Football legend Deion Sanders, aka Coach Prime is officially leaving Jackson State University.
After weeks of speculation, it has been confirmed that Sanders is leaving his position as head football coach at JSU and taking his talents to the University of Colorado.
The announcement of his departure came just hours after he led the Jackson State Tigers to victory at the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship on Saturday, defeating Southern University 43-24.
After the big win, Sanders did not attend the SWAC-sanctioned postgame press conference but instead met with the team at Jackson State to inform them of his decision to accept the offer to be the next head football coach at Colorado.
“It’s not about a bag but it is about an opportunity. … If you dominate your opportunity and you treat people right, the bag is gone always come… I’ve never chased a bag. A bag has always chased on me” Sanders told the players.
That same night he boarded his flight to Boulder, and Colorado made the news official.
An Impressive Impact
Coach Prime came to JSU in 2020 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic with the task of revitalizing the football program.
That he did, compiling a record of 26-5, including going undefeated this season. In 2021, Jackson State won the Southwestern Athletic Conference title for the first time since 2007, defeating every single conference team it played, and claimed another on Saturday.
WLBT reports Coach Prime’s financial impact on the capital city, saying that JSU’s four home games brought in $16.2 million for the city this season, up from $7.2 million in 2017.
Sanders has said that coaching the Tigers was a “calling,” and brought national exposure to the program through appearances on shows like ESPN College Gameday and 60 Minutes on CBS.
During his appearance on “60 Minutes” he said that he accepted the offer to coach Jackson State three months after the murder of George Floyd because “a lot of folks sit back with Twitter fingers and talk about what they’re going to do; I wanted to do it.”
He detailed his goal, saying he wanted to “change lives, change the perspective of HBCU football. Make everyone step to the plate and do right by these kids.”
Although his departure comes as a huge disappointment to many JSU fans, some may say that he completed his goal and that he’s leaving the program in better shape than he found it.
While breaking the news to the team, Coach Prime shared that he was aiding the program in finding its successor. He said that he recommends T.C. Taylor, who currently serves as JSU’s wide receivers coach. It remains to be seen who will fill Sanders’ shoes.
A New Journey at Colorado
On Sunday, Sanders held his first news conference as the new football coach at the University of Colorado.
“There were a number of highly qualified and impressive candidates interested in becoming the next head football coach at Colorado, but none of them had the pedigree, the knowledge, and the ability to connect with student-athletes like Deion Sanders,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a statement.
“Not only will Coach Prime energize our fanbase, I’m confident that he will lead our program back to national prominence while leading a team of high quality and high character.”– University of Colorado Athletic Director Rick George
During Sunday’s news conference Sanders confirmed that he intends to see Jackson State through the Celebration Bowl, which takes place Dec. 17 as they face off against North Carolina Central.
By taking the position to coach the Buffaloes, Sanders will be one of few black coaches at a Power 5 program.
“It’s been four or more African American head coaches that has been terminated [at the FBS level]. I haven’t heard not one like a candidate like myself and to me, that’s a problem” Sanders told the Jackson State team.
Sanders thanked Colorado Athletic Director Rick George for having the “courage” to replace one Black coach with another one.
“Because there are several African American coaches around the country that were terminated,” Sanders explained, “and they were not replaced by an African American coach. But you had the audacity to do such a thing. … I thank you for seeing past the color and the ethnicity, and seeing the man with a plan to bring you back to the place of promise.”
Sanders also indicated that his son Shedeur Sanders, Jackson State’s starting quarterback, will be joining him at Colorado.
During Sunday’s news conference, Deion Sanders pointed toward Shedeur and said, “This is your quarterback.”
“He’s going to have to earn it, though,” Sanders added.
A sophomore, Shedeur can enter the transfer portal and follow his father to Boulder.
“I just want you to know we’re on the way,” Sanders said. “Not to compete, but to win. Not to show up, but to show out. Not to be among the rest, but to be the absolute best. We’re coming to work, not coming to play. We’re coming to kill, not to kick it.”
Mixed Reactions From Fans
Sanders decision to leave Jackson State University, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), for University of Colorado, a Predominately White College (PWI), has received mixed reactions from fans on social media.
Some feel as though he fulfilled his goal of helping advocate for HBCUs and should now be able to pursue other opportunities, while others feel as though he used Jackson State as a stepping stone and has sold out by leaving an HBCU for a PWI.
By leaving for Colorado, Coach Prime broke his four-year, $1.4 million deal with Jackson State, and will now owe about $300,000 for a contract buyout according to the Clarion-Ledger.
Although it’s hard to see Sanders go, one can only hope that his impact on HBCU sports will sustain.
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