Who is Eddie Robinson? Only the new most winningest coach in college football history
With the NCAA stripping former Penn State coach Joe Paterno of his wins from 1998 to 2011, Eddie Robinson of Grambling State has become the most winningest coach in college football history. Wait, who’s Eddie Robinson?
Robinson was the longtime coach of the Tigers of Grambling State University, a historically black university in northern Louisiana. Hired in 1941, he led the team to 408 wins over the course of his six-decade career. At a time when institutionalized racism was the law of the land in Louisiana, Robinson graduated hundreds of players, and and sent 200 of them onward to the pros, including Paul “Tank” Younger, the first player from a historically black college to play in the NFL.
“Everybody wanted to play at Grambling,” Jackson State coach Rick Comegy told ESPN after Robinson’s death in 2007. “He’d done such a fantastic job. He was on national TV, you know, and that was the first time I’d ever seen a black college football team on TV growing up.”
At the time of his retirement in 1997, Robinson was the winningest coach in college football history — a record that stood until Paterno broke it in the midst of PSU’s scandal-ridden 2011 season.
Paterno was forced to resign two weeks later.
As Paterno’s role in covering up a sex abuse scandal at Penn State became known, the town of Grambling petitioned the NCAA to strip the longtime PSU coach of his wins and restore Robinson to his former position at the top of the college football leaderboard.
“Even though it was done by outside counsel, the Freeh Report was the university’s report,” Grambling city attorney Pamela Breedlove wrote, according to the Shreveport Times. “It said what their employees, including coach Paterno, did wrong. We’re hoping the end result of this is coach Robinson will get his record back so everyone will think a great man holds this record.”
Barely a week later, he did.
With Paterno’s wins stripped, the record for most Division I wins now belongs to Bobby Bowden of Florida State.