Spears in line to replace Williams

Updated: February 19, 2004, 11:14 AM ET
Associated Press

GRAMBLING, La. -- Grambling assistant head coach Melvin Spears is in line to be named as an interim replacement for Doug Williams.

"We hope to have the paperwork back in the morning," Grambling State athletics director Albert Dennis said Wednesday night.

An announcement was expected later Thursday, said university spokeswoman Vickie Jackson.

Williams resigned on Friday to take an executive position in personnel with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A late effort by University of Louisiana System board president Sally Clausen to retain Williams failed Tuesday.

"I'm very grateful that Dr. Clausen made a quick decision after it was resolved that we couldn't keep coach Williams," Spears said late Wednesday. "It would really be a blessing just to have an opportunity to lead a program of this nature."

Though he will be an interim coach, Dennis said that Spears will be given a one-year contract.

Dennis said the school was only seeking an interim solution so that, after the end of the 2004 season, the university's new president can be involved with the final selection of a football coach. Acting President Neari Warner has said she will not seek the president's post permanently.

Spears, also the team's offensive coordinator since 1998, was an early front runner for the position, though Grambling also received permission to talk to Texas A&M running backs coach Lee Fobbs.

Fobbs said Wednesday that he had spoken to Grambling, but that he had not been in contact with the school since last week.

Williams said Grambling should not have considered anyone other than Spears.

"I think that was very, very disrespectful," Williams said. "I can't even imagine that, after helping this program grow the way this coach has, that you would even think about bringing someone else in there. This isn't about Lee Fobbs. It's about respect for what we've done."

With Spears leading the offense, Grambling won three straight Southwestern Athletic Conference titles, beginning in 2000.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press