OHIO STATE HAS always been kind to Eddie George.
The former Buckeyes running back left the university second in the program's history in rushing yards, and third in rushing touchdowns. Add 1995 Heisman Trophy winner and College Football Hall of Fame inductee to the resume and there's no doubt George is permanently etched in Ohio State folklore.
So, it comes as no surprise that George, a Philadelphia native, recently was named assistant vice president for business advancement at his alma mater.
"It feels good to go back under these circumstances," he said. "I've always been a huge supporter of Ohio State. Now this allows me to really solidify a relationship and allows me to be an ambassador and educator. It was a win-win for both parties."
While serving in his new role, George looks to integrate various departments of the university, including health and wellness, student life, alumni relations, business advancement and athletics. His initiative is to be able to utilize all resources the university has to offer and break down the barriers between each department so there is more symmetry across the institution.
"It's still being defined as I go," said George, a four-time Pro Bowl selection with the Tennessee Titans who played in the NFL for nine seasons. "I'm meeting with economic development and business management. It's really understanding the goal and development of each department, figuring out what my role is in each department and trying to bring all that together through my talents, efforts and services to the university."
George, who graduated from Ohio State with a degree in landscape architecture before going on to earn his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2009, is also utilizing his new role to serve as a mentor to student-athletes looking to advance their careers to the professional level. He hopes to take his own personal experiences and instill them into aspiring professional players, stressing the importance of education over a very lucrative, but short-term contract.
"I'm trying to create a curriculum for the student-athletes as they enter into their senior year and what they can expect if and when they go into professional sports," he said. "It's all based off my experience of playing in the NFL and what they can expect to go through based on my experience.
"Hopefully, they come away with a better plan for themselves and look at their education and value it more seriously than they would if they were to think, 'Hey, I'm just here to play football and make a million dollars in the NFL' and that's it. I want to truly prepare leaders once they're done playing and so they can always have a strong affiliation with Ohio State."
One of the many perks of his new job includes being able to use it as a means to promote the university. George also keeps busy working as an analyst for Fox Sports, where he has also worked a number of the network's nationally televised games.
George also owns a restaurant in Columbus, Eddie George's Grille 27 (his uniform number).
Before George was brought back to Ohio State and when the two sides first began talking about his return a few years back, both parties felt it was necessary to integrate his other projects into the new role. Part of their agreement was to not only factor in his supplementary projects, but have them work together.
"It gives me the flexibility to work, and to participate in other entertainment entities," George said. "In fact, it helps the profile for Ohio State that I'm out there and I'm doing all these things for marketing purposes. So it works hand in hand."
Additionally, George, who was the 1996 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after being drafted 14th in the first round of the NFL draft by the Houston Oilers, has his eye on some other television works. He currently is looking to co-produce a few non-sports-related TV programs, as long as it complies with his job at Ohio State.
George started his high school career at Abington High before transferring to Fork Union Military Academy, a private military school in Fork Union, Va. He often visits the area, keeping close ties with his family.
"I'll never cast out the opportunity to come back home," he said. "Philly will always be home."
But for now, George is not only staying focused on his new role, but enjoying himself along the way.
"I love it," he said. "It's rewarding because I'm always with Ohio State. And while I'm at Ohio State, working and going around and understanding what needs to be done, it doesn't feel like work. It feels like something I want to do, something I'm supposed to do. This is where I'm at in my life right now and this is my purpose."