Broderick Fobbs and Dawson Odums are just starting to get to know one another as colleagues in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Fobbs is in his first season as Grambling’s head coach and Odums is finishing his second full season as Southern’s head coach. They go head-to-head for the first time in the Bayou Classic on Saturday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with the SWAC West Division title going to the winning team.
Could this be the start of something big?
Well, it’s not exactly Eddie Robinson and Pete Richardson just yet, but both schools should feel they have placed their football programs in the hands of the right people, two young coaches who have guided remarkable resurgences at two universities that are rightfully proud of their football heritage.
Fobbs’ coaching background is on offense, and Odums serves as his own defensive coordinator.
This game should be fun, and maybe this series is going to return to being fun for a while, thanks to these two guys.
These two coaches don’t know each other as well as they know of each other, but they do have a bit in common, beyond their new-found roles in this long-time rivalry.
Odums was defensive coordinator at North Carolina A&T when Fobbs’ father, Lee, was head coach there.
“I learned how to be humble from Lee Fobbs,” Odums said. “He never got rattled. He was always encouraging, even when he got discouraged.
“That’s where I learned to be positive — just stay positive, and everything else will work out.”
Odums knows Broderick Fobbs’ brother, Jamaal, better than he knows Broderick. Jamaal, who’s running backs coach at Liberty University, and Odums often crossed paths at A&T when Jamaal would visit his father. They also run into one another recruiting the New Orleans area.
“It really has been a tremendous blessing for me to work with Lee Fobbs,” Odums said. “He let you coach and held you accountable for it. You were paid to do a job, and he expected you to go do it. Great guy, great family.”
Lee Fobbs is essentially Roderick’s consigliere to Roderick at Grambling. The elder Fobbs played for coach Robinson and was an assistant under him. The younger Fobbs was a running back on coach Robinson’s team.
When the Tigers made the hire less than a year ago, Odums figured it wouldn’t be long before Grambling was on its way back.
And here we are: Fobbs’ 7-1 Tigers vs. Odums’ 7-1 Jaguars for the SWAC West Division title.
“His dad’s up there with him,” Odums said of Roderick, “so I figured they’d get it rolling. They understand the makeup of the ground and the lay of the land. They’re Gramblingites. They know.”
After Odums led Southern to its first SWAC championship in 10 years last season, the university moved quickly to sign him to a long-term deal, something that was in the works even before Odums’ alma mater, North Carolina Central, brought him back to campus for a job interview.
It certainly appears the potential exists for a long-term arrangement between Fobbs and his alma mater.
“When the season is over,” Odums said, “I’ll look forward to spending some time with (Broderick) and talking to him.
“When you’re at this kind of level, sometimes you’re going to face adversity and you can really find the character of those coaches when they can build a team up from out of that kind of situation.”