COMMENTARY: Is Eddie Ready?

“Leadership and being a head coach is about service and serving others and I am at a place in my life where I am ready to do just that and whatever comes along with that, I am ready to deal with it because my goal is to get this program back to prominence. I put my word on that.”

This was just one quote from new Tennessee State University (TSU) head football coach and former Tennessee Titan Eddie George as he spoke to media during his introductory press conference. The shock is still with many and initially with George, he was shocked to be reached out to about the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) head football coach position. After talking to his wife and his head coach with the Titans, Jeff Fisher, he began to ease towards the idea of becoming a college head coach and here we are now. Eddie was fearless on the field and seems ready to attack this job full speed ahead, but is he the right man for this job and is he truly ready?

The first thing that comes about when it comes to George is his head coaching experience or coaching experience in general. As many had stated previously, he has never coached before. Plenty are holding it over his head and thinking that he will fail because of it. Well, I wonder if people recognize that coaching experience doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to succeed. A prime example of that is Alen Embree. He was an assistant coach at Colorado from 1993-2002 and took over for Dan Hawkins. Embree went 4-21 and he was never heard of again as a head coach. This isn’t the only scenario, there are plenty more of them with collegiate assistants trying to be head coaches. Like Embree, there are plenty of losing coaches that had no idea what they were doing as head coaches despite the experience of being a head coach.

Coaching experience does not mean you will be a good head coach, but one thing that does help any new head coach is leadership ability. Eddie George has been a leader wherever he has been, whether he was playing at Ohio State, with the Tennessee Titans, or on Broadway. When he speaks, he commands everyone there and that type of leadership and command will be something that can serve him well as a head coach and especially being able to mold young men.

The biggest and most key component in all besides his coaching is his recruiting. George spoke of how he watched the excitement Deon Sanders was able to create at HBCU Jackson State and if he was also paying attention, he noticed how he was able to recruit players based off his experience and expertise at the NFL level. While George is not as flashy and doesn’t have the personality Deon Sanders has, he does have the same NFL experience. He and Deon can offer something not many college coaches can’t offer, and that is the insight to get to the next level, which some players aspire to do. For running backs especially, he would be an encyclopedia of knowledge.

Plenty will harp on Eddie’s lack of experience and he admittedly has some things to learn about coaching. One thing you cannot question is the knowledge he brings to the game as a former NFL football player and his ability to be a leader. Those two things along with some recruiting could take the Tennessee State Tigers to the next level. George said he is at TSU to bring the program back to prominence and although he isn’t the conventional hire for Tennessee State, he could definitely be the right one for what they need. So, while he may not appear to be ready experience-wise as a coach, he has other intangibles that could make him a great coach and potentially lead the Tigers back to taking over the Ohio Valley Conference.

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