On Spady, Grambling’s offense, and a rocky relationship with Rod

Rod Broadway took a chance on James Spady, elevating a position coach who’d worked with him for just one season at North Carolina Central to offensive coordinator at Grambling — and the relationship was strained, it seemed, from the first.

Broadway didn’t like that Spady, a colorful conversationalist, would sometimes draw more attention from the media. More particularly, they battled over the offense, with Broadway changing calls after they’d been relayed down from the pressbox, and openly questioning situational decisions with others.

The conflict within their offensive mindset was most interesting. Often, you had Broadway, a man who works hard it seems to say as little as possible in front of reporters, and Spady at opposite ends of their public personas: Spady had a surprisingly conservative mindset (considering his own outsized personality) on the field, preferring to batter opponents with a running game to set up the pass. It was Broadway, over three seasons in Grambling, who has taken credit for calling the memorable, though rare, trick play. From his postgame comments, it seemed Broadway often switched to more downfield calls at key times, too.

As Spady tried to grow into his new role, he sometimes looked like a man under seige from within. Broadway wondered aloud why Spady was quoted in stories, and what he meant. Broadway clearly wanted to run a top-down organization, and that’s his right. So, Spady became more reclusive, stopped taking reporters’ calls.

All of this, in what should have been this duo’s salad days. After all, Grambling claimed two consecutive divisional titles and then the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship in 2007-08. Complaints (from within and without) notwithstanding, its offense was among the league’s most productive. And GSU hasn’t lost a home game since Broadway and Spady arrived.

Yet, a now-silenced Spady become increasingly concerned with perception. He started making his case with anyone who stopped by. Spady believed in his playcalling, he’d say, believed in his players. A surprised fan wondered why Spady felt the need to make his case so forcefully. My response: He was looking for a port in the storm.

The truth is, I think Spady did a fine job with a difficult quarterback situation in 2008, managing the offense as two players with far different skills sets battled for a starting position — and then making the most of the unique athleticism of Greg Dillon when he secured that role.

Others will point out however that, on either side of that campaign, Grambling’s Spady-led offenses sputtered just as often, and with established starters in Brandon Landers (2007) and in Dillon, who was a junior by 2009. I’m not certain how much of that wasn’t due to a series of basic disagreements with Broadway, in ways that move across the spectrum.

There needs to be one voice in the huddle, and Grambling hasn’t had that.

As the relationship appeared to turn for good, Spady began looking for other work. You could hardly blame him — though, in truth, I’m not ready to place blame on either coach.

I think they both had the best intentions, but it just didn’t work out. That happens when you assemble a staff. Relationships grow and change through differing responsibilities, successes and difficult times.

I’ll miss mixing it up with Spady, an incisive and sharply funny debater of all things football, but ultimately I think this move is best for everyone involved — Spady, Broadway and, in the end, for Grambling.

ONE MORE THING
Some have already suggested that Bob Leahy was brought in to smooth this transition, and that may well be true. But I never got the impression Leahy wanted to be a coordinator, and I don’t think that’s why he came to Grambling. He’s always seemed like a guy who preferred instead to focus on recruiting and on position coaching.

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39 comments

  1. Very candid commentary… interesting reading but hopefully all parties can move on and be successful, especially Grambling's program.

  2. Broadway, was the HC and I don't blame him for what happen. Spady was seen on the sideline cussing at Broadway, disrepsect get you fired in/at most places I worked. I just hope we move on from what I saw in Orlando and Dallas last year Spady's attitude loss both of those games in my honest opinion. Plus the Offense always started slow, and seem unprepared even after time outs to straighten things out, in the huddles with nobody but Spady, the team would still be confused. Broadway would be nowhere near that timeout huddle.

  3. Very candid commentary… interesting reading but hopefully all parties can move on and be successful, especially Grambling’s program.

  4. Broadway, was the HC and I don’t blame him for what happen. Spady was seen on the sideline cussing at Broadway, disrepsect get you fired in/at most places I worked. I just hope we move on from what I saw in Orlando and Dallas last year Spady’s attitude loss both of those games in my honest opinion. Plus the Offense always started slow, and seem unprepared even after time outs to straighten things out, in the huddles with nobody but Spady, the team would still be confused. Broadway would be nowhere near that timeout huddle.

  5. Whoever you are "Catmendue2", I must tell you. You could not be farther from the truth. I would never disrespect Rod Broadway! Personally, I count him as a friend! Professionally, I truly believe he is the consumate professional, and he has given and taught me more than anyone else I've worked for, or with, in my 18 years in this profession. Coach and me, we are fierce competitors. At times we got caught up in the spirit of competition, but NEVER would I disrespect Rod Broadway. I'm leaving Grambling because I have an opportunity to better myself professionally. That is it! That's the ONLY reason I'm leaving. I cannot win with the Grambling "supporters" so I won't try to defend myself to you. I'll just say, I did the best I could do while at Grambling. I tried to honor the tradition of excellence and I tried to be worthy of my title. If I fell short of that goal, God knows I tried. Thank you Grambling and Coach Broadway for a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to be the OC at the "Icon". I'll always love Grambling…

  6. There's his story and there's his story. Whose story did you report Deriso? Is it a win, lose or draw? I choose to perceive it's the latter. Every since my involvement in and with football, from little league to the NFL, I've heard it said that defense wins championships anyway. I also choose to believe Spady will be and do fine. He's got two of the best things yet going for him that Broadway doesn't, God out front and a beautiful strong, supportive, and loving wife by his side.

  7. Whoever you are “Catmendue2”, I must tell you. You could not be farther from the truth. I would never disrespect Rod Broadway! Personally, I count him as a friend! Professionally, I truly believe he is the consumate professional, and he has given and taught me more than anyone else I’ve worked for, or with, in my 18 years in this profession. Coach and me, we are fierce competitors. At times we got caught up in the spirit of competition, but NEVER would I disrespect Rod Broadway. I’m leaving Grambling because I have an opportunity to better myself professionally. That is it! That’s the ONLY reason I’m leaving. I cannot win with the Grambling “supporters” so I won’t try to defend myself to you. I’ll just say, I did the best I could do while at Grambling. I tried to honor the tradition of excellence and I tried to be worthy of my title. If I fell short of that goal, God knows I tried. Thank you Grambling and Coach Broadway for a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to be the OC at the “Icon”. I’ll always love Grambling…

  8. There’s his story and there’s his story. Whose story did you report Deriso? Is it a win, lose or draw? I choose to perceive it’s the latter. Every since my involvement in and with football, from little league to the NFL, I’ve heard it said that defense wins championships anyway. I also choose to believe Spady will be and do fine. He’s got two of the best things yet going for him that Broadway doesn’t, God out front and a beautiful strong, supportive, and loving wife by his side.

  9. Glad to know you appreciated your time at GSU… nice touch referring to us as "The ICON". Best of everything in this new opportunity!

  10. Well peolpe looks like we are getting an up-and-close and even persoanl look and taste of the bitter side if college football. It may be hard to beleive or maybe even harder to swallow but yes, even at the "ICON(I really like that name) it goes on. Even during Coach Rob's tenure he had opposition and tough desicions to make. I think alumni and peolpe who just are so into our school are starting to get more involved and are starting to see that it's more to than the Homecoming and the Bayou Classic that goes on. I have grew up palying football and studying the politics behind it and whoa!, does it get ugly. I pray for Coach Spady and his family and I also pray for "THE ICON" and may continue the legacy of producing college graduates, pro atheletes and most importantly great men! We must not forget the pressure Coach Brodway is under to keep uo this legacy. Look what happened to Coach Spears when you don't win.

  11. Staff turnover is almost a given in today's sports…even on the collegiate level. But it's not necessarily a bad thing for either side. Coach Spady seems to be a smart and articulate young coach who I'm sure will go on to do good things in his professeion. Coach B'way is a saavy "old lion" and understands that the bottom line is about winning. In fact, I think he handled it well in regard to keeping this in-house. However, I "read into" the fact that Coach Spady was looking to relocate and move on based on the interviews he was having with Grand Valley, Nichols, etc. Glad it worked out for all concerned!

  12. Mikebigg, your right! I think this may be one of those rare moments where we had it in our laps to see, hear, and read about up close and personal. Just because wants to leave doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Once you coach at Grambling, that's it, everybody starts watching and monitoring your progress. Coaching at "THE ICON" carries alot of weight in the world of college football! Savvy "old lion", that he is and has proven himself 3 winning seasons in a row, no home losses,2 Bayou Classics, SWAC Championship and a NCAA Black College Nat'l Championship. I pray for many more to come!

  13. Thank You coach Spady for your contribution and effort…don't worry about the characters on these boards…overall, u did a verry good job with what you were given to work with and we had great success….the majority of the GSU family wish you nothing but the best…you and coach Broadway have been true gentlemen and we here at GSU will never forget that!

  14. Thank you coach Spady for your explanation and I hope someday you get that chance to be your own boss. Maybe someday you will return to Grambling and run this program. Good Luck and I hope God bless you and your family. Being a Gramblinite since 1967 it make me a little more critical than most. But, I understand we are a tough bunch fans to please and please don't take it personal, cuz we are just fans that want to win every game. We are a spoiled group, to say the least.

  15. Glad to know you appreciated your time at GSU… nice touch referring to us as “The ICON”. Best of everything in this new opportunity!

  16. Well peolpe looks like we are getting an up-and-close and even persoanl look and taste of the bitter side if college football. It may be hard to beleive or maybe even harder to swallow but yes, even at the “ICON(I really like that name) it goes on. Even during Coach Rob’s tenure he had opposition and tough desicions to make. I think alumni and peolpe who just are so into our school are starting to get more involved and are starting to see that it’s more to than the Homecoming and the Bayou Classic that goes on. I have grew up palying football and studying the politics behind it and whoa!, does it get ugly. I pray for Coach Spady and his family and I also pray for “THE ICON” and may continue the legacy of producing college graduates, pro atheletes and most importantly great men! We must not forget the pressure Coach Brodway is under to keep uo this legacy. Look what happened to Coach Spears when you don’t win.

  17. Staff turnover is almost a given in today’s sports…even on the collegiate level. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing for either side. Coach Spady seems to be a smart and articulate young coach who I’m sure will go on to do good things in his professeion. Coach B’way is a saavy “old lion” and understands that the bottom line is about winning. In fact, I think he handled it well in regard to keeping this in-house. However, I “read into” the fact that Coach Spady was looking to relocate and move on based on the interviews he was having with Grand Valley, Nichols, etc. Glad it worked out for all concerned!

  18. Mikebigg, your right! I think this may be one of those rare moments where we had it in our laps to see, hear, and read about up close and personal. Just because wants to leave doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Once you coach at Grambling, that’s it, everybody starts watching and monitoring your progress. Coaching at “THE ICON” carries alot of weight in the world of college football! Savvy “old lion”, that he is and has proven himself 3 winning seasons in a row, no home losses,2 Bayou Classics, SWAC Championship and a NCAA Black College Nat’l Championship. I pray for many more to come!

  19. Thank You coach Spady for your contribution and effort…don’t worry about the characters on these boards…overall, u did a verry good job with what you were given to work with and we had great success….the majority of the GSU family wish you nothing but the best…you and coach Broadway have been true gentlemen and we here at GSU will never forget that!

  20. Thank you coach Spady for your explanation and I hope someday you get that chance to be your own boss. Maybe someday you will return to Grambling and run this program. Good Luck and I hope God bless you and your family. Being a Gramblinite since 1967 it make me a little more critical than most. But, I understand we are a tough bunch fans to please and please don’t take it personal, cuz we are just fans that want to win every game. We are a spoiled group, to say the least.

  21. lol at Catmendue…yeah we come hard but that's a good thing. Plus you showed your class with that well-worded response.

  22. lol at Catmendue…yeah we come hard but that’s a good thing. Plus you showed your class with that well-worded response.

  23. Knowing what the Broadway's and Spady's have to do to compete with the so called Okalohama States,Universities of Texas and Alabama's I understand why they have the problems they encounter with each others when there is a losing season. I've always wondered why most of the called prime football players of today don't look at the predominately Black Colleges and University's the way they do the predominately White one's. I know the preception is that they have more coverage from the media and more T.V. exposure, but if the so called top players played for those black schools the media and exposure would come along with the dominance of the college football, basketball and track to name a few of what they excel in.
    With this said I would also like to know if the Black college coaches go after the top players or do they give up because the Division 1A school have them on their radar. If this is so please don't ever concide to that, and Black parents teach your children about the HBCU's along with the other Colleges and Universities.

  24. He's going to D-1…to the WAC..Reno, Nevada…

    Spady, you got my support…this crab in the bucket syndrome is why blacks are where we are today

    Thanks for your time…in real-world college football, a coach leaving for a higher job is an honor

  25. Knowing what the Broadway’s and Spady’s have to do to compete with the so called Okalohama States,Universities of Texas and Alabama’s I understand why they have the problems they encounter with each others when there is a losing season. I’ve always wondered why most of the called prime football players of today don’t look at the predominately Black Colleges and University’s the way they do the predominately White one’s. I know the preception is that they have more coverage from the media and more T.V. exposure, but if the so called top players played for those black schools the media and exposure would come along with the dominance of the college football, basketball and track to name a few of what they excel in.
    With this said I would also like to know if the Black college coaches go after the top players or do they give up because the Division 1A school have them on their radar. If this is so please don’t ever concide to that, and Black parents teach your children about the HBCU’s along with the other Colleges and Universities.

  26. He’s going to D-1…to the WAC..Reno, Nevada…

    Spady, you got my support…this crab in the bucket syndrome is why blacks are where we are today

    Thanks for your time…in real-world college football, a coach leaving for a higher job is an honor

  27. THERE IS NO HIGHER HONOR THAN COACHING AT "THE ICON". BUT ANYWAY, THANKS COACH SPADY FOR COMING IN AND TEACHING THESE YOUNG MEN MORE THAN JUST FOOTBALL! THAT'S WHAT WE DO AT "THE ICON".

  28. THERE IS NO HIGHER HONOR THAN COACHING AT “THE ICON”. BUT ANYWAY, THANKS COACH SPADY FOR COMING IN AND TEACHING THESE YOUNG MEN MORE THAN JUST FOOTBALL! THAT’S WHAT WE DO AT “THE ICON”.

  29. Pingback: Grambling's offseason of change: No Greg Dillon, new playcaller : The Deriso Report


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