Eddie George is glad Deion Sanders and Jackson State didn’t hurt the Southern Heritage Classic

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Tennessee State football coach Eddie George is happy Jackson State coach Deion Sanders and the school administrator’s decision to pull out of the Southern Heritage Classic after the 2022 game didn’t hurt the Memphis event that has been there a long time ago.

George said the Southern Heritage Classic gives his team another opportunity, like the Notre Dame game last week, to play in front of a big crowd and an opportunity for the Tennessee State coaching staff to recruit the Memphis area. Attendance for the Notre Dame game was 77,622, and the average attendance for the last five Southern Heritage Classic games was 43,293.

On Saturday, TSU (0-1) will play Arkansas at Pine Bluff (0-1), which is making its first appearance in the annual game between historically black college universities at the Simmons Bank Liberty Bowl.

“When you play in front of that many people, you feed off the energy whether you’re on the road or at home or at a neutral site like this Saturday,” George said. feel the energy. It makes a big difference when we can play in front of such a big crowd who are interested in the game of ball. It’s great for college football, it’s great for both programs and it’s great for HBCUs to have a game. Memphis. It brings a lot of income and excitement and energy to that area.”

Sanders, who coached at Jackson State before leaving in December to become Colorado’s head coach, said in September 2022 that playing in the Southern Heritage Classic “wasn’t beneficial for us, no It’s a good fit for us.” Even though Jackson State was under contract to play against TSU in the classic through 2024, school officials notified the game’s ownership group, Summit Management Corporation, that it would not play in the classic again. after 2022 due to scheduling conflicts.

Summit Management Corporation filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract, and is seeking $1.8 million from Jackson State and $5.4 million from the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The case is pending.

From TSU’s perspective, it left the future of the Southern Heritage Classic in jeopardy as it would be difficult to find another opponent for the Tigers without a win. But the organizers were able to sign Arkansas at Pine Bluff, which had an open spot on their schedule.

The school will be the first team other than TSU or JSU to play in the classic since Grambling State in 1993.

George said he and his staff are targeting the Memphis area in recruiting, and being there this weekend will give them a chance to see some of the high school players they are interested in.

“Memphis is a recruiting hotbed for us,” George said. “The last couple of years going down there, we make it a point to get out to the local high schools, watch a game or two, see some soldiers. It is very important that we have a presence there.”

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This is not the first time TSU and Arkansas at Pine Bluff – which opened the season with a 42-7 loss at Tulsa – have played in a classic. The two teams opened the 2016 season in the John Merritt Classic at Nissan Stadium in a game TSU won 44-0.

Arkansas at Pine Bluff avenged the loss in 2019, defeating the Tigers 37-31 at Hale Stadium.

Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on X, formerly Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.

This article first appeared on the Nashville Tennessean: Eddie George is glad Deion Sanders didn’t hurt the Southern Heritage Classic

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