Few may pull off bringing prime time swag to the Southwestern Athletic Convention. However as quickly as Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders stepped off the airplane for the primary time in Jackson, Mississippi, issues instantly modified for the panorama of HBCU (Traditionally black faculty and college) sports activities.
“What’s a win to us at JSU, if we win the championship — and we’re going to do this — OK, and nobody goes professional, I don’t really feel like we gained,” Sanders mentioned after clinching the SWAC East division in his first full season. “If our commencement price has not elevated, did we win? It’s not simply video games, we try to vary the sport in all aspects.”
Sanders’ presence introduced extra notoriety and a spotlight to a convention whose legacy is as nice as that of any main convention in America.
The cavalcade of Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame gamers and NFL All-Execs stands above most soccer applications within the NCAA’s Soccer Championship Subdivision. From Walter Payton to Jerry Rice and from Doug Williams to Steve McNair, these faculties have produced nice legends of the sport.
The SWAC will boast two postseason groups for the primary time since 1997. Florida A&M, which gained the primary NCAA Division I-AA nationwide championship in 1978, earned an at-large bid to this 12 months’s playoffs, which kicked off on Nov. 27. The Rattlers misplaced to Southeast Louisiana, 38–14, within the opening-round sport. EST. FAMU (9–2), whose solely convention loss in its first full SWAC season was to Jackson State Labor Day weekend, had gained eight consecutive video games.
The winner of the SWAC Championship Sport between Jackson State and Prairie View A&M on Dec. 4 will then face South Carolina State for the HBCU Nationwide Championship within the nationally televised Celebration Bowl that airs on ABC-TV on Dec. 20 from Atlanta.
No coach because the late Eddie Robinson of Grambling has completed extra for the advertising of HBCU sports activities than Sanders. Not like Robinson’s groups, which performed in the course of the days of Jim Crow within the South, which put them behind the eight ball once they traveled, Sanders’ workforce was a field office-caliber draw all through the convention when it confirmed up.
“It has been estimated that Coach Prime has introduced over $185,000,000 to the JSU program and surrounding neighborhood,” mentioned Charles Bishop co-host of “Thee” Pre Sport present, JSU’s video podcast that emanates from sidelines throughout every sport.
“Earlier than Coach Prime obtained there Jackson State was hardly ever, if ever on TV,” mentioned Knowledge Martin, a JSU alumni who’s a information anchor at Fox 5 TV in Washington, D.C. “However as soon as he began doing his factor and the eye that he delivered to this system, our publicity took off, and it additionally helped unfold the phrase about HBCU sports activities.
Regardless of lacking three weeks whereas recovering from foot surgical procedure, Sanders led his workforce to an undefeated FCS report. The Tigers completed 10–1 whereas ending dropping streaks towards longtime nemeses Tennessee State and Southern College. The win in Baton Rouge was marred by a melee afterward when a number of JSU gamers started taunting Southern by planting their faculty’s flag at midfield. That following Monday, Sanders publicly apologized to SU coach Jason Rollins and admonished the “gents” who initiated the fracas as “idiots” and vowed it will by no means occur once more.
“We’ve to learn to win,” Sanders mentioned. “We need to play good, robust, quick, and disciplined. We forgot the self-discipline and the character.”
Sanders’ advertising acumen, media savvy, and religious comportment at instances have gone past the Xs, Os, wins and losses. Coach Prime has been seen within the Jackson, Mississippi neighborhood whereas utilizing his nationwide profile to enhance the standard of life for his scholar athletes. He brokered offers with eating places similar to Golden Corral for gamers to make smarter meal decisions when leaving campus.
He struck athletic attire offers with Underneath Armour, and his relationship with SWAC soccer legend and “Good Morning America” co-host Michael Strahan led to new fits for a lot of Tiger gamers who by no means owned one earlier than due to the previous New York Big’s clothes line. Strahan performed collegiately at Texas Southern.
“We’re going to win. We’re going to look good whereas we win, and we’re going to have time whereas we win,” Sanders mentioned.
Sanders, 54, has additionally been featured in AFLAC commercials reverse Alabama’s legendary coach Nick Saban. The web site Barstool Sports activities produced an JSU model of the NFL Community’s “Onerous Knocks” actuality present chronicling the spring and thus the nationwide model of Coach Prime was born.
This 12 months Sanders’ presence on the sideline grew to become the face of Black School Soccer. Greater than 100 HBCU soccer video games have aired or been streamed on numerous nationwide networks and streaming providers. Whereas the SWAC model grew immensely, Division II faculties had been in a position to profit because the curiosity in HBCU soccer grew dramatically.
Earlier this season when Alcorn State didn’t have an athletic coach and was pressured to overlook two practices earlier than its sport towards South Alabama — an FBS opponent — Sanders vocally expressed how the rivalry between the 2 sides ought to be quelled so he may intervene and assist its program.
“Among the issues that I’ve seen so far early in my tenure are actually unacceptable,” Sanders mentioned. It causes a child to not dream.”
“He’s been doing a number of nice issues,” mentioned Alcorn State coach Fred McNair. “He has been in a position to handle a number of issues that we have now all through HBCU soccer. The eye that he’s delivered to the convention has been in a position to elevate the publicity of the video games, and that’s a optimistic factor.”
“I believe his presence has been a optimistic affect,” mentioned Florida A&M coach Willie Simmons.
The Tigers are a Sanders household affair, and Coach Prime is only one third of the equation. His son Shedeur, Jackson State’s beginning quarterback, is a candidate for SWAC Offensive Participant of the Yr and is a finalist for the Walter Payton Award as the highest participant in FCS. His different son Shiloh is a beginning security for the Tigers. In the meantime, the coach has additionally been nominated for the Eddie Robinson Award because the nation’s high FCS coach and was named SWAC Coach of the Yr.
Throughout his first 12 months as an HBCU head coach, Sanders seems to have gone by way of a cultural awakening. Regardless of having to enhance his program’s infrastructure, he constantly speaks with reverence about how the rivalries, homecoming and the success on the sector being shared together with his sons is priceless. Nonetheless, he sees it as an even bigger calling for extra than simply soccer success.
Deion Sanders was typically a sport changer when he performed, and it earned him a spot within the Professional and faculty soccer halls of fame. The second act of his profession has given him an opportunity to present again to the sport and alter the lives of younger African-American scholar athletes, and that problem is what drives him as we speak.
“The enjoying subject is horrible. It’s not a degree enjoying subject. It’s unacceptable. Thank God that God known as me to vary the sport, to open their eyes, to open the door. Not only for Jackson State, however for everyone.”
Edited by Stan Chrapowicki and Kristen Butler