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Tennessee State seeking stability, new conference says Eddie George

Tennessee State is looking for a conference with “more stability” as Eddie George says it has to look out for itself.

Could the end be in sight for the Ohio Valley Conference and Tennessee State? A new interview by head football coach Eddie George suggests so.

George recently addressed the issue of conference affiliation and had some strong words — followed by a take on what’s happening with its annual game vs. Jackson State in Memphis’s Southern Heritage Classic. 

New college football environment

“We’re going into a different time and age,” George said on the 1StarRecruits podcast. “For us now  — obviously — with Tennessee State, we are seeking to go to a conference that has more stability. The OVC —  it’s a dying conference at this point in time. But, we can continue to stay hopeful that (OVC) leadership will pick and continue to add teams. But at some point, we’re going to have to take into account our future and do what’s best for Tennessee State.”

Tennessee State has been a member of the OVC since 1986. At one time TSU was the only FCS HBCU in a non-HBCU conference. Hampton and NC A&T have since moved to the Big South Conference and are headed to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

Meanwhile, the OVC has been bleeding schools at an alarming rate. The league has lost four schools in recent months while adding two others. Clearly, this has not been lost upon George, who took over the football program less than a year ago.

Southern Heritage Classic

Over the past two weeks, Tennessee State and George have been handling a controversy about its annual date with Jackson State at the Southern Heritage Classic. After appearing to pull out of the 2022 game, Jackson State has reversed its field and decided to face TSU again this September, but does not plan to return in 2023 or 2024. George says he and JSU head coach Deion Sanders have talked about the game between the two historic HBCU programs, and they have reached some level of understanding.

“This arrangement has been in existence before we got here,” George said. “He has a unique vision for where he wants Jackson State to go, and so do I. And I get it. I’m a businessman. And when you look at the impact that he’s had from an attendance standpoint and being a draw, you want to have transparency with where every dollar goes and make sure it’s going to the right people at the right time. So I completely understand what he’s talking about. And for the foreseeable future, it might be the best thing for this thing to take a pause and let it flush out and restructure the deal, and in a very unique way.”

“We can always create opportunities down the line when the infrastructure is right,” George said. “So after this year, I think it stops and we’ll try to reconvene this opportunity in this great tradition, this great match up, later on down the line.”

Tennessee State seeking stability, new conference says Eddie George
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