The Sporting Life: TSU fall football update

Look elsewhere for a recap of the Tennessee State University Tigers spring game and information about players who may contribute to the team’s success this fall. This column is an update of my article last week previewing that game which layed out the fall schedule as known at press time mid-week last week. After we went to press, TSU released updated information about the schedule that cleared up two of the three unknowns (except for kickoff times / most still to be determined) at the time. Still to be determined is the site for the mid-September rivalry renewal with the Rattlers of Florida A & M University who may host that game wherever they negotiate. My personal hope of hopes is that the delay is to secure the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta following the release of the NFL Falcons schedule next week.

TSU Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips announced last week the addition of Virginia University of Lynchburg to the Tigers 2017 football schedule. The Big Blue will face the Dragons on Nov. 4 at Hale Stadium as part of TSU’s 11-game slate. The season begins with a trip to Atlanta, Ga. for a contest with FBS opponent Georgia State on Thursday, Aug. 31, at the former Turner Field.

“Our traditional Labor Day weekend opening plans were adjusted in order to play a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent,” Phillips said. “Playing the Panthers provides us with the opportunity to garner high visibility for our athletic program and the university as a whole, as well as provide us with additional revenue.”

Phillips also disclosed that the 2017 John Merritt Classic will be the TSU home opener on Sept. 30 when the Tigers take on Eastern Illinois at Nissan Stadium. Phillips also stated that teams have been secured for the John Merritt Classic for the next two years.

“We have secured Bethune-Cookman and Hampton for the John Merritt Classic for the 2018 and 2019 seasons,” Phillips commented.

Next year, following a season opener with Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 1, 2018, TSU will travel to Memphis to face Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic then travel east to face Hampton. The Tigers then begin Ohio Valley Conference play, stepping out once for a trip to Vanderbilt in their final non-conference game. In 2019, the Tigers will host Hampton, who will make their first appearance in the John Merritt Classic on Aug. 31 at Nissan Stadium.

Tennessee State University Fall 2017 Football Schedule (Times yet to be set)

AUG 31at Georgia StateAtlanta, Ga. (former Turner Field)
SEP 9vs Jackson State (Southern Heritage ClassicMemphis, TN (Liberty Bowl)
SEP 16vs Florida A&MTBA
SEP 23at UT MartinMartin, TN
SEP 30Eastern Illinois (John Merritt ClassicNashville, TN (Nissan Stadium)
OCT 7at Eastern KentuckyRichmond, Ky.
OCT 14Austin Peay (Homecoming)Nashville, TN (Nissan Stadium*)
OCT 21OPEN (no game)
OCT 28at Tennessee TechCookeville, TN
NOV 4Virginia University of LynchburgNashville, TN (Hale Stadium)
NOV 11Southeast MissouriNashville, TN (Hale Stadium)
NOV 16at Jacksonville StateJacksonville, Ala

REVISED as of April 6, 2017
(* Likely location)