Loss to Southern sparks 'new direction'

Updated: December 9, 2003, 3:37 PM ET
Associated Press

GRAMBLING, La. -- Grambling State football coach Doug Williams fired one defensive assistant and reassigned another Tuesday, just days after his team's three-year run of Southwestern Athletic Conference championships abruptly ended.

Interim defensive coordinator Heishma Northern will not be offered an opportunity to take over full time, while his brother Gabe Northern won't return as an assistant with the defensive line.

"I'm going to make some changes," Williams said. "We're going in a new direction."

The moves came in the wake of Southern's 44-41 win at the Bayou Classic on Nov. 29 in New Orleans, which included a stunning 552 passing yards by Southern. The win also gave Southern a berth in Saturday's SWAC title game.

"We can't get complacent," Williams said. "When you don't win, it's like the dream is over. Time to wake up."

Williams said Ezil Bibbs, who played defensive end at Grambling State under Eddie Robinson, will take over defensive line duties. Bibbs was drafted by the New York Giants in 1974.

Williams didn't release the names of candidates for the defensive coordinator position. He has no timetable for hiring assistants.

"Hopefully, it will be within the next couple of weeks," Williams said. "I probably won't be able to bring him in until the first of the year."

Heishma Northern was named interim defensive coordinator when longtime assistant Michael Roach took a leave of absence early in the 2003 season.

Grambling finished 74th out of the nation's 122 Division I-AA schools on defense. No SWAC team gave up more yards in the air this season.

Williams said he offered Heishma Northern a position as either secondary or linebacker assistant -- depending on where a new defensive coordinator decides he'd like to work. But Williams said Heishma Northern had not indicated whether he would stay.

Heishma Northern has been with Williams since Williams' first coaching job at Morehouse College in 1997, first as the running backs/special teams coordinator then as secondary coach.

Gabe Northern has coached the defensive line for the past three years. He was a defensive end from 1992-95 at LSU, a stint that included two All-SEC honors and a defensive most valuable player award against Michigan State in the Independence Bowl. Northern was then drafted and played for the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings through 2001.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press