Tennessee State head coach Eddie George joined Deion Sanders and Jamie Dukes on the “21st and Prime” podcast to address his plans as he takes over the program.
Speaking candidly and at length for the first time since being hired as head coach last month, George touched on a wide variety of topics. He went into detail about how Tennessee State officials approached him regarding the job and his initial reluctance to consider, how he reached out to NFL coaches for advice, and his plan to revive the program.
George first addressed how he went from businessman and performing arts to a college coach.
“I get a call from Glenda Glover the president of Tennessee State who I already have a business working relationship with my wealth management company,” said George, who was under the impression that the school would ask for a donation.
The phone call quickly turned into a proposition of something even greater — an unprompted offer to coach.
“I looked at the phone and thought, ‘That’s why y’all keep losing because y’all realize I’ve never coached,'” joked George. “I put the phone down and said, ‘That’s some BS right there. They are trying to do the whole Prime Time thing.’ Prime (Sanders) coached. He’s has a coaching background. He’s been doing it for a while at the high school level, so he’s well-positioned to do that.”
After mulling over the prospect with his family, George said he reached out to the likes of current NFL and college coaches such as Mike Tomlin, Herm Edwards, Mike Vrabel, and Luke Fickle to “give me a fresh perspective” on what he was getting himself into.
On April 11, it was reported that Tennessee State had named him the school’s next football coach.
“Sometimes it takes for somebody to see something in you that you don’t see yourself,” said George. “And I had to listen to that honor that and go through the exercise of, ‘Okay, if I’m going to do it, what does it look like so I did my due diligence.'”
And that work, said George, was to perform an accounting of what the football program needed to compete not only in the Ohio Valley Conference but on a national level, too.
That included looking at the budgets of FCS powers James Madison and North Dakota State, schools he referred to as “the standard” to determine where Tennessee State stood.
George has developed what he described as a 30, 60, 90-day plan where he will evaluate the program from an outsider’s perspective before making any grand declarations.
“I want to go in and listen and understand first what’s needed,” said George, who has lived in the Nashville area for nearly a quarter-century. “Who are the valuable people who give me information and help me navigate through this business and opportunity.
“It’s a different culture. I have to embrace and honor that and show appreciation for that.”
George, who has various pro football and business connections, was asked how can those relationships cultivated over the years help Tennessee State in the immediate future.
He reached out to NFL executive Troy Vincent for guidance prior to taking the job and learned that a partnership could be forged.
And he said, ‘Just FYI if you go down this path, these are things that we can help you with,'” said George. “In terms of infrastructure, in terms of equipment; see what’s needed — do a quick hard audit of the things that you need in the first 30 days and we’ll help provide that.”
Not lost on George was that his team will face Sanders as an opponent on Sept. 11. It will be George’s second-ever game as head coach following the season opener versus Grambling State on Sept. 3.
The game, he said, will be something he “looks forward to” and one he hopes will bring national attention to HBCUs.
“I see this vision of having (ESPN College) Gameday in Memphis talking about the respective schools and respective programs,” said George. “Talking about Eddie Robinson and some of the great coaches in HBCU history and 70,000 fans being in the stands.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to highlight the programs and highlight the universities and what they’re known for.”