Tennessee State has hired former NFL running back Eddie George as football coach, banking on his name and connections to revive the program.

TSU introduced George at a news conference Tuesday inside the Gentry Center with the band on hand to commemorate what the university hopes is a big step forward in football.

“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,” athletic director Mikki Allen said. “We are excited to have him join us and lead the next chapter of our storied football program.”

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.

He owns a landscape architecture firm. Also an actor, George has appeared on Broadway and TV. He said all that prepared him for this moment.

“Coaching is a full commitment, a duty of service,” George said. “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.”

The Tigers went 58-61 over the past 11 seasons, with only one FCS playoff appearance in 2013. Tennessee State announced Monday that coach Rod Reed’s contract was not being renewed. The Tigers have had three consecutive losing seasons, including 2-5 this spring.

When entering the coaching arena, George said he reached out to a number of former and current head coaches, looking for guidance as he made his decision.

“I come from the football world but, in terms of the business side, I was not as familiar with it,” George said on Tuesday. “So, who best to reach out to than Jeff Fisher?

“Now, I reached out to various coaches, Coach Mike Tomlin at Pittsburgh, reached out to (Tennessee Titans coach) Mike Vrabel, I reached out to (Cincinnati coach) Luke Fickell. Reached out to guys both in the professional ranks and college ranks to understand what are their day-to-day jobs, to truly get a grasp of their duties, outside of the field. Because that’s where you win, you win with administration, you win with the culture that’s set from leadership.”

George said his biggest supporter was his mento, former Tennessee Titans, and Los Angeles Rams head coach, Jeff Fisher.

“Having Jeff has been invaluable,” George continued. “He’s really has gone out of his way to guide me, to teach me, to show me all the blind spots, things to think about – away from the field. In terms of running things efficiently and setting up your camps and all the stuff that you need to do to present the package for the players, and so forth. So that’s been huge.

“And the thrill of it has been, honestly is reconnecting with Jeff in this capacity. He was been my coach, now he’s my mentor, helping me become a coach. And to talk about our days together and come into Tennessee and the stories that we shared has prepared me for this moment. I mean we were just recollecting on a few things a couple of days ago and it’s been awesome working with him in this capacity.”

Additional reporting by Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice

Screen capture from video by Tennessee State Athletics

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