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TSU Football holds John Merritt Classic Press Conference
Thursday, July 15, 2010


Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State University Department of Athletics sparked the 2010 football season holding a press conference at LP Field to promote the 12th Annual John Merritt Classic (JMC).

The press conference on Thursday morning was hosted by Channel 5's Sports Director and long time friend of John Merritt, Hope Hines.  Also joining the master of ceremony were TSU's Director of Athletics, Teresa Phillips, and head football coach Rod Reed; along with Alabama A&M University Director of Athletics, Betty K. Austin, joined by AAMU head coach Anthony Jones.

The press conference returns after being canceled last season due to budget constraints, but, TSU administration admits the gathering to promote the Classic is valuable to its success.

"It (JMC press conference) makes a lot of difference and you are always going to look at resource issues," said TSU Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips. "We should not have ever canceled it. We looked again and said it was to significant to add to the excitement."

The John Merritt Classic will be held on September 4th, at LP Field with a 6 p.m. kick-off. Not only is the Classic significant to the memory of legendary Tiger Football head coach, John A. Merritt, it will serve as the first career game as a head coach for Rod Reed.

"I am sure when that time comes the butterflies are going to hit a little bit and we will let the chips fall where they may," added Coach Reed. "You say that it may not have an impact but it's ironic that my first game is probably one of the biggest home games of the season."

The John Merritt Classic, first played in 1999, honors John A. Merritt, the legendary TSU football coach who led the Tigers from 1963 - 1983. During 21 seasons, "Big John" won four undisputed national championships among historically black colleges ranked by the Sheridan Poll, compiled a lifetime record of 172-33-1, and built a powerful program that produced NFL stars like Richard Dent (Chicago Bears), "Jefferson Street" Joe Gilliam (Pittsburgh Steelers), Ed "Too Tall" Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Claude Humphrey (Atlanta Falcons) and many others.

The JMC, one of three football Classics solely hosted by a single NCAA FCS institution, is intended to allow Tennessee State to raise funds for scholarships and other related needs for TSU students. The Classic also provides an opportunity for community outreach with its weekend of activities.