Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas-Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Former UA linebacker Winston named Grambling interim coach
Former University of Arkansas football player Dennis Winston at the Washington County Historical Society in 2012. Winston and other former Razorbacks spoke about their experiences being among the first black players to play at the University of Arkansas.
FAYETTEVILLE Dennis "Dirt" Winston, a former Arkansas linebacker and later assistant coach, was named interim head coach at Grambling State on Thursday.
Winston, a Marianna native, is the Tigers' third coach in the last five weeks. Doug Williams was fired last month and interim coach George Ragsdale was reassigned Thursday after players boycotted practice two consecutive days.
According to the Shreveport Times, players met with university administrators on Wednesday to express concerns over Williams' firing and traveling by bus instead of plane to games in Kansas City, Mo. and Indianapolis. The newspaper reported the players eventually walked out of the meeting and didn't show up for practice that day.
Winston is in his third stint as a coach for Grambling, which was a football powerhouse under the late Eddie Robinson, a College Football Hall of Fame member who won a record 408 games. The Tigers are 0-7 and will reportedly forfeit their scheduled game against Jackson State on Saturday.
At Arkansas, Winston was a four-year letterman from 1973-76. Winston helped represent a significant change for the football program as part of a famed signing class in 1973 featuring 13 black players, the most ever for the university at the time.
He played 11 seasons in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints. He was a member of the Steelers' Super Bowl-winning teams in 1978 and '79.
Winston coached the Razorbacks' outside linebackers in 1997 - Danny Ford's final season as Arkansas head coach. He has also served on coaching staffs at Arkansas State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.