Deion Sanders is coaching his final game as head coach for Jackson State. His Tigers are trying for their first-ever undefeated season in today’s Celebration Bowl against North Carolina Central.
Sanders, now known as “Coach Prime,” accepted the head coaching job at Colorado earlier this month. And the new Buffaloes coach said he’s well aware of the blowback he’s received for leaving the small HBCU program he helped amplify in the college football conversation.
“Never once did I say they’re gonna put a tombstone with my name on it at Jackson State,” said Deion Sanders as he talked to reporters at a Celebration Bowl press conference. “So I wasn’t gonna die here. Y’all know that.”
But yes, Sanders did initially indicate that he planned on staying longer. Check that, he gave the impression he’d be there for awhile. Prime is 55. You can call him a late bloomer as a head coach. He already was independently wealthy after all those years playing in the NFL. His intentions seemed pure — coach for the love of football, not for money or attention. Jackson State was Sanders’ first-ever head coaching job. He was in his third season with the Tigers before accepting the job at Colorado.
But as Deion Sanders noted during his bowl press conference, there’s not much left to be done to elevate Jackson State.
“Everything I said I would do, I did,” Sanders said. “Everything I said I wanted to happen, I tried my darnedest to make it happen. We’ve exceeded, I think, expectations, in some realm.”
Deion Sanders Is Aiming for Lucky Win No. 13 in Celebration Bowl
The Tigers are going for win No. 13 today. Sanders guided Jackson State to the Celebration Bowl last season as well. But the Tigers fell to South Carolina State, 31-10. So Jackson State had to settle for an 11-2 record. Overall all, Sanders is 27-5 in his three seasons. Technically, he coached the 2020 Tigers team. But because of the COVID pandemic, Jackson State didn’t play until spring, 2021. The Tigers finished the delayed and abbreviated season 4-3.
Sanders also elevated recruiting to his old school. His most notable signee was Travis Hunter, the nation’s top-ranked recruit and former commitment to Florida State. Coincidentally, Sanders starred for the Seminoles in the 1980s. The new Colorado coach said he expects Hunter to transfer to the Buffaloes.
But back to Sanders leaving Jackson State and the criticism he’s received. He said fans soon will find out how much he and his staff did for the Tigers.
“I’m a change agent,” he said. “When we leave, you’re gonna find out what all we did. Because they don’t really talk about the positivity ‘til we go. You’ll find out what all we did for Jackson State and all we wanted to do for Jackson State. I just pray to God that in all our getting, get some understanding on change and where change really starts. It does not start in the football department.”