Remembering Collie Nicholson: A Mentor And A Friend

By Joe Booker
Updated: September 29, 2006

TEXAS—It hit me hard after being told about the death of former Grambling public relation-sports information director Collie J. Nicholson. He was one of my closes friends. We would talk at least once a month. He and his wife Ophelia treated me as a member of the family.

I remembered when I visited him at his new home in Shreveport, many, many years ago. As he showed me around and when we got to one bedroom, he said,” this is your room.”


When I was hired by Prairie View as its first full-time sports information director, Collie took me under his wings and became my mentor as well as a close friend. He always made sure the media was taken care off. He had a media list included media throughout the country. He had those great God-given people skills that are hard to teach. He treated the small media as he did the big national media. I tried to follow in his footsteps in dealing with the media. He was the best I ever knew with words. We became closer when Prairie View and Grambling played in classic football games in Washington, D.C., Chicago and the Cotton Bowl. We would arrive in the city a week prior to the game to promote the game and provide the media with information. We also spent a lot time together at the College Sports Information Directors Convention, which was held in places like Denver, Los Angels, Atlanta and Minnesota. As you see, we spent a lot of time together.

The success and honors I won are credited to him.

Put Grambling on the map

Collie’s great PR and promotion vision made Grambling a household name. He once told me that “President Jones gave me the resources and approval and Coach Robinson (Eddie) won games.” His innovative ideas lead to the “Classic” game concept. It started when Collie set up games at Yankee Stadium, Hawaii and Japan. They played in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta as well as the Astrodome and the Cotton Bowl. He created the Grambling football highlight show that was shown on over 120 TV stations around the country in the late 60s. He is the Founder of the Bayou Classic.

Bestowed with honors

The thing I am happy for him is that he received his honors when he was alive to enjoy them. Below are some of the honors he received.

v Grambling Press Box is called the Collie Nicholson Press Box.

v College Sports Information Directors of America Trailblazers Award in 2002.

v Inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2002.

v The Bayou Classic Founders Award in 1992.

v Received the Louisiana Sports writers association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1990.

His legend will live on.