Grambling State University, rocked by the football team’s boycott of practice on Wednesday, named its second interim coach Thursday since firing school legend Doug Williams as head coach last month.
Dennis “Dirt” Winston, a former NFL linebacker, had been the Tigers defensive coordinator before being elevated to interim coach when George Ragsdale was suddenly reassigned to a position within the athletic department.
The team, 0-7 this season, had walked out of a meeting with school president Frank Pogue and other athletic officials on Tuesday and did not practice Wednesday. Last season, the Tigers were 1-10 and lost every game in the Southwestern Athletic Conference for the first time in the storied historically Black school’s history. The players had voiced their displeasure about Williams’ firing, their perceived lack of support, subpar facilities and having to ride buses to road games in Kansas City and Indianapolis.
The university has been struggling to cope with a major reduction to its overall operating budget as a result of a major decrease in funding from the state of Louisiana. Grambling does not charge a student athletics fee and alumni financial support has not been robust, resulting in the athletic department to drop the men’s tennis and golf programs.
“I’ve known Dirt a long time, and I can’t think of a better choice,” added Aaron James, the university’s athletic director. “He can tone things down and get the program up and running smoothly while empowering our football players to be successful.”
Winston coached at Grambling State from 1992-1994 and from 1995-1997. Among other coaching jobs, he was an assistant coach at Arkansas (1997-98), Norfolk State (1994-95) and Arkansas State (1989-91).