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HBCU Gameday Presents: Mt. Rushmore of HBCU Football Coaches

On Tuesday we revealed our HBCU Football Player Mt. Rushmore. It ignignited a pretty good debate. Today we’ll take a look at the coaches. Check out our list and tell us what you think.

HBCU Football Coaching Mt. Rushmore


Eddie Robinson, Grambling State: A slam dunk if there ever was one. Coached 57 years at the same school, winning 408 games. Every team he coached from 1960 to 1986 finished with a winning record.

*Best team: Grambling’s 1955 squad went undefeated (10-0) and allowed just 54 points all season. 21 of those points were scored by FAMU in the Orange Blossom Classic, the mythical Black College National Championship Game.

*Pro Products: Hall of Famers Willie Davis, Willie Brown, Buck Buchanan and Charlie Joyner are just a few of the more than 200 NFL players Robinson coached.

Jake Gaither never produced a losing season in 25 years at FAMU. (Florida Memory photo)

Jake Gaither, Florida A&M: No coach defines “winner” in college football like Jake Gaither. The man never had a losing season in his 25 year career as a head coach. His worst record was a 6-4-1 season in 1946. He recorded three perfect seasons, including a

*Best team: His 1960 squad went 10-0 and scored 506 points while holding his opponents to just 33 points all season. Read that again slowly.

*Pro Products: “Bullet” Bob Hayes, Ken Riley, Willie Gallimore

John Merritt recorded 29 straight winning seasons at JSU and TSU. (Merritt Classic photo)

John Merritt, (Jackson State, Tennessee State): Merritt may not have the mainstream praise that Gaither and Robinson would achieve, but he was a peer and a thorn-in-the side to both men. The Kentucky State alum started slowly at Jackson State, but quickly turned things around, recording winning seasons in each of his last eight years in Jackson. He would go on to solidify his legacy at Tennessee State where he finished over .500 in each of his 21 years there.

*Best Team: Tennessee State’s 1966 team went 10-0 and allowed just 51 points. 23 of those were scored by Robinson’s Grambling State squad. TSU capped off its season by beating Muskingum in the Grantland Rice Bowl and winning the Black National Championship.

*Pro Products: Eldridge Dickey, Joe Gilliam, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Richard Dent, Claude Humphrey

Billy Joe won 243 games, second to Eddie Robinson among HBCU coaches.


Billy Joe (Cheney State, Central State, FAMU, Miles): The youngest coach on the list, Joe is the only one who didn’t attend an HBCU. He definitely left his mark on them, however, spending more than three decades competing under circumstances that were less favorable than the other men on this list. Joe started his coaching career at Cheyney State, but really made his mark at Central State, where he won five-consecutive Black College National Championships and two NAIA Championships. He then moved on to FAMU were he had his team one game away from a Division I-AA National Championship berth in 1999.

*Best Team: The 1992 Central State team featured future pros Erik Williams and Hugh Douglas.

*Pro Products: Williams, Douglass, Vince Buck, Quinn Gray, Terry Mickens

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