with a Morgan State victory.

Mr. Robinson has had his detractors, especially over the past three losing seasons. While breaking the previous record for victories set by Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, Mr. Robinson endured the same type of threats that baseball's Henry Aaron experienced when surpassing the career home run record set by Babe Ruth. Critics argued that Mr. Robinson shouldn't be considered in the same company as Bryant, Amos Alonzo Stagg or Pop Warner because Grambling didn't play major teams. But there's nothing minor league about any coach who can send 200 of his players to the National Football League, as Mr. Robinson has done.

Even non-Grambling fans should feel saddened by the way the legendary coach ended his home career. Tiger Stadium was nearly empty for the 37-35 loss Saturday to North Carolina A&T. That last slap in the face was commentary from Grambling followers who felt Mr. Robinson should have quit earlier. The Tigers are on NCAA probation for several minor rules infractions. So, after 57 seasons, Eddie Robinson, 78, will retire. He leaves behind a legacy that put Grambling, La., on the map. He helped practice the players who made football America's passion. For that, the coach deserves applause.

Pub Date: 11/18/97

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