Grambling a win-win situation

Updated: September 11, 2003, 8:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Grambling State coach Dough Williams carried a No. 13 jersey into his news conference on Tuesday, not hiding his interest in having Maurice Clarett transfer to the Division I-AA school.

"That's what he would wear," Williams joked. "Isn't that what most of the questions will be about?"

The news conference was dominated by questions about Clarett, but Williams said no one at the school had spoken to him.

"We could use him," Williams said.

Clarett was charged Tuesday with lying about items stolen from his car, and Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said the school is ready to cut ties with the sophomore.

Williams said Monday he hasn't spoken with Clarett's adviser Jim Brown, Clarett or Clarett's mother about a possible transfer. But if Clarett did want to discuss transferring to the legendary I-AA program, Williams said, "I would take his call. I think it would be a smart move to take his call.

"A lot of people would like to have Maurice Clarett," Williams said. "I don't think a headache comes with the kid. He didn't shoot nobody. They didn't arrest him for drugs. He didn't rape nobody. Ain't no problem with the kid."

If Clarett were to transfer to a I-AA school, he would first have to serve whatever NCAA sanctions are levied against him. He also would have to be enrolled in school and eligible to play during that suspension. According to Brown, Ohio State has informed the Claretts the penalty is likely to last 12 games.

If OSU released him from his athletic scholarship -- and Clarett satisfied Grambling's transfer requirements -- the sophomore running back would be eligible to play in time for the 2004 season. Depending on circumstances, Clarett could conceivably enroll in Grambling in time for the 2004 spring practice.

NCAA spokeswoman Kay Hawes would not speak about the Clarett case, but did say that if a suspended or ineligible player transferred, the athlete's new school would first have to declare him ineligible, and would then seek his reinstatement through the organization.

Both Williams and Grambling athletic director Albert Dennis said that talk of Clarett transferring is premature, but they added that Clarett's presence could be a win-win situation for the school and the player.

Grambling would gain a Heisman Trophy-quality player -- and benefit from the media attention and ticket sales that would come from such a transfer. Meanwhile, Clarett could avoid the NCAA Div. 1 transfer rule, which would force him to sit out one year in addition to whatever suspensions he might face. Also, he would be able to play at a high profile I-AA program and then presumably enter the NFL draft in 2005.

"I think what he would have going for him is himself, Doug Williams and Grambling," said Williams. "We get a bunch of (NFL) scouts through here."

Grambling has won two straight Southwestern Athletic Conference titles with a wide-open offense directed by quarterback Bruce Eugene, the reigning conference player of the year.

"It would alter our offense to more of a running attack," Williams said, "and would take some pressure off of Bruce Eugene. It would give us a chance to win a fourth straight."

ESPN The Magazine senior writer Gene Wojciechowski and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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