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Jackson State made the mistake that many did before them.
And then did it again!

by Lut Williams

You know that Waylon Jennings song ‘Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Cowboys.’ (I know you don’t know it, but like me, you’ve heard it on that GEICO commercial).

Well, I’ve got a twist on it.

‘Fans, don’t let your alma mater’s football heroes become your head football coaches.’ In addition to fans, the hook could also be directed to Athletics Directors, Presidents and Search Committees too.

The ending is oft times just too ugly to take.

jsu harold jackson action

Of the many cases in point, Tuesday’s firing of Jackson State legend Harold Jackson from his perch as head man of the Blue Tigers, not even two years into his tenure, is only the latest version.

Jackson, 69, can add his name to a legion of former stars fired by their alma maters, many if not most times, unceremoniously. He joins the ranks of Willie Totten at Mississippi Valley State, George Small at North Carolina A&T, Doug Williams at Grambling, Alvin Wyatt at Bethune-Cookman, Donovan Rose at Hampton, Earl Holmes at Florida A&M and Reggie Barlow at Alabama State. Get my drift. Each has a similar story. And they are only the most recent examples.

Jackson, an outstanding wide receiver at JSU and in the NFL, is rated just below the list of alums that went on to NFL stardom and to the Pro Football Hall of Fame – namely, Walter Payton, Lem Barney and Jackie Slater. In JSU lore, Jackson is right there with the Robert Brazilles, Rich Casters, Jerome Barkums and Jimmy Smiths among others – great players that helped make the Jackson State brand known as one of the best in all of college football and a known commodity in NFL circles.

In fact, Jackson, a five-time Pro Bowler with 579 receptions, 10,372 yards (17.9 yards per catch) and 76 touchdowns in a 16-year NFL career – better numbers than Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and a host of others in the Hall – belongs in there himself.

But it doesn’t matter. When it comes to winning and upholding the gridiron tradition of the great institution, yo’ past don’t mean a thing. It’s all about what are you doing and what can you do for us NOW?harold jackson glory days

And what Jackson was not doing was winning often enough to satisfy the rabid JSU faithful. And there’s hardly any fan base more rabid, more loyal or more impatient than the JSU alums. I know, I was married to one.

Jackson was getting close, but that was hardly enough. He started 2-0 last year but finished 5-7. And he did a couple of unforgivables. He lost at home to Grambling 40-35 a year after the G-Men went 1-11 and went through a player rebellion fiasco that resulted in the firing of Williams and required the G-Men to forfeit their game to JSU because the team didn’t show up for a homecoming date. The league-mandated punishment required Grambling to play at JSU for three straight years.

And he lost seven of eight games including a loss to Mississippi Valley State, the first loss to the Delta Devils in two decades – at homecoming no less! That loss started a move by the JSU faithful to oust both Jackson and Athletics Director Vivian Fuller.

Winning his final two games last year over Texas Southern and eventual leaguechampion Alcorn State left fans with some optimism that 2015 would signal a return to glory. But it wasn’t to be.

Jackson and JSU were 1-4 this year (1-2 in the SWAC) including a 59-27 thrashing at home Saturday by Grambling that saw Jackson’s charges outscored 31-7 in the second half. They also gave up 50 points in a loss at Southern. While Grambling has returned to glory, finishing 7-5 a year ago and off to a 3-2 overall and 3-0 record in the SWAC to start this season, fans saw JSU wallowing in disgrace.

There was no waiting for the Oct. 17 homecoming vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, a la Florida A&M who let Holmes go during homecoming week last year. This had some of the markings of the Williams firing at Grambling in 2013 two games into the season. Jackson had to go. NOW! Almost smack dab in the middle of the season.

Talk about unceremonious!

Like Barlow, Holmes, Williams and Wyatt before him, we’ll have to wait and see if he decides to sue. The others did. Reportedly, JSU has a buyout clause that will prevent that.

And what did JSU do? They hired assistant Derrick McCall, a former JSU quarterback, as the interim head coach.

Uh-oh!

P. S. Note to Howard’s Gary Harrell. Watch your back!

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