GRAMBLING, LA (KSLA) - Grambling State University interim football coach George Ragsdale has been replaced with a new interim head coach, and players are reportedly planning to return to practice after 2 days of not showing up.
It's the latest development in what appears to be a deepening crisis within the GSU football program. According to a statement released by the university late Thursday afternoon, "Grambling State University defensive coach Dennis "Dirt" Winston has been named interim head coach of the G-Men, effective today."
Winston came to GSU in 2012 from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, where he was the school's defensive line coach since 2010. According to the statement, Winston "immediately implemented a closed practice so he and his coaches could work with the football team after a frustrating two days filled with concerns and emotions."
The entire team was a no-show for practice Wednesday, after a meeting with members of the university administration on Tuesday night that reportedly upset the majority of the team.
Interim head coach and running back coach George Ragsdale reportedly sat in the bleachers on his phone calling players and asking if they were coming to practice. KNOE 8 News in Monroe reported that the team had been "on strike."
Ragsdale did not get into full detail about what was said in the meeting but said the players were not happy. "I really wasn't in favor of the meeting but the meeting happened and it was hard," said Ragsdale, who has now been "reassigned in the athletic department."
"I don't know if it was specific about the 0-7 season or if it was that we understand that it's difficult to have a losing season," said Grambling spokesperson Will Sutton. "No one likes to have a losing season, least of which is the men that we have on the field."
But on Thursday afternoon, Sutton elaborated that some of the player's complaints included long bus rides to recent games in Kansas City and Indianapolis, the weight room needing a new floor, meals and their desire to have their old head coach Doug Williams reinstated.
The Hall of Fame head coach was fired mid-season. A search committee made up of administration officials, staff, alumni and students met earlier in the week. At that meeting, Sutton says Grambling State University President Frank Pogue laid out for the committee what he and Athletic Director Aaron James want in a new head coach: a strong leader, a strong manager and a team player, among other things.
Sutton says there is no firm timeline on the selection of a new head coach. Candidates rounded up in the "confidential" search will be presented to Pogue for consideration and interviews, and then recommendations will be made. Sutton says they hope to have the new coach on board before the next recruiting season.
The Tigers, who are 0-7, 0-4 in the SWAC, are scheduled to play at SWAC East leader Jackson State on Saturday in a SWAC East contest. Grambling has lost 11 straight games and 17 straight against NCAA opponents.