By declaration, new TSU head football coach Eddie George is “going to be innovative, creative” while remembering to have fun. (Courtesy photo, TSU)

Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George, the Ohio State University legend who played professional football for the Houston Oilers and later the Tennessee Titans, had put the aches and pains of football behind him.

He had begun developing a second career as a wealth manager.

Then came a phone call from Tennessee State University. And, after some arm twisting, George decided to take over the helm of the Tigers’ football team.

“I am excited about being named head coach at Tennessee State University,” said George. “All I have done has prepared me for this moment, whether that’s my football career, my entrepreneurial endeavors, my acting career.”

Coaching, said George, 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.”

By declaration, George is “going to be innovative, creative” while remembering to have fun.

TSU’s football team has a large Memphis presence, with eight Memphians on the roster: linebacker Lyle Lowe (Lausanne), Jordan Helton (MUS), running back Marcus Taylor (Whitehaven), cornerback Dorian George (Germantown), Kennedy Wilbert (Middle College), Joshua Phillips (Cordova), Deshound Ward (Whitehaven) and defensive lineman Devon Holmes.

TSU also has two former University of Memphis Tigers transfers on the roster – wide receiver Isaiah Owens and Devon Starling.

George has reached out to his professional friends to assist him in his first year of coaching.  He called upon his former coach Jeff Fisher to be his consultant and hired former NFL coach Hue Jackson as his offensive coordinator, along with others, who have professional coaching experience. 

He has used these relationships as a key recruitment tool to attract talent to the school.

George won the Heisman Trophy in 1995. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. 

The George-led Tigers (0-1) lost their first collegiate game last week, 10-6 to Grambling. 

Now comes the annual Southern Heritage Classic battle with Jackson State in Memphis on Saturday (Sept. 11). Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN-plus. 

TSU lost to Jackson State 49-44 in 2019, with last year’s contest cancelled because of COVID-19.

Prior to the 2019 loss, TSU had defeated JSU six consecutive times in the Classic.