By Mike Roberson, For The African-American Athlete
The Tennessee State University Men’s Basketball team is off to a 3-0 start, thanks to, in part, the reigning Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year.
Dana Ford, 32, is at the beginning of his third campaign as the head man of the Big Blue Hoopers.
As the youngest hired coach in Division I basketball, Ford is one of the rising stars on the bench, and the university realizing his value, extended his current contract through 2021.
The Tigers just completed a road trip to California and swept through the competition and won a historic tournament.
The 50th Annual Cable Car Classic, which has hosted great teams and players over the decades, at the Santa Clara University locale, had the Nashville based Historically Black College/University defeat UC-Davis, Northern Arizona, and the host, SCU Broncos, in succession November 11-13, 2016.
Dana’s background included being a prep star player at Egyptian High in Tamms, IL, garnering awards in Southern Land of Lincoln.
As one of the top players in Illinois, Ford had a few options at his disposal, but decided to stay in state and take his skills to Normal, IL, and sign as a Illinois State Redbird. While at ISU, Dana had a solid, but not spectacular four years of collegiate play, and when he wasn’t selected by any team in the 2006 NBA Draft, coaching seemed to be in his future.
Ford started off as a graduate assistant for Winthrop and Wichita State under the tutelage of Greg Marshall for two seasons.
In 2008, Dana became an official assistant coach with Chipola College in Florida.
After a year in the Sunshine State, he headed to the Music City and was an assistant coach at TSU under John Cooper, while unknowingly foreshadowing his future head coaching home during the two-year stint.
Next he returned back to Wichita State, this time as Greg Marshall’s assistant coach.
The following season the opportunity to return to his Alma Mater (Illinois State) as an assistant coach came to be, and Ford had a two-year Homecoming.
In 2014, eight years after the draft disappointment, Ford was invited back to the Country Music Capital of the World, but this time would be as the Head Coach of the men’s team.
His inaugural season as the top guy for the Tigers only netted five wins; however, Year 2 was an absolute 180-degree turn, as Big Blue improved by 15 games. With a 20-win season under his belt, honors and praise are enveloping him, but that also brings pressure and high expectations.
A perfect start to the 2016-17 year, and perceived job security, Coach Dana Ford has the opportunity to put his imprint on the impressive legacy of Tennessee State University Athletics.
(Michael Roberson is a columnist for The African-American Athlete, and co-host of The African-American Athlete Talk Show. He is a graduate of Tennessee State University, and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He lives in the Bay Area, where he watches the ‘Splash Brothers’ rain down threes.)