The floodgates to the coaching ranks of historically Black colleges and universities may be opening wide for former NFL stars.
Jackson State hired Deion Sanders last September, and Tennessee State announced the arrival of Eddie George as its next head coach Tuesday. Sanders explained how others have signaled interest as well.
"Guys like Ray Lewis, I know who's tremendously interested, Ed Reed are certainly guys that I truly know are interested in the love, the game and love kids," the Hall of Famer said to Rashad Milligan of the Clarion Ledger. "This could be a phenomenal thing."
Lewis expressed a desire to coach one day in 2017 but has yet to work in a head coaching or assistant role. Miami hired Reed as its chief of staff in January 2020, a role that includes "strategic planning, quality control, operations, player evaluation and player development."
Sanders didn't have a wealth of experience before taking over at Jackson State. He had briefly served as offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas. Under his watch, the Tigers are 3-3 during the FCS spring football season.
Sanders' decision to coach Jackson State came amid a renewed focus on growing the athletic programs of HBCUs. Once Division I programs began opening their doors to more Black players, HBCUs were unable to attract talent that was otherwise getting overlooked, which caused a domino effect.
The Atlantic's Jemele Hill wrote in October 2019 that more elite high school recruits should consider attending HBCUs to help bring more attention to those schools.
Having prominent NFL legends coach HBCUs isn't necessarily the same thing but could help achieve the goal Hill laid out if those legends prove to be equally adept on the sideline.