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Deion Sanders wins more than most, but this weekend proved to hit different, even for the Pro Football Hall of Famer.
After Sanders led his Jackson State Tigers to defeat Southern University 43-24 in the Cricket SWAC Championship game on Saturday, he shortly after announced he would be taking the open head coaching job at Colorado, where the Buffaloes roamed to a putrid 1-11 during the 2022 season.
For Sander’s squad, Jackson State (12-0) won its 18th SWAC Championship and clinched a berth in the Cricket Celebration Bowl. It is the first back-to-back SWAC titles for JSU since 1995-96.
Sanders, named as the 21st head coach in the history of JSU football on September 21, 2020, led the Tigers in dominating fashion in his first game (53-0) on February 21, 2021. After arriving in style, Sanders kept that same energy throughout his time in Jackson.
— Joe Cook WAPT (@JoeCookSports) September 21, 2020
Deion Sanders uplifted HBCU culture
After the 2020 racial reckoning sparked by the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, many Americans decided to march in unison towards a country where “Black lives matter” would be less of a slogan and more of a reality. Sanders decided he would give back in his own way.
Widely regarded as one of, if not the greatest cornerback in NFL history after enjoying a 14-year career in the league, his larger-than-life personality captivated audiences during his playing days and the eyes haven’t stopped watching yet.
With viewership for the first two games surpassing more than 200,000 online views on ESPN3, in Fall 2021, Sanders led Jackson State back to championship glory with a school-record 11-win season and the first Southwestern Athletic Conference football championship since 2007. JSU went undefeated in conference play (8-0) and won nine consecutive games to complete the regular season en route to the SWAC Championship and the program’s first-ever berth in the Celebration Bowl.
After revealing he had two toes amputated on his left foot since being diagnosed with life-threatening blood clots following a surgery in 2021, Sander’s health is back on track. Mind willing and body able, he’s let his new players know he intends to only coach the very best — and if that’s not them — they can kick rocks.
Not even a day into the new role, Sanders has already encouraged current Colorado players to enter the transfer portal if they aren’t ready to change the football program’s losing trajectory. And for good reason, because where Sanders goes, others follow.
This weekend, wide receiver Robert Lockhart III, offensive tackle Jordan Hall and defensive back Twan Wilson announced they’re 100% open to new recruitments after previously committing to Jackson State and learning of Sander’s exit.
— Robert Christian Lockhart III (@RLockhart2023) December 4, 2022
Deion Sanders is bringing son, Sheuder, along to be Colorado starting QB
During the press conference on Sunday, Sanders revealed his son Sheuder, currently a freshman, will be joining him in Boulder, Colorado, as the Buffaloes’ new QB.
In Saturday’s SWAC Championship victory, Shedeur was named Offensive MVP after passing for 320 yards and four touchdowns.
He introduced his son, saying, “This is your starting quarterback. He’s going to have to earn it though.”
All was good with Coach Prime at the presser, even as his departure from an HBCU to a Predominantly White Institution seemed to rub some the wrong way.
Deion sanders is amazing ?? pic.twitter.com/n19DK4Vxp7
— Shannonnn sharpes Burner (PARODY Account) (@shannonsharpeee) December 4, 2022
Everybody mad at Deion Sanders. He’s helped JSU, set attendance records, new practice fields, new locker rooms, Under Armor endorsements deal. Countless other things. You leave places better than you found it. He did that. He’s done a lot for HBCU Football in 3 years.
— Coach J. Foster (@CoachFrost12) December 4, 2022
Jackson State set an FCS record for attendance in Fall 2021, averaging more than 42,000 fans per home game.
Coach Sanders was named SWAC Coach of the Year, FCS Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year, BOXTOTOW National Coach Of The Year, and Black College Hall of Fame Coach Of the Year in 2021.
The influence of Coach Prime has directly impacted Jackson State football, as several of the nation’s best players have made their way into the program. University of Florida transfer James Houston IV was a dominant player for JSU in 2021, earning All-SWAC and All-America accolades as he ranked second in the nation in both sacks (16.5) and tackles for loss (24.5). In Spring 2022, Houston became the 100th NFL Draft selection in the illustrious history of the Jackson State University football program, selected in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions.
Deion Sanders advocated for a new football stadium at JSU
Coach Prime’s golden touch was felt in Jackson ever since his arrival in 2020, and after uplifting not only the football team, but the city of Jackson, Sander’s departure will surely leave a financial deficit on the capital of Mississippi.
When he took the head coaching job, Sander’s football mind was thinking of safety’s and fumbles, not sinks and faucets. Yet, he was able to continue winning even as the decrepit water infrastructure in the city of Jackson forced his team to relocate in the middle of the season.
Deion Sanders aka Coach Prime hopes to provide an escape to families in Jackson, Miss., dealing with the Jackson Water Crisis, during Sunday’s game between Jackson State and Florida A&M in the HBCU Orange Blossom Classic in Miami. @DeionSanders #jxnwatercrisis pic.twitter.com/uPxIjHig7D
— Safid Deen ???? (@Safid_Deen) September 2, 2022
Recently, Coach Prime had dropped hints that his days at Jackson State were numbered. In October, he told Jon Wertheim of 60 Minutes he’s “gonna have to entertain it” if a Power Five administrator reached out regarding a potential vacancy.
“I’m gonna have to entertain it. Straight up,” he said. “I’d be a fool not to.”
“What happens when a Power 5 school says: Give us a number — we’ll make it work?'”@DeionSanders: “I’m gonna have to entertain it.”
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 17, 2022
Though his undeniable contribution to HBCU culture will be hard to replace, all will not be sad to see Sanders leave.
In early October, Alabama State head coach Eddie Robinson Jr. told reporters that Sanders “ain’t SWAC” after being asked about dismissively pushing Coach Prime during the postgame handshake.
After beating Alabama State during their Homecoming, Coach Prime responded with his trademark humility, while endearing himself to his player’s effortlessly. Even Snoop Dogg got in on it.
Early Morning Vibes pic.twitter.com/7oCZo93fJU
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) October 11, 2022
Deion Sanders has a raise coming
Sanders’ deal with Colorado is for five years at $29.5 million, which is an average of $5.9 million per year, per Brian Howell of Buffzone. Sanders will make $5.5 million in year one, and will earn $200,000 raises each year over the life of the contract.
The pay for Sanders far exceeds that of former coach Karl Dorrell, who was paid $3.6 million this season. The $3.6 million that Dorrell earned was previously the most Colorado had ever paid a head coach.
— Colorado Buffaloes Football (@CUBuffsFootball) December 4, 2022
On Sunday, Colorado athletic director Rick George spoke candidly about the richest deal in the history of the football program. “We don’t have the money yet, but I know we’ll have it so I’m not worried about that piece.”
Sports Illustrated reports that while George wasn’t ready to make public the method through which the school will pay Sanders, it does sound like there is some funding lined up for the new coach that will be finalized soon.
Wait, so Deion Sanders salary was $1.2 Million oveeeer 4 years which is $300K a year and he gave half away to improve the facilities… And people are mad he’s taking $5 Million a year over $300K. Bye. pic.twitter.com/ixmjJH9TSR
— Vada_Fly (@Vada_Fly) December 4, 2022
Sanders went 27–5 in his three seasons at Jackson State at the FCS level, which was his first collegiate coaching position. The Tigers will play in the Celebration Bowl against North Carolina Central on Dec. 17 in Atlanta, and Sanders confirmed that he will coach the bowl for Jackson State in his final game with the school.