TSU hires 1st-time coach Eddie George hoping for revival

FILE - Former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George speaks as his number 27 is retired during a halftime ceremony at an NFL football game between the Titans and the Indianapolis Colts in Nashville, in this Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, file photo. Tennessee State has hired former NFL running back Eddie George as the new NCAA college football coach, banking on his name and football connections to revive the program. TSU introduced George at a news conference Tuesday, April 13, 2021.  (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)
FILE - Former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George speaks as his number 27 is retired during a halftime ceremony at an NFL football game between the Titans and the Indianapolis Colts in Nashville, in this Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, file photo. Tennessee State has hired former NFL running back Eddie George as the new NCAA college football coach, banking on his name and football connections to revive the program. TSU introduced George at a news conference Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee State is banking on Eddie George's name, connections and football knowledge as a former NFL running back to return the proud program with 13 Black national championships to national prominence.

TSU, a historically Black college or university, introduced George at a news conference Tuesday inside the Gentry Center with the Aristocrat of Bands on hand. Athletic director Mikki Allen said his priority when hired a year ago was to renew the standard of excellence. He believes he found his man in George, a proven winner on and off the field.

“He’s dynamic. He's charismatic. He's energetic and magnetic and has all the tools necessary to build a championship level program here at the Tennessee State University,” Allen said.

Tennessee State is taking a risk. George, a four-time Pro Bowl running back with the Tennessee Titans and the 1995 Heisman Trophy winner with Ohio State, has not coached before. He played nine seasons in the NFL and ran for 10,441 yards.

George said this is a new chapter for him. “The No. 1 goal is to win and bring prominence back to this university where it belongs,” he said.

George said he truly understands the history of Tennessee State football. The campus hosted the then-Tennessee Oilers' first training camps in 1997 and 1998 after the franchise relocated from Houston.

He ticked off the names of TSU coaches past from Henry Kean and John A. Merritt to Joe Gilliam Sr. and players like Pro Football Hall of Famers Richard Dent and Claude Humphrey. George noted that TSU is the No. 1 HBCU for producing NFL players.

“Very aware, extremely aware of the rich history here, and I get it,” George said. “So taking this job on carries a lot. I have some big shoes to fill. But I feel like I’m the man to get the job done.”