William C. Gorden (June 30, 1930 – October 23, 2020)
From 1976 to 1991, W.C. Gordon became one of the most prolific coaches in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. He forged a championship era at Jackson State while competing against some of the most formidable programs and coaches, namely Eddie Robinson and Grambling, Marino Casem and Alcorn State, Archie Cooley and Mississippi Valley State and Houston Markham and Alabama State.
Gorden compiled a career record of 119-48-5. His Tigers dominated the conference during the eighties, winning eight SWAC titles – four in a row from 1985- and played in nine NCAA Division 1-AA semifinal games- although all ended in losses.
Gordon played football at Tennessee State University before joining the football staff as an assistant coach in 1966. He was asked to take the head coaching reins during the 1976 season that ended dismally. From 1977 -79, the Tigers finished behind Grambling in the conference but finally went on a three year run in top of the SWAC. During the 1980s, Jackson State won 28 straight SWAC games and only had one losing season (1984). They regained their swagger as they put together an impressive streak of No. 1 finishes and 6th consecutive NCAA Division 1-AA playoff appearances.
They were the only SWAC team to beat Eddie Robinson and Grambling State four consecutive years.
Under Gordon leadership, the Jackson State University football team, led the nation in football attendance in Division I-AA from 1983-1994 (11 straight years).
The Tigers achieved the highest average for attendance in Division I-AA history when it averaged 38,873 fans a game in 1977.
In 1980-81, the first NCAA comprehensive graduation rate scorecard had JSU the leader in the state of Mississippi with a 61.9% graduation rate (followed by the University of Mississippi with a 45% graduation rate among football players).
By the 1981-82 season, JSU had 21 former student-athletes playing in the NFL, which was among the top five schools producing professional football players in the nation.
(Above) Walter Payton; (Below) Jackie Slater