Hey, HBCU family! You read that right, it seems like Jackson State University’s Head Coach Deion Sanders is on a mission to restore black college football, and we believe he is just the man that could bring some hope back to the sport.
At first, it was believed to be just a publicity stunt. But no, ma’am, and no, sir. This is real.
Coach “Prime Time” indeed! is on a mission. Take the $12 million in media exposure JSU has estimated to receive since signing up Sanders for the position, according to the black college, for example, or the sweatshirts with a depiction of tiger streaks all over it and three letters crawling across the ball caps at a local Dick’s Sporting Goods that are flying off the racks too.
“Usually, Jackson State apparel is located toward the back of the store,” writes Ross Dellenger at Sports Illustrated in a piece called “’I Want to Restore HBCU Football’: Deion Sanders and Jackson State Take the Plunge”, adding, “Not today.”
From Sports Illustrated:
“On the outskirts of Mississippi’s capital city, customers entering a Dick’s Sporting Goods are greeted by a rack of apparel belonging to one of the state’s college football programs.
The rack is full of blue and white hats and shirts, not red and blue for the Ole Miss Rebels or maroon and white for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The depiction of a tiger streaks across sweatshirts and three letters crawl across the ball caps: J-S-U.
Usually, Jackson State apparel is located toward the back of the store. Not today.
“We put it in the front after the announcement,” says Josh Eide, a 40-year-old store staff member.
The Dick’s Sporting Goods is located in a giant shopping center in a suburb of Jackson called Flowood, a mostly affluent, white area outside of a predominantly Black city. Eide says Jackson State merchandise is flying off the racks since the school announced the hire of its new head coach: Deion Sanders. In fact, Eide himself is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Sanders-themed apparel branded with the coach’s self-coined moniker: Coach Prime.
“I’m sure it’s on the way,” Eide says. “I’ll be buying my jersey.”
The ripple effect of Sanders’s stunning hire as the new head coach of this historically Black college football program has already made its way across Jackson, the state of Mississippi and the country. The school estimates it has received $12 million in media exposure. For instance, Sanders has been featured on television shows such as Good Morning America.
Donations to the school are spiking. On the opening day of season ticket sales last Thursday, hundreds of people formed a line that wrapped around the team’s football stadium. Enrollment is seeing an impact, too, with interest from students who wouldn’t normally consider the school, JSU leaders say.
The Deion effect has even extended to the headquarters of the Southwestern Athletic Conference in Birmingham, where commissioner Charles McClelland has fielded calls from television producers about filming a reality show featuring Sanders and Jackson State.
“The SWAC,” McClelland says, “is on peoples’ minds.”
In an unprecedented hire in college football history, Sanders brings to Jackson State zero college coaching experience and millions of college football eyeballs. Widely known for his skills during a 14-season NFL career, the former cornerback and return man, dubbed “Prime Time” by his peers, has spent his post-playing days coaching at the high school level and, most notably, dabbling in the media world—a gregarious analyst on NFL Network and CBS Sports who most recently signed a deal as a contributor for the outlet Barstool Sports. In fact, Sanders has his own podcast on their network, 21st and Prime.
While acknowledging the hire was made in part for media exposure, Thomas Hudson, JSU’s acting president, says the attention has exceeded even his lofty expectations. “I had no idea it would be as big as it is.””
Head over to Sports Illustrated to read more.