COOKEVILLE – In the short time Dewayne Alexander has been the head football coach at Tennessee Tech, it is apparent that the momentum is shifting in a positive direction. From 2019’s turnaround to the community service effort and academic excellence, Alexander is building the young men of the Golden Eagle program today into leaders for tomorrow.
The Golden Eagle Way looms large at Tucker Stadium and it means much, much more than just what happens on the field. With the performance and improvement shown over these two-and-a-half-years, it was an easy decision to extend Alexander’s contract through the end of 2024.
“I certainly love Tennessee Tech,” Alexander said. “It’s an honor to be the head football coach here and represent our current players, our alumni, this great university. Having been a student-athlete here and an assistant coach numerous times, being the head coach here is very special. To have the opportunity to continue to lead the Golden Eagles and to have the faith in me to lead the program is very special.”
Alexander’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by the administration.
“It is truly amazing to see how Dewayne Alexander has handled this program so far,” said Tech Director of Athletics Mark Wilson. “He put together a team that everyone connected to Tennessee Tech can be proud of. In a short time, he has brought a great group of guys here and continues to shape them into leaders in their communities as well as men with exemplary character. His leadership is outstanding, and I am confident that these Golden Eagles will continue to soar to new heights.”
While the work on the field is the largest piece, there is an impressive body of work Alexander accomplished off the field.
As he became the new head coach of the Tennessee Tech football program in 2017, Alexander set forth to bring the Tennessee Tech traditions and sense of community back into the program. He made it a focus to increase alumni support and bring so many who had drifted away back into the fold. Those efforts paid off huge dividends with the two most recent TTU Football Alumni Reunion Weekend and Golf Classics, which pooled together some of the largest fields in its 30-year history.
As the program adopted The Golden Eagle Way as its creed, it has impacted so many areas. In community service, the Tech football team has put in countless hours in projects as wide-ranging as The Wall That Heals traveling exhibit for the Vietnam War Memorial, Rich Froning’s Mustard Seed Mayhem for the Mustard Seed Ranch and helping out with beautification efforts at schools in the Upper Cumberland, as well as outreach and reading projects at those schools.
Most recently, following the tornadoes that struck Cookeville and Putnam County on March 3, the Tech football team was out in force, helping distribute supplies to those affected, as well as participating in the clean-up effort.
Academically, the Golden Eagle football team has seen great improvement. This past semester alone, the Tech gridders compiled a 3.12 grade point average – the highest for the team since 1971 – with 75 student-athletes posting a 3.0 or better GPA – 10 with a 4.0 GPA – and 68 student-athletes on the Dean’s List.
“That is a key component – when we recruit student-athletes to Tennessee Tech, we want to recruit young men who want to be developed as a person,” Alexander said. “They want to grow as a human being, develop character, community leadership and servant leadership skills – all to make them the best player and person they can be. It’s been really exciting to see how our guys have bought into that and the strides they have made in those areas.
“I’ve never really been as excited in all my years as a head coach to lead this team. I really like this team. I like what they’ve done as a group on and off the field. I’m really looking forward to seeing what this group can do.”
It all comes back to “The Golden Eagle Way.”
“It’s something we stress daily,” Alexander said. “It’s what we do, and we don’t back down from it. Even in recruiting, we let the recruits and their families know what we’re about here. Our recruits get around our players and they sense that. This is more than just football. It’s a family thing and it’s an all-in thing, a 24-7 thing. It’s not just Saturday for three hours. It’s how we go about our day-to-day effort. We’ve had record-breaking semesters academically, we’ve had several guys recognized by the OVC, we’ve won the Team Sportsmanship Award from the OVC two years in a row.
“It recognizes that these guys do things right. They carry themselves well, carry themselves right and they play the game the right way. I’ve said it from day one – you take care of those things off the field, the scoreboard takes care of itself. We’ve definitely seen that – we’ve been very competitive and seen a lot of positive results. We’re now at the point we can make strides in all of those areas.”
Following a 1-10 start in 2018, the Golden Eagles’ campaign in 2019 was one to remember. With a thrilling start on a 59-58 double-overtime victory over Samford, Tech won four of its first five games in route to a 6-6 record – the team’s most wins since the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference championship. Ten individual and eight team records were set, 11 players received in-season or postseason honors and five were named to the 2020 Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference team on Monday – the most for the team since 2001.
Without a doubt, what Alexander and his staff are doing is indeed working.
“I certainly feel like we’re building a strong foundation,” Alexander said. “From the recruiting aspect to managing our team to developing the locker room culture the way we want it, the personality of the team – all of those foundational things that we’re trying to get accomplished. We’re starting to see a lot of those coming to fruition.
“It’s like the big buildings you see here on campus. We saw the new fitness center from beginning to end, the laboratory science building and things of that nature. To see the project when it started, you couldn’t see anything, just dust and a lot of stuff behind a fence. You didn’t know what that was going to be. Over the course of months, years, you start seeing it coming out of the ground and you see what was going on. There was a lot of time spent on the foundation built.”
Alexander continued, “We have certainly done that here with our program. We’re starting to see it come out of the ground. We’re starting to see positives and glimpses of what it can be. I still see it as one of these buildings under construction. We have an idea and believe that this thing’s going to be really good. We just have to see it continue to grow.”
To do that, there’s plenty of tending to do and pieces to put together with the already established core.
“We have another outstanding recruiting class coming in,” Alexander said. “We have a really good core of returning players. We still have a young team with a good mixture of everything. I still feel really good about this team and the staff additions that we have made. Our program is on the rise and I think our opponents feel the same way as well.”
Season tickets for the 2020 Tennessee Tech Football season are on sale now. Call (931) 372-3940 or visit TTUsports.com to order.