The Tennessee State football team boasts a rich history that can only be matched by a select handful of others.
TSU is, of course, an HBCU and played primarily against its peers up until joining the Ohio Valley Conference in 1988. Prior to the move, the Tigers built up quite a resume playing against HBCUs, and have continued their winning ways up until today. In fact, TSU is 10-2 over the last three years against other Black Colleges.
Heading into 2015, TSU has posted 543 wins in program history, a mark that ranks fourth among HBCUs. Only Southern, Bethune-Cookman and Hampton have more.
The Tigers have a 391-141-19 record against other HBCUs and have beat up on Florida A&M (28 wins), Southern (27) and Jackson State (26) the most. The 28 victories over FAMU includes TSU’s current four-game winning streak.
Big Blue also has the second-most Black College National Championships with 12. The squad earned its first in 1946 and its most previous in 2013.
In between the first and last titles, legendary coach John Merritt patrolled the sidelines and added seven Championships. “Big John” finished his career with 235 career wins and four undefeated seasons.
Players flourished under the direction of Merritt, as he sent many Tigers to the professional level including Pro Football Hall of Famers Richard Dent and Claude Humphrey.
Current TSU head coach Rod Reed has continued in Merritt’s tradition, and TSU has had more prospects taken in the NFL Draft in the last two years (four) than any other HBCU.
The Tigers will square off against three HBCUs this upcoming season including Alabama State in the John Merritt Classic on Sept. 6, Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic on Sept. 12 and Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Fla. on Sept. 26.
Check out a graphical representation of TSU's HBCU history, below.