It’s no secret that Jackson State University head football coach Deion Sanders is one of the most high-profile candidates to fill a vacant Power Five head coaching job before the start of next season.
However, the path to greatness for Sanders should undoubtedly be through his HBCU program at Jackson State.
He’s been rumored to be a target of interest for multiple schools including Georgia Tech University, Arizona State University and Auburn University.
Sanders has said in the past that he’s appreciative of the head coaching interest from these programs and recently told the world that he will consider opportunities once they come about.
“I’d be a fool and a liar to tell you I’m not going to entertain those things, because I am,” Sanders said on College Gameday this past weekend. “But I have made no plans to move or go anywhere.”
Sanders has previously noted the fact that he was even being discussed in the conversation for those head coaching jobs was something to behold.
“I think this may be the first time — historically — that a Black man has been mentioned in that aspect at the rate that we’ve been mentioned. Ever,” Sanders said last month. “I’m happy. I’m elated that colleges would feel as though I got it. I know what I’m doing. That’s a blessing man.”
He continued: “You gotta understand because I’m all about elevation, I’m all about going to the next level. So to be mentioned is unbelievable. It coincides with what I’ve been preaching since the day I arrived. I believe. I believe in changing the game. Just to be mentioned is a game changer.”
For Sanders, these next few years will be crucial as an increasing number of schools approach him. He’ll have to evaluate what he truly wants in his coaching career.
However, if Sanders really believes in “changing the game,” there’s no better place to do it than where he’s at right now. Sanders is in one of the most unique positions in all of college athletics — he has an opportunity to continue to build a one-of-a-kind legacy and uplift HBCUs in a way that has arguably never been done before.
He’ll also be able to enjoy the perks and attention of being at a Division 1 HBCU. He has a voice at Jackson State that is powerful, largely because he has a community around the world of HBCU alumni that are backing him, not just one school.
Many people have failed to realize how much Sanders has benefited from being the head coach at Jackson State. Oftentimes people look at Sanders as the HBCU savior. And while he has been a major catalyst for these schools, especially in the SWAC, the historical importance and cultural significance of these institutions have undeniably added to the prestige of Sanders’ brand.
If Sanders coached at any other small Division 1 school that wasn’t an HBCU, the level of attention that he would receive wouldn’t be close to this high. The fact of the matter is that Sanders is nearly the perfect person and in the almost perfect situation to create a long-term and lasting impact while he’s at Jackson State.
If he leaves to go coach a mediocre Power Five school, the above experience will no longer exist for him. Not to mention the power and control that he’ll likely have to concede to coach in the ACC or SEC.
Now, if the increase in money and resources mean that much to Sanders, then this decision would be a no-brainer. Yes, he’d have the opportunity to coach against some of the most high-profile names in the sport on the Power Five level. But he’d also have to face the pressures of majority white boosters and fanbases who may not always agree with his tactics.
So if Sanders wants to make a true impact and create a lasting legacy that goes beyond wins and losses, the answer is to stay at his HBCU no matter how many Power Five schools come calling.
Sanders has the opportunity to do something at Jackson State that few people in his position get the chance to do and he shouldn’t give that up at the risk of becoming another run-of-the-mill coach walking a PWI sideline.
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