“In coaching you’re either elevated or terminated [...] They’re either going to run you off or you’re going to run off.” - Head Coach Deion Sanders
Earlier this week, news of Deion Sanders’ transition from head coach at Jackson State University to Head coach at University of Colorado made headlines. The news was met with mixed reviews as some see this change as a major loss for JSU and others see this as an incredible opportunity for Sanders. Here at HBCULeggings, we want to take a moment to look back at the impressive legacy he left at JSU and celebrate the bright future he has ahead.
Deion Sanders (aka Coach Prime) is known as one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL History. He played in the NFL for 14 seasons on five different teams and holds a number of records and impressive stats. After he retired from the game in 2006, Sanders worked for the NFL as an analyst before beginning his football coaching career at Triple A Academy as the head coach.
Earlier this year, HBCULeggings highlighted Coach Sanders in an article called The Goings on You Should Know About for his incredible generosity after he pledged 150K of his own salary to the Jackson State University athletic department after funds for remodeling fell short. On a recent episode of Undisputed: Skip and Shannon, Skip Bayless describes Deion Sanders as “one of the rarest human beings” reflecting on his accomplishments and continues to say, “I’ve never been around anything like him.”
Deion Sanders is responsible for some incredible progress when it comes to the Jackson State University Tigers. When he joined the team as head coach in September of 2020, there was a lot of room for development. In less than three years, he coached the team to their first SWAC Championship in 14 years, their first 10 win-season since 1996 and, most recently, an undefeated season AND spot at the 2022 Celebration Bowl as they prepare to play against the NC Central Eagles on December 17th. Even though things are shifting, Sanders isn’t slowing down. A lot is still unknown in regards to the University of Colorado Football executive team but we do know who Sanders is bringing on as his Defense Coordinator: Mike Zimmer, former coach of the Minnesota Vikings.
Many worried about the timing of Sanders’ announcement fearing that he would make his transition before the JSU Tigers had a chance to fight for the Celebration Bowl title. Sanders squashed those fears in a recorded speech he gave to his team where he formally announced his decision to leave. “I’m going to finish what we started. We’re going to dominate.” In spite of Sanders’ confronting the matter head on, he has been met with a ton of pushback. For some, he’s just leaving the JSU Tigers too soon, abandoning them before they can reach their full potential. For others, Sanders’ choice to leave a successful HBCU team for a team at a predominantly white school screams “sellout”. Regardless of what the naysayers say, there is no doubt that Sanders is a master at his craft and he knows it.
So what’s next for the Jackson State football team? We still don’t know who will be replacing Coach Sanders next season, but he made it clear that he wants his replacement to be an internal pick. As he prepares to transition away from JSU, he leaves behind him an incredible legacy of discipline and dedication, numerous records and a newfound confidence for the team. Sanders may be leaving but no one can take that away from the Jackson State Tigers. He showed them the blueprint and forged the path and they will continue to move forward.
In the midst of all this media attention and public discourse, it’s easy to lose sight of the impact a change like this has on those that are directly affected. The JSU football team and university at large are entering unknown territory and now more than ever, they need our support. Winter is coming so gift a JSU HBCU Leggings blanket to yourself (or your favorite JSU alum) to rep your school, and remember a portion of each purchase is donated back to HBCUs.