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Hue Jackson speaks on firing from GSU

Former NFL coach reacts to his dismissal
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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Photo by GSU Athletics

GRAMBLING - Hue Jackson, who was fired from his head coaching duties at Grambling State University after two seasons, said Tuesday he appreciates GSU administration for giving him the opportunity to coach at the historic HBCU program, but his exit comes with a feeling of lack of support.

In an exclusive interview with the Leader, Jackson, who went 8-14 in his time at Grambling, said his dismissal comes with mixed emotions and a belief he never had the proper resources to take the G-Men back to the top of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

"I wish there was a little bit more time given, but I understand that the university gets to make the decision they want to make. I want to thank the university, President Gallot, Dr. Scott, all of the administration for the opportunity," Jackson said. "Thank you to my players for allowing me to coach them for the last two years and for the coaching staff I had because those guys work extremely hard. People that I know that helped me pour into the program.

"But we all know, programs can't be turned around in two years, and institutions where funding is sometimes extremely inadequate, facilities, equipment, training, support are significantly in disrepair and institutional support is limited and opportunities are derailed at every turn. But at the same time, that's what these programs are.

"I just think overall, in the HBCU space, a lack of transparency, coordination, collaboration will continue to plague them until everybody understands what you really are trying to accomplish."

Jackson pointed to the emergence of NIL compensation for players and the proliferation of the transfer portal as landscape-changers for the sport.

"I think it's really changed, and I think you have to be very true to what you're trying to do because you have to understand how you want to build a program," he said. "Do you want a fast build? Are you going to build through high school kids? Because that's going to take some time because not all of them are ready to meet the demands of playing at a high level right away. Some are, some aren't."

Jackson went 6-10 in SWAC play in his tenure at Grambling, including two losses in the Bayou Classic to give Southern the all-time series lead 26-24.

In his final press conference as head coach at Grambling, Jackson told reporters he believed the program was trending up, despite the 5-6 finish in 2023. 

“Where do I think the program’s going? Oh, I think we’re getting better. I don’t think we’re going backwards," Jackson said Saturday after the Bayou Classic. "This is a huge rivalry. You want to win the rivalry game, but I’m not going to make the decision this program is going backwards on this game.

"We need to play better. There’s five other opportunities that we lost, and I think we could have played better. We’re still young. We’ve got some seniors that are going to be leaving that are good football players but we’re building, we’re building something. It doesn’t happen overnight, contrary to what people believe. It takes a little time and it takes some seasoning and some guys to really start to understand this hurts and it’s things like this where guys will grow the fastest because that’s painful and that’s a painful loss. And so they gotta grow from it.”

With that said, Jackson told the Leader Tuesday his overall record was not what he expected of himself, nor should fans. After his stop at Grambling, Jackson's record as a head coach between the NFL and college is now 19-58-1.

But in the end, Jackson still holds the belief GSU and its supporters need to rally around each other going forward to be successful.

"At the end of the day, people focus on what the wins and losses are but I think the players and the families that I was involved with, the coaches, all know what we achieved and who had their back and who always gave it their all for them," Jackson said. "I'm grateful for the friendships that were developed and the lives we were able to positively impact and the attention that we brought to Grambling and all the HBCUs. And I want nothing more for those guys to continue to do well on and off the field and they know I'll support them to the end.

"But I will continue to say to all the supporters of Grambling, the fans, the alumni, everybody, it was an honor to be a part of a historic institution. But Grambling needs you. They need you. They really do. And not just to pay at this moment, but every day. They need your financial support as much as your emotional support because without both Grambling can not be all that it has the potential to be."

Grambling State Athletic Director Trayvean Scott responded to Jackson's comments late Tuesday in a text message, saying, "The overarching success of student-athletes will remain our North Star. I wish Coach Jackson well in all of his endeavors."