Coach torn between Grambling and Bucs

Updated: February 15, 2004, 10:17 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Doug Williams has apparently had a change of heart about leaving Grambling State as the school's football coach, instead of joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' front office, a source told ESPN on Sunday.

The Bucs deny the story and are still expecting Williams to report Tuesday. As of Sunday, Williams had not formally withdrawn from his post at his alma mater.

Williams returned to Grambling on Friday to formally withdraw from his coaching post, but after a tearful meeting with the team, he postponed that move, the source told ESPN.

On Thursday, Williams, a former Super Bowl MVP, resigned from Grambling to become a personnel executive with Tampa Bay, evaluating players and assisting in the recruitment of free agents. He planned to return to the Bucs, one of the teams he played for during his professional career, in time to attend next week's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Bucs coach Jon Gruden approached Williams last month about working for the Bucs. Williams was interested in Gruden's offer, but didn't want to discuss it until after the college football recruiting period ended last week.

The Grambling coach oversaw the signing of more than 20 prospects this month before the Buccaneers finalized their offer.

Williams played for Tampa Bay from 1978-82, leading the team to three playoff berths. A contract dispute led the embittered Williams to leave the Bucs for the USFL. In 1986, Williams signed with the Washington Redskins, who he led to a 42-10 rout of the Denver Broncos in the 1988 Super Bowl. He is the only black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

The former quarterback apparently had looked forward to returning to the Buccaneers, a sign that no rancor for his old team still existed.

Williams' resignation Thursday shocked Grambling State players, school officials and community members.

"It's a big shock, a huge shock," Grambling State spokesman Peter Forest said Thursday. "This is a huge loss to Grambling, no question."

Williams became the second football coach in Grambling State history, replacing Eddie Robinson in 1997. Before that, he was a head coach at Morehouse.

Grambling State struggled through four losing seasons before Williams became coach. He is 52-18 in six seasons and has coached the Tigers to three Southwestern Athletic Conference championships.

Grambling State was on track to win a fourth straight title this season until they were derailed by Southern in the Bayou Classic, ending the Tigers' season a game short of the SWAC title game.