Robinson, Eddie

Robinson, Eddie (1919- ), African American college football coach, who has won more games than any other football coach in history.

Although less famous than football coaches at more prominent universities, no one has coached teams to more wins than Robinson. Over his 56-year career at the helm of the Grambling State University football team, Coach Rob, as he was known, became the first coach to claim 400 victories, college or professional.

Born Edward Gay Robinson in Jackson, Louisiana, Robinson became a standout college athlete as the quarterback for Leland College in Baker, Louisiana. He served as an assistant coach during his final two years there and in 1941, a year after he graduated from Leland, Robinson became the head coach at Grambling (then called the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute), a historically black college in Grambling, Louisiana.

Budgetary constraints forced Robinson into more roles than just coach. "Come the day of the game," Robinson told the New York Times in 1985, "I marked the field, taped the kids, and drilled the drill squad at halftime. And after the game, Iíd write the story." His teams achieved an amazing amount of success. Robinsonís first year yielded a 3-5 win-loss record, but the following year, his team was undefeated, for a perfect 9-0 season. In his career, Robinson compiled a record of 408 wins, 165 losses, and 15 ties, including two additional undefeated seasons. Under Robinson, Grambling captured 8 National Black College Championships and won or shared in 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference championships.

Robinson saw more than 200 of his former players reach the National Football League (see Professional Football), including Pro Football Hall-of-Famers Willie Davis, Willie Brown, and Buck Buchanan, and standouts Everson Walls and Doug Williams. Beginning in the early 1970s, widespread recruitment of African American athletes by wealthier universities resulted in fewer of the top-quality African American athletes attending historically black colleges such as Grambling. Still, even with this talent drain, Robinson had only two losing seasons after 1970. Robinson retired in 1997 and was succeeded by Doug Williams.


Contributed By:
Robert Fay