In an occasion affectionately known as ‘Alumni Big Blue Coming Home Weekend,’ Tennessee State University alumni from across the country will return to Nashville to join the 5th annual Alvin ‘Cat’ Coleman Legend’s Weekend Friday, April 4 through Sunday, April 6. The three-day event will include a number of activities surrounding the main features, the Legend’s Game and the Blue and White Spring Game. Throughout the weekend there will also be a Big Blue 5K Run/Walk, TSU Foundation Scholarship event, Alvin ‘Cat’ Coleman Symposium along with ‘tailgate parties’ and reunion activities. The Legend’s Weekend will conclude with a Worship Service on Sunday.
The weekend kicks off at 1 pm on Friday with the Alvin ‘Cat’ Coleman Symposium in the Forum of the Floyd-Payne Campus Center, followed by registration at 3 pm in the Indoor Practice Facility.
The 8 am 5K Run sponsored by the TSU National Alumni Association begins the activities on Saturday, followed by the Legends Game at 1 pm in Hale Stadium (‘The Hole’). Players from 1950–2009 will participate in a game of flag football, with a roster of 20 players to make up each of the Legends teams. Immediately following the Legends game is the ‘Blue & White Scrimmage’ in ‘The Hole,’ featuring the schools currently enrolled football team in an intra-squad game to conclude the spring practice period. A Worship Service Sunday, April 6 at 11 am at Friendship Baptist Church, 1109 32nd Avenue, North will conclude the weekend.
The weekend is dedicated to the late Alvin ‘Cat’ Coleman, born on May 14, 1913, who passed away on November 6, 1997, at the age of 84. After college, Coleman began his career as a teacher and coach in Mississippi where he was tremendously successful in both endeavors. In the summer of 1946, he went to Jackson, Mississippi to teach zoology and biology in the science department at Jackson State College. Also, his experience as a coach made him an excellent acquisition to the staff. In 1953, John A. Merritt became head football coach at Jackson State College; in 1955, Joe Gilliam, Sr. joined the coaching staff; and in 1961, the Jackson State College coaching trio posted their first win of the SWAC conference. The very next year, in 1962, they beat Tennessee A&I State College in Nashville at their Thanksgiving Day Homecoming game and went on to win both the SWAC and the Orange Blossom Classic.
As a result of their success in 1962, Dr. Walter S. Davis, president of Tennessee A&I State College succeeded in persuading the trio of Merritt, Coleman, and Gilliam to leave Jackson State College and lead the Tennessee State football program. The solid coaching trio’s inaugural year witnessed a fantastic 6-3 season and the defeat of FAMU, which served as the catalyst for the dynasty that was to follow.
Thus, the ‘Big John Era’ in Tennessee State football was ushered in with a solid coaching trio that became a dominant force to be reckoned with for 20 years (1963–1983). Coach Coleman engineered a new offense, with pass-happy talented quarterbacks. He recruited agile wide receivers and speedy ends. This produced a dynamic lethal offensive team, using a pro-type T, with multiple sets, and a wide-open style of play. Coleman was dubbed the ‘Dean of Offense’ by his colleagues and players for his ingenuity and offensive strategy. Tennessee State’s glory days witnessed many players being sent to the National Football League (NFL). Homecoming 1980 paid tribute to the ‘Dean of Offense’ by selecting him to be honored at the homecoming game.
For more information, contact the Legend’s committee at firstname.lastname@example.org