BY BRANDON KING
Tennessee State played its Homecoming game against Norfolk State in front of a crowd of 13,975. The game’s exciting conclusion, featuring a game-winning Tiger drive that held off the Spartans’ comeback bid, was missed by scores of attendees who departed shortly after halftime or remained in the parking lots.
Tennessee State head coach Eddie George was less than thrilled about the early departures and lackluster attendance at some TSU games, expressing that sentiment in his postgame press conference Saturday night.
“I’m hoping that next week we will have the same crowd that was here today. It was great, I would have loved for it to have been packed for the entire game…We have a special group [and] I want our fanbase to really embrace that,” George said.
The TSU head coach questioned if fans’ prime motivation for attending games was the team and the contests themselves, saying, “I don’t know if they really love football, I just don’t know. I have been for three years and there has only been a couple of game that they come to [with] that many people and be excited. I don’t know if they truly love the game because we are winning. I just encourage people to come out and really support our student-athletes because it makes a big difference when you are cheering on third down, making noise, [and bringing] the energy. It’s hard as coaches, hard as players to constantly build up that energy. We need our home crowd.”
George also encouraged fans to attend games that do not feature Tennessee State pitted against a fellow HBCU.
“I really would love for them to embrace us and to support us, no matter who we play. It doesn’t have to be another HBCU,” he said. “It doesn’t always have to be a party. I get it, I’ve been there, but if you’re a real fan of football and you’re supporting Tennessee State football student-athletes, come to the games.”
Despite finishing at 3-7 in 2022, Tennessee State ranked second in FCS attendance behind Jackson State, averaging 28,378 fans. This season, the Tigers are averaging 23,906, with that number being largely helped by TSU’s game against Notre Dame on September 2, which was played in front of 77,622.
Last season the Tigers’ first two home games, which were against Lane and Bethune-Cookman, drew an average of 16,892 fans. Tennessee State’s first two home games, which featured opponents Gardner-Webb and Norfolk State this season, have drawn an average crowd of 8,902.