Eddie George Echoes Deion Sanders And Ed Reed In Frustration With HBCUs, Emphasizes The Difference In His Approach To Change

Conversation surrounding Historically Black Colleges and Universities have seen a significant uptick over the course of the last three years, and Eddie George is chiming in. However, where some of his NFL counterparts have entered the HBCU ranks with boisterous voice, the former Heisman Trophy winner is more calculated and analytical.

George was hired as the head football coach at Tennessee State in April of 2021, but Deion Sanders dominated headlines while at Jackson State. Now, in his first month at Bethune-Cookman, it is Ed Reed who is in the spotlight.

George continues to fly under the radar, more or less. That is intentional.

Sanders is no longer in Mississippi, but continues to speak about his time in Jackson after taking the head coaching job at Colorado. He is passionate about financial solvency and overall transparency within HBCU leadership.

Reed also took an offensive approach to the change he wants to see at HBCUs.

Meanwhile, in Nashville, Eddie George is also frustrated.

George's frustration stems from two sides:

During a recent conversation with the Rise & Grind Podcast, George explained his stance.

And you know, it’s frustrating. You know, he didn’t understand exactly what he was getting himself into. And when you get under the hood and you really see what’s going on, and you do see the mold in the apartments, you see the mold in the dorm rooms, you see the facilities, the locker room is not the best.
It’s not clean. It’s all those things. But guess what? That’s why you’re there and I choose to do it through action. You know, I choose to do it through you know, hey, let me roll up my sleeves and get in front of these people. Corporations, the (school) president, you know, the politicians and say basically what are we doing here?

George is entering his third season as the head football coach of the Tigers. His team has yet to win more than five games, but Tennessee State showed signs of improvement and it's bigger than football.

The former Tennessee Titans running back wants to develop a plan to move the university forward.

Here it is 2023 and it looks like these buildings are still in the 1950s. It has the same mold on it when I was there because we actually — the Tennessee Titans — we stayed on campus (for training camp) at Tennessee State at some of those dorms. So it’s not a place where you know, you can take great pride in because there’s no plan to move forward. And if this is the problem, then what is the plan to make it better?

Eddie George is motivated to "make this work."

Eriq George, Eddie's son, recently committed to play for his father. The school does not have plans to move on from its head coach after just a few seasons. He, and the university, are in it for the long haul.

I’ve got to see that change happen. So it’s much bigger than just football. It’s just providing a quality of life that these students absolutely deserve. You know, getting their Pell grant money on time. You know, making sure that they’re well fed. All these things have to change, you know, and the football games are one thing, but the quality of life and the experience that the education that this provides for our students for years to come is much more important.

Tennessee State's transformation can be accelerated if it can secure a large sum of money that is owed by the state. A report from the Office of Legislative Budget Analysis showed that the state of Tennessee may have underfunded the university for decades.

It may owe anywhere between $151 million and $544 million in land-grant funding. Governor Bill Lee has said that he wants to give the university $250 million to "improve physical infrastructure.

George understands what an impact that money would have on Tennessee State. He also wants to be sure that the school spends it the right way.

Ultimately, Sanders, Reed and George share the same sentiments. Their approaches, though, are different. Where Sanders and Reed swaggered onto the HBCU scene, George is taking a step back and focusing on a cerebral, calculated way forward.