With Sanders, Jackson State seeks to be ‘prime time’ again

NCAA Football

(Stats Perform) – Even on the FCS level, it’s unusual for a school to make a head coaching hire without a college or pro background.

But the splash Jackson State will make with Deion Sanders on Monday is quite different. The 53-year-old Pro Football and College Hall of Famer, forever “Prime Time” with a personality that’s generational for recruiting, provides visibility to a Southwestern Athletic Conference program that seeks to reclimb the HBCU and college football ranks.

Sanders announced he is becoming Jackson State’s next head coach late Sunday on the debut episode of his “21st and Prime” podcast. The Mississippi school’s acting president, Thomas Hudson, and athletic director, Ashley Robinson, appeared on the show, and are expected to make a formal announcement about the hiring Monday morning.

“It’s a match made in heaven,” Sanders said on the podcast.

Considered one of the greatest cornerbacks in history, Sanders starred at Florida State before the Atlanta Falcons selected him fifth overall in the 1989 NFL Draft. He went on to win two Super Bowls and make eight Pro Bowls while playing with five organizations over 14 seasons.

A two-sport star, he also spent parts of nine seasons in Major League Baseball.

Sanders has mostly been a media personality since retiring as a player in January 2006. He has coaching experience at high schools in the north Texas area and is expected to finish the 2020 season working as the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian School, whose roster includes his son Shedeur.

One of Sanders’ teammates on the Super Bowl XXIX-winning San Francisco 49ers, longtime NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, was hired in December as the head coach at another FCS program, Big Sky Conference member Northern Colorado, despite not having coached above the high school level.

Sanders’ desire to get into college coaching could have factored into Jackson State parting ways with coach John Hendrick on Aug. 31. Hendrick went 6-9 in two seasons, which makes the Tigers a combined 23-44 over their last six campaigns. They’ve won 16 SWAC titles, but none since 2007.

The SWAC postponed its fall season to the spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sanders era will kick off on Feb. 19 or 20 at home against Division II program Edward Waters.

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