Below the surface, however, it might be too little, too late.
The buses for the trip to Jackson, Mississippi arrived at Grambling, but no players showed up. The buses departed, leaving an unfortunate Jackson State with no homecoming opponent.
The decision not to play the game was not done in haste. Last Monday, players met with university officials to air their grievances. According to players, university officials threatened to take away scholarships over the matter. Cooler heads prevailed after the national media descended on the small city of Grambling, whose population is smaller than the enrollment at many of Grambling State's SWAC foes.
The players skipped practice Wednesday and then failed to meet the buses Friday.
Their issues and concerns are many and not all focused on the school. Sure, being mad about Doug Williams getting fired and being replaced by the unpopular George Ragsdale (since sacrificed by the school) was a concern. However, much of their anger is connected to the state of Louisiana.
Since 2009, Louisiana's state legislature has slashed $290 million from higher education, a staggering figure considering how low the state ranks in education. Grambling has lost about $6 million of that and it has showed, with dilapidated training facilities and having to take buses to games.
Two weeks ago, the Tigers had to bus it to Dallas to face Prairie View A&M in the State Fair Classic. They arrived run down by the long trip and lost 31-3.
Last week, they endured a 30-hour round trip bus ride to Indianapolis to take on Alcorn State. They were annihilated, 48-0, a loss that, like Prairie View the week before, the players blamed on fatigue from riding the bus for so long. By contrast, Alcorn chartered a plane.
As for the training facilities, former head coach Williams paid for new weight room training mats out of his own pockets. Unfortunately, he didn't follow school purchasing protocol and officials locked the mats up in another building.
A week later, Williams was fired and Ragsdale took over. Ragsdale was just one of six coaches for Grambling, meaning some had to work two positions.
It's easy to see the result. Grambling isn't used to being in this position. Teams once quaked to see GSU on the schedule. Now, they drool. The Tigers are 1-17 since 2012, with the lone win coming against USCAA member Virginia-Lynchburg.
The biggest hurdle now for the Tigers is what comes next.
The options are limited. Even though Ragsdale is gone, the odds that training facilities will suddenly get an influx of money fall somewhere between slim and none in the current economic climate.
It's also possible that Grambling could drop the entire football program, an idea once unheard of. Then again, no one thought the school would oust Eddie Robinson.
For guidance, the Tigers might look at fellow SWAC member Prairie View A&M.
Back in 1988, the Panthers went on strike against head coach Haney Catchings. Catching had taken over for the much-maligned Conway Hayman, but fell quickly out of favor with players.
Players alleged Catching pressured them to put athletics over academics (a problem that still bedevils many historically black schools), withholding financial aid and textbooks until they improved on-field performance. As a result, 43 of the team's 55 players were academically ineligible, with GPA's below 2.0.
When PV officials were slow to act, the players acted for them.
The results were horrendous. The school held on to Catchings. He was caught with his hand in the cookie jar in 1989, eventually pleading guilty to filing false expense reports.
Because of that fraud and the player strike, Prairie View did not field a team in 1990. When play resumed, the school embarked on a non-scholarship route that led to the infamous 80-game losing streak.
Grambling doesn't want to see an 80-game losing streak (no one does), but its options are limited. The school already raised tuition and adding more fees on to the backs of students to help pay for athletics won't play well.
A viable alternative -- one that used to be taboo to even think of -- would be to copy Prairie View and do away with football altogether, at least until things can be straightened up and facilities brought up to code.
The Grambling football program lost $1 million last year and that kind of loss can't be sustained when the entire school is searching the cushions for loose change.
Unlike the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, SWAC schools tend to avoid paycheck games, where they pocket a big payday in exchange for being slaughtered by ranked FBS opponents.
The unofficial policy avoids massacres like Florida A&M's 76-0 embarrassment against no. 4 Ohio State and Savannah State's 77-7 shellacking by then no. 16 Miami. FAMU took home $900,000 for the beating.
Such an amount would have covered most of Grambling's financial hit last season. On the other hand, to ask beleaguered players to sacrifice their bodies for big payouts might be asking too much. They lost 48-0 to Alcorn and the Braves are a conference opponent they have to play. One might shudder to think of Grambling visiting Oklahoma or staying in-state against LSU.
The big payout option is a fantasy at this point.
Maybe new interim head coach Dennis "Dirt" Winston can pull things together enough to finish the season on a high note, which would be getting at least one win.Winston served two terms as an assistant coach under Eddie Robinson. Maybe GSU officials hope lightning can strike twice if Winston replicates Doug Williams' success, although the school got burned with Williams' second bolt.
Winston might be all that, but he'll still have crumbling facilities and no real budget.
In retrospect, the only option for both sides in this fight might be the one no one wants to see. No one knows how officials of the Bayou Classic in the Superdome would react, but it probably would not be positive. At this point, however, it might be more tolerable to cancel the game for a year or two rather than see Grambling field horrible teams in front of a national television audience.
Grambling State might have to put a match to the paper Tigers and begin raising some new cubs to bring the storied program back to dominance.