Trio of ex-Grambling coaches in Southern search? Actually, it makes sense

Three one-time coaches at Grambling have interviewed for the open top job at rival Southern, a process that has now moved into the evaluation phase.

Ex-GSU head coaches Doug Williams (1998-2003) and Melvin Spears (2004-2006) join longtime Williams assistant Heishma Northern in a group of sit downs that also included former Jackson State coach Darrell Asberry (now coaching ex-Grambling quarterback Brandon Landers at Shaw University).

As odd as that sounds to loyalists, there’s a commonality: All three former Grambling coaches are Baton Rouge-area natives.

“Southern has always had a good following,” Zachary-born Williams told me, “and it’s not an hour and a half from my house.”

Northern, now a respected defensive coordinator at Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Prairie View, was a running backs coach for Williams at Morehouse College in 1997 and then served as an assistant — primarily overseeing cornerbacks — with Williams at Grambling through 2003.

During that same span, Spears served as offensive coordinator for Williams, as Grambling won a trio of conference crowns in 2000-02.

“Just like with Doug, it’s a chance to come back home,” said Spears, a Clinton native who then led Grambling to an undefeated league championship as head coach in 2005. “That makes it real attractive.”

Spears, let go this offseason after a successful stint as assistant at Texas Southern, has also applied for open positions at Mississippi Valley State and Tennessee State — the last of which has since been filled.

A Glen Oaks High product, Northern played safety on departed Jaguars coach Pete Richardson’s first Southern team in 1993. That defense, overseen by current Grambling coordinator Clifford Yoshida, helped the Jaguars claim the first of five SWAC championships in Richardson’s 17 seasons.

School administrators are expected to recommend a replacement for Richardson to Chancellor Kofi Lomotey and Achilles Williams, chairman of the athletic committee, by the end of the week.

Williams — who earlier downplayed a weekend interview with Tony Clayton, chairman of SU’s board of supervisors — hinted that Northern, architect at Prairie View of one of the SWAC’s most impressive defenses over the past few years, could be Southern’s top candidate. Also interviewed for the position: Capitol High Academy coach Chadwick Germany, Washington Redskins assistant Stump Mitchell and Southern offensive line coach Damon Nivens.



  1. The SWA at Southern is Pam Smith who is from Ville Platte and the AD is from Ville Platte. If you know the connection Spears was going to get an interview anyway

  2. The SWA at Southern is Pam Smith who is from Ville Platte and the AD is from Ville Platte. If you know the connection Spears was going to get an interview anyway

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