Tennessee State has hired former Ohio State and Tennessee Titans great Eddie George as its next football coach, the school announced Tuesday. George, who has served as a mentor for players but has limited coaching experience, will take over the role formerly occupied by Rod Reed -- who had been coach of the Tigers since 2010. The Tigers wrapped up the 2021 spring season with a 2-5 record after a 46-23 loss to Southeast Missouri State on Sunday.
"I am excited about being named head coach at Tennessee State University," George said. "I thank [President Glenda] Glover, [athletic director] Dr. [Mikki] Allen, and each of you for the confidence you have placed in me. All I have done has prepared me for this moment, whether that's my football career, my entrepreneurial endeavors, my acting career. Coaching is a full commitment, a duty of service. I take that seriously. I've done a lot of soul searching and due diligence. The more I thought about it, I got more and more excited about it. It was like picking up an old guitar or getting back on a bike, it's familiar but in a different capacity. It's exciting. I'm going to be innovative, creative and fun."
George played in Nashville, Tennessee, for the Tennessee Titans from 1996 to 2003 after a Hall of Fame career as a Heisman Trophy-winner for Ohio State. His No. 27 has been retired by both the Buckeyes and the Titans, and while his post-playing careers as a business executive and actor have taken him on the road, he's remained close to the Nashville community. Tennessee State hopes that George will be able to not only bring notoriety but success for a program that hasn't won the Ohio Valley Conference since 1999 or qualified for the FCS Playoffs since 2013.
"Eddie George has been a winner in every facet of the game and we look forward to him bringing that same commitment to our players and having it translate into winning on and off the field," Allen said. "We are excited to have him join us and lead the next chapter of our storied football program."
FootballScoop.com reported Tuesday that George has reached out to several high-profile ex-players and coaches to potentially join his staff. Former NFL and Purdue star Rod Woodson is reportedly a candidate to be the Tigers' secondary coach, while ex-Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher is reportedly working in an advisory role for George.
With this move, George becomes the another NFL great to jump into the coaching ranks at the FCS level, following Deion Sanders' hire at Jackson State. The connection between these two proud programs is College Football Hall of Fame coach John Merritt, who won SWAC titles with Jackson State before taking over at Tennessee State where he had four undefeated seasons and a .828 winning percentage (172-33-7) from 1963-83.