The Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame will holds its annual awards banquet on Saturday, August 8 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, selects annual award winners in a variety of categories, in addition to selecting each year’s Hall of Fame class and Amateur Athletes of the Month. Overall, 24 individuals and two teams will be honored at this year’s banquet. The honorees are being announced over an eight-day period.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee began in 1958 when James Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a sports awards committee to immortalize local sports history. For 12 years, the committee honored local athletes each month. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, leading to the creation of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 legends from the Crescent City in its first induction class. While adding the responsibility of selecting Hall of Famers, the committee has continued to recognize the top amateur athlete in the Greater New Orleans area each month – the honors enter their 57th year in 2015. To be eligible, an athlete must be a native of the greater New Orleans area or must compete for a team in the metropolitan region.
Broderick Fobbs, the head football coach at Grambling State University, will be recognized at the event as the 2014-15 recipient of the Eddie Robinson Award. The award is presented annually to an athlete, coach, team or athletic administrator in Louisiana who demonstrates the qualities most associated with Grambling legend Eddie Robinson: outstanding achievement in athletics, academics, sportsmanship and citizenship by maximizing the use of limited resources.
Fobbs is being honored after taking over the reins of the award’s namesake’s program and lifting it up from depths to which it had never fallen in history – a combined record of 2-21 during the 2012-2013 seasons. Things sunk so low that the 2013 season was most memorable due to a player revolt related to dissatisfaction with athletic facilities and travel accommodations. The week-long boycott forced cancellation of a road game against Jackson State.
One of the most recognized brands in college football was getting recognition for all the wrong reasons.
Enter Fobbs, a Grambling alum who was one of the few coaches to jump at the vacant head coaching position. All he did was lead the G-Men to seven wins – one win away from playing for the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship.
“Just the name Eddie Robinson, that says it all for me. It’s just a tremendous honor to receive an award with his name on it,” beamed the man who captained two editions of Grambling teams coached by Robinson.
The 2014 Grambling Tigers lost the first three games of the season before putting together a seven-game winning streak.
The victory-string was snapped by Alabama State, however the Tigers entered the Bayou Classic against arch-rival Southern needing a win for a spot in the conference title game. Grambling fell short in a 52-45 thriller, completing the year with a 7-5 record and one of the most remarkable turnarounds in recent college football history.
Fobbs says he relied on one of many lessons he learned from the man whose name graces this award.
“Just the importance of discipline and getting up every day and dusting yourself off and continuing to work and do your job.”
The 2014 SWAC Coach of the Year heard the wisdom of Eddie Robinson his entire life. Before getting those life lessons from the man himself as a Grambling student-athlete, it was drilled into his psyche by his father Lee Fobbs, an outstanding running back at Grambling under Coach Robinson in the late sixties and currently a member of Broderick’s coaching staff.
“He had a Plan A going in but he did not have a Plan B because he really believed in Plan A. He didn’t believe it would fail,” says the proud father.
“He’s done a great job with his staff and with the kids in terms of where he wants them to go academically. I just think it’s fitting that he would win this award.”
Story submitted by Ro Brown of the Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier bowl games in the country, having hosted 23 national champions, 86 Hall of Fame players, 46 Hall of Fame coaches and 15 Heisman Trophy winners in its 82-year history. The upcoming Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic on January 1, 2016 will feature the top available team from the Big 12 Conference facing off against the top available team from the SEC. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee is involved with various community initiatives through hosting and sponsorships of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 25,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2 billion into the local economy in the last decade.