Dennis Winston named interim coach

  • ESPN.com news services | October 18, 2013

Grambling State has relieved George Ragsdale of his duties as interim coach, university spokesman Will Sutton announced Thursday.

Defensive coordinator Dennis "Dirt" Winston was named interim coach, Sutton said. Ragsdale will be reassigned in the athletic department.

The turnover atop the program capped a tumultuous few days at the university.

According to the Shreveport Times, the players met with administrators Tuesday to voice concerns about traveling by bus instead of plane to games in Kansas City, Mo., and Indianapolis, poor facility conditions, and about the firing of coach Doug Williams in September.

For the 750-mile trip to Indianapolis, SI.com reported that the team left campus at 6 p.m. on Thursday night and arrived in Indianapolis at 9 a.m. on Friday. They then lost 48-0 to Alcorn State on Saturday.

"It does something to your body, being on the bus that long," safety Naquan Smith told SI.com. "We were kinda upset other team got a chance to fly there. It wasn't fair."

Sources told the newspaper that the meeting "became increasingly negative" and that the players walked out.

They then did not show up for practice Wednesday afternoon.

According to multiple reports, players appeared ready to boycott practice Thursday, too. A closed practice was scheduled for 6 p.m., but players left the facility at that time, and Winston said practice had ended, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The Tigers (0-7, 0-4 SWAC) are scheduled to play at Jackson State (5-2, 5-0) on Saturday. A Grambling spokesman told ESPN's Joe Schad that a team bus will leave at 3:30 p.m. ET Friday for the game.

The Shreveport Times reported that one of the conditions for the players to end their boycott was that Ragsdale, who started the season as the running backs coach, be relieved of his coaching duties.

"[The administration] knew that emotions were raw," Sutton said Wednesday, the day before Ragsdale was relieved of his duties, according to the Times. "No matter what, it was going to be a challenge for the team to feel good after this season and last season. That's part of the reason why we have a new [athletic director] and are looking for a new football coach.

"The president wanted to make a point that the university supports and appreciates the team and these students, and that the administration will do everything we need to do for the future success of the program."

Williams was fired after the Tigers lost their first two games by a combined score of 71-19. Grambling State went 1-10 last season.

Winston played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints after a college career at Arkansas.

During the 1990s, Winston served two stints at Grambling as an assistant to college Hall of Fame coach Eddie Robinson.

Athletic director Aaron James says Winston has the ability to "tone things down and get the program up and running smoothly."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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