Deion Sanders is set to be a college football head coach. The legendary cornerback is taking over Jackson State, an HBCU at the FCS level.
Sanders made his desire to be a college football head coach very clear, even as he continues to manage a media career. He pursued the opening at his alma mater Florida State, which eventually went to Mike Norvell. He also interviewed at Arkansas, which was pretty surprising.
The Razorbacks ultimately went with Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman, but athletic director Hunter Yurachek says he was impressed with Coach Prime during his interview. Ultimately, he didn’t believe it made sense for Sanders to jump right up to SEC head coaching as his first college job.
“I was thoroughly impressed with Deion,” Yurachek told Sports Illustrated. “I didn’t think this was the right starting point for him as a collegiate head coach in the SEC, but I think Jackson State is a great landing spot. Some are going to say this is a publicity stunt. Yes, it’s going to sell more tickets, but the time I was able to visit with Deion, he knows football.”
SI Daily Cover: The ripple effect of @DeionSanders’s stunning hire at Jackson State has gone well beyond Mississippi.@RossDellenger on 'Coach Prime,' HBCU football and the challenge ahead: https://t.co/qGVc0IZlQK pic.twitter.com/yZnPIVUNsU
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 8, 2020
The hire was clearly a publicity play for the school and program, at least in part. In that regard, it has been a tremendous success. Sanders’ hire received major write-ups from every sports site in the country, and even landed him an appearance on Good Morning America.
Jackson State athletic director Ashley Robinson says that it is also a serious football play, installing Deion at the head of the program in a “CEO”-type role, not unlike what Arizona State described when it hired Herm Edwards.
“On [the AD] level, we don’t look at that hard enough, don’t look at the bigger picture,” Robinson told SI. “Everybody I talk to is saying now is the time to do this. You’re doing something nobody thought about doing or nobody had the guts to do. I think this will start something.”
It is anyone’s guess how Coach Prime and Jackson State will work out, but there will be more attention paid to the program than any HBCU football program has had in a long time, and it is hard to imagine that Deion Sanders won’t be able to at least pitch his program to some talented players already considering the FCS level.