NASHVILLE – As a young man, Eddie George spent plenty of time on the campus at Tennessee State University.
A first-round pick of the Houston Oilers in 1996, George was still establishing himself back then, when the school hosted training camps for the franchise in 1997 and 1998 after the franchise relocated from Houston.
Fast-forward to now, and George is back at the school in a different capacity.
On Tuesday, George was introduced as the school's new head football coach.
"Thank you, Tiger Nation, Big Blue, for embracing me as your next head coach," George said during a press conference. "I am extremely excited about it. I am honored to be named the 22nd head coach of this university."
George knows the history of the program well, and about its 13 Black national championships.
He wants to rebuild it to national prominence.
"I have been living here for well over 24 years," George said. "The Hall of Fame coaches, like Henry Kean and Howard Gentry Sr., John A. Merritt, to Joe Gilliam Sr. Great players like Richard Dent, Claude Humphrey, NFL Hall of Famers. No.1 in HBCU in terms of putting players in the NFL. I'm very aware, extremely aware of the rich history here. I get it. So taking this job on carries a lot of weight. I have some big shoes to fill.
"But I feel like I am the man to get the job done. … I am proud to be a Tiger. Go Big Blue."
George, a Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State who was a four-time Pro Bowl running back, played nine seasons in the NFL.
At the press conference, George gave his wife, actor and singer-songwriter Taj George, credit for encouraging him to take the job.
George said he also talked with former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, head coach in Tennessee, along with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, current Titans coach Mike Vrabel and Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell about what the job might entail.
George said Fisher gave him another boost during the conversation.
"He said, "Oh Eddie, that would be great! You would be awesome!," George recalled. "Listen, Jeff drafted me in 1996. We went on an amazing run here in Tennessee and he knows how to push my buttons. When I tell you I was ready to run through a brick wall after I got off the phone with him… I said, "Let's do it!"
An accomplished entrepreneur who has spent time on Broadway, George called this opportunity a huge responsibility he doesn't take lightly.
George is excited about his new chapter.
"My goal is to get this program back to prominence, and I put my word on that," George said. "I am fully committed, totally focused on it, and I am excited to do it.
"I have no doubt I can be successful with this. Yes, we want to win championships, and we want to have banners hanging up in the rafters. But what success means to me is when a kid can come here to this college, get an education, and be prepared for life after football, after sports. Win a championship, be molded, be guided, and have a support system after and to come back to Blue Nation and be a mentor, that is success to me."