You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Leaving Jackson State Was a Smart Move for Deion Sanders

Stadium Talk logo: MainLogo Stadium Talk 1/28/2023 Tony Adame

Few head-coaching moves in college football have landed like the thunderbolt that struck when NFL legend Deion Sanders announced he was leaving HBCU member Jackson State for a job at the University of Colorado (CU). The Dec. 3 news comes after Sanders' three ultra-successful seasons at Jackson State, including an undefeated record heading into the Cricket Celebration Bowl on Dec. 17 against North Carolina Central. 

Deion Sanders © AP Photo / David Zalubowski Deion Sanders

The largest criticism of Sanders following the Colorado hire has been that he somehow betrayed Jackson State or "used" them in order to get a Power Five head coaching job, which defies the very conventions of logic. It couldn't be further from the truth. 

What is the truth, then? Leaving Jackson State after three seasons was the right move for Deion Sanders, as it's simply a natural progression in his coaching career. 

'I Can Never Leave Who I Am'

The hot takes that criticized Sanders leaving Jackson State to become the head coach at the University of Colorado came in almost as fast as the man himself once was during his Hall of Fame playing career. Sanders, in typical fashion, addressed the criticism head-on at his introductory press conference in Boulder, Colorado. 

“The thing that alarms me the most is, just because I’m leaving Jackson, they think that I’m leaving African Americans,” Sanders said. “I don’t know if you noticed or not, but I’m Black. I can never leave who I am, or what I am, or how I go about being that. It is still my task to look in that locker room and see 65 to 70 percent of African American men trying to help them get to the next level as well as all the others. My calling is for young men, young women and people of all walks of life, social climates and all ethnicities. That’s my calling. My calling is not built on a location. It’s built on a destination."

Poignant stuff. Which Sanders, ever the self-promoter, was quick to point out to the assembled crowd. "Now that was good!" Sanders added. "You’re supposed to clap for that! We just started, and you’re already getting my good stuff!”

What Did Deion Sanders Do for Jackson State?

Deion Sanders on the sidelines © AP Photo / Lynne Sladky Deion Sanders on the sidelines

You can make an argument that behind Pro Football Hall of Famers Jackie Slater and the late Walter Payton, Deion Sanders became the single most important figure in Jackson State football history in his three seasons as head coach. 

Sanders went 37-5 overall — 4-3 in 2022, 11-2 in 2021 and 12-0 in 2022 headed into the Tigers' bowl game. He won back-to-back SWAC championships in 2021 and 2022 and was the National FCS Coach of the Year in 2021, taking home the Eddie Robinson Award, named for the legendary Grambling State head coach. 

Sanders' biggest moment at Jackson State came on the recruiting trail when the No. 1 player in the Class of 2022, Collins Hill (Georgia) High cornerback Travis Hunter, flipped his commitment from Florida State, Sanders' alma mater, and signed with Jackson State. It was the first time in history that the nation's No. 1 recruit signed with an HBCU. 

To continue reading, check out the original article on Stadium Talk.


Stadium Talk

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon