Throughout his tenure at Jackson State University Deion Sanders has often been the talk of the college football world. This season he is a top candidate for national Coach-of-The-Year honors in FCS for the year his team is having at Jackson State. They are currently undefeated (11-0) and the favorite going into next Saturday’s SWAC title game against Southern. If they win that and the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta against the MEAC champ, Sanders squad would have completed a perfect season.
Now in his third year at JSU, Sanders’ record going into the SWAC title game is 26-5. That coupled with his Hall of Fame playing career and major broadcasting and commercial pitchman success, has made Sanders one of the nation’s most magnetic personalities. It’s also inevitably attracted interest from various mainstream and Power 5 schools, and this week a story broke in the Athletic that the University of Colorado had offered Sanders its head coaching position and that he had “legitimate interest.”
Sanders interviewed for the head coaching job at his alma mater Florida State before he interviewed at JSU. He was reportedly a finalist for the Florida State job, but ultimately didn’t get it, supposedly because he lacked head coaching experience. But he had gone into what was a bad situation at JSU and turned things totally around, both recruiting wise and on the field. Jackson State has the number one defense in all of FCS, and his roster includes Travis Hunter, the player who was the top rated high school recruit in the. nation last year. It astounded some people that Sanders could attract an athlete of Hunter’s caliber, but that’s a big part of his appeal, being able to connect with young people who only know him through commercials.
Should he take the Colorado job, he’s going into a situation where there’s no way to go except up. They have only had two winning season over the last decade. They just fired their current coach Karl Dorrell last month after they began the season 0-5. The interesting thing is it wouldn’t be quite the big deal at Colorado to hire a Black head coach, especially since the last one was Black.
Colorado athletic director Rick George was quoted saying he wanted to have a new coach in place before Dec. 5/ If Sanders is truly interested and wants to take the job it would mean departing his players in the midst of their historic season and before they completed a possible perfect year.
My gut feeling is Sanders won’t take the Colorado job, because it is not really the job he wants. But if he takes the job and subsequently enjoyed the same success as he’s had at JSU, it could revive the schools’ fortunes. But it is not an SEC or BIG 10 school, and nor is it Sanders’ alma mater. The smart money is betting he remains at JSU for at least another couple of years and will be back on their sidelines in the fall.
There has always been a side debate swirling around Sanders in HBCU circles, and the Colorado flirtation has rekindled a lot of the negative talk that was heard when he first took the job. For many HBCU lifers, Sanders is a media hog and prima donna, sometone who either doesn’t fully respect and understand the HBCU tradition and way of doing things, or just doesn’t care. Periodically you hear the question raised “Is He SWAC?”
My response would be he’s not because he went to Florida State, but the SWAC should be eternally grateful that Deion Sanders came to Jackson State. He’s provided them with rams of publicity, exposure and coverage culminating a few weeks ago with an interview on “60 Minutes.”
If he leaves this week, he’s done wonders at JSU in a short time period and should be thanked for it. If he stays, he’s fully prepared to duplicate this great year next season.