New Tennessee State football coach Eddie George may define success a little differently than other college coaches.
The 47-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner admitted this week he wants to win championships with the Tigers, but he measures his success as a head coach by the relationships he forges with his players and how well he prepares them for life after football.
“I have no doubt that I can be successful at this,” George said. “Yes, we’re going to win. We want to win championships; we want to have banners up in the rafters. But what success means to me is when you come here to this college, you get an education, be prepared for life after football or after sports, win a championship, be molded and be guided and have a support system there to come back to after to share ideas and be a mentor. That’s success to me. I’ve been a mentor my whole life.”
George has been successful at seemingly every stop along his career, beginning with Ohio State, then the Titans. Then he tackled Broadway and now he owns several successful businesses.
He’s a mentor and personal friend to several current Titans players — most notably running back Derrick Henry — and a pillar of the Nashville community.
So why step into coaching now?
“Coaching was on the forefront of my mind,” George said. “But when I talked to my family, I said, ‘Listen to this — they want me to be the head coach at Tennessee State University. Can you believe that? What do you think?’ She said, ‘Well, why not?’”
While he has no formal head coaching experience, that doesn’t bother George, TSU Athletic Director Mikki Allen or TSU President Glenda Glover. They point to George’s successful college and professional football resume as all the proof they need to feel confident in George’s ability to put the Tigers on the map.
“My goal is to get this program back to prominence,” George said. “I put my word on that. I’m fully committed and totally focused and I’m excited to do it.”
TSU is quickly emerging as a top HBCU destination across all sports, not just football. The men’s basketball team recently made headlines after landing two prominent recruits in three-star point guard Hercy Miller — the son of hip hop legend Master P — and Christian Brown, a former top-100 recruit and Georgia commit who announced his transfer to the school on Monday.
George’s hire raises the national profile of TSU seemingly overnight. He could have a similar effect on the program in terms of recruiting and fundraising that former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders has had at Jackson State.
“I’ve seen what Deion (Sanders) has done down at Jackson State and the energy that he’s created,” George said.
Since Sanders took over as JSU head coach, the school has the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (it ranks 86th overall), the SWAC has signed major sponsorship deals with Pepsi — which will pay $400 million over five years — and Academy + Outdoors, and Jackson State has been getting more national exposure with six games scheduled for ESPN and ESPN2.
Sanders has landed 10 commits in his 2021 class with a three-star or better rating, including a trio of four-star commits in quarterback Shedeur Sanders (Deion’s son), cornerback De’Jahn Warren and receiver Trevonte Rucker.
The 53-year-old Sanders believes George could make a similar impact for TSU.
“I’m so excited,” Sanders told the Clarion Ledger this week. “The man that Eddie George is, forget the football player, just the man. Eddie's a good person, a football aficionado and I'm pretty sure he's going to assemble a wonderful staff.
“…This is a phenomenal move. I'm not going to say it's a trend because you have to have the understanding, the love and the passion for it. So, this is not like a fad what we're doing.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_