The Division I football wins leader is shunted aside by media bias in favor of Bobby Bowden, after the NCAA vacated 111 wins from Penn State
By ALVIN HOLLINS JR
JULY 23 – Grambling’s Hall of Fame legend football coach, the late Eddie Robinson became the all-time leader in career victories among NCAA Division I coaches Monday, after the NCAA announced a bevy of sanctions against Penn State University in the wake of the child abuse scandal that rocked the nation and college football.
All told, 111 wins from 1998 to 2011 were stripped from the record of Penn State’s late coach, Joe Paterno, dropping him from 409 wins to 298 victories, as part of the sweeping sanctions that could render the Nittany Lions an afterthought in college football for perhaps the next decade.
But the vacation of wins, pushed Robinson back to the top of the overall Division I charts with the 408 wins he compiled during a magical half century run at Grambling State University in North Louisiana, from 1941 to 1997.
Remember that with the NCAA, Division I football is comprised of two subdivisions: the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) or I-A, and the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) or I-AA.
And since the association compiles three sets of records: overall collegiate records (all divisions, I, II, III); Division I records; FBS and FCS records, confusion can sometime reign, especially when the media chooses to split hairs.
Which was the case on Monday, as the mainstream media had already placed the mantle of winningest coach on the shoulders of former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who finished his career with 377 wins, which places him behind Robinson in Division I overall, but #1 in I-A (FBS).
This media cold shoulder is understandable since their legendary bias towards the major colleges and the power conferences has always given short shrift to the accomplishments of coaches, players and teams from FCS and below.
Besides, the all-time career wins leader IN ALL OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL is 85-year old John Gagliardi, head coach at Division III St. John’s University of Minnesota (1952-present), who has won 484 games in a 63-year coaching career, and even that monumental feat is often limited to a footnote by the media.
In the end however, the savage and heartless abuse of dozens of children is at the heart of the matter here, and debating or celebrating wins is probably the least appropriate thing that should be done.
Helping improve the lives of young men was the focus of the life and work of the late, great Eddie Robinson, so it might be fair to say that he too might be loath to celebrate wins over the countless lives, forever changed by a predator, who himself was once a coach.
Still, no matter what NCAA list one refers to for coaching victories, there will always be one list that will have Eddie Robinson at the head of the class, the career wins list for Black College Football.
Coach Robinson’s 408 wins far surpasses anyone active or inactive in the HBCU ranks, but FAMU’s Joe Taylor (230) will be making a bid for the #2 spot on that list this season, needing just six wins to pass Hall of Fame legends Arnett “Ace” Mumford (233) and “Big John” Merritt (235), to move behind Robinson.