Rolling Out

2-time SWAC champ Deion Sanders is leaving JSU, but hasn’t coached final game

Here’s what is going on with Coach Prime leaving the SWAC and HBCU football
2-time SWAC champ Deion Sanders is leaving JSU, but hasn't coached final game
Jackson State athletic director Ashley Robinson and former JSU football coach Deion Sanders (Video screenshot via: YouTube – Well Off Media)

The Jackson State Tigers are, once again, the football champions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Tigers earned the title and kept its perfect record intact with a 43-24 win over Southern University on Dec. 3. PR superstar Brandy Merriweather, a rolling out Sister with Superpowers honoree and the self-proclaimed “MsHBCU,” was in attendance to present scholarships to students on behalf of General Motors, but the feeling of the entire game was different.

The city of Jackson, Mississippi, and Tigers fans were already a tad anxious after the report leaked the night before that coach Deion Sanders was tapped to be the University of Colorado’s next football coach and planned to tell his team after the conference championship. It also appeared Southern even trolled Tigers’ fans about the report at halftime.

“Hey, Jackson, it sounds like you need to be getting ready for a new head coach,” Southern’s announcer said during the Human Jukebox’s halftime performance. “How come the coach don’t want you no more? Haha. I told y’all he wasn’t SWAC. Coach Prime is about to be big ballin’.”

The ESPN2 broadcast duo of Tiffany Greene and Jay Walker didn’t mention the report heavily until the final minutes of the game as they recapped the “Prime era” at JSU.

In the final seconds, the camera panned to Sanders on the sideline, who had his arm over the shoulder of Jackson State athletic director Ashley Robinson, the only man who gave Sanders a head-coaching opportunity in college coming up from high school. As the game clock hit triple zeros, an emotional Shedeur Sanders ran onto the field with a Jackson State flag and planted it at midfield.

Then, came the playing of the alma mater for the final time at The Vet for Sanders and Tracey Edmonds as Shedeur joined. Sanders previously hinted at Shedeur coming with him if he were to get another coaching job. Shedeur was with his father when the family arrived in Colorado later that night.

Sanders’ other son on the team, Shilo, did not play in the SWAC championship. Reporter Jeff Lightsy Jr. said from what he’s heard on the ground around Jackson, Shilo wasn’t a fan of the move to Colorado and bumped heads with his father about the decision.

After the game, Sanders didn’t show up for his routine postgame press conference. He went back to Jackson State’s campus to have a meeting with the team and Robinson.

“Coach Prime attempted to enter the interview room,” JSU released in a statement. “Southern’s press conference was still in progress. Coach Prime then left the stadium to attend official business [with] the athletic director and the team.”

The official business was recorded and uploaded by another one of Sanders’ sons, Deion Sanders Jr., on his YouTube channel.

“In coaching, you either get elevated or you get terminated,” Sanders told the team. “Ain’t no other way. You’re either elevated or terminated. There ain’t a graveyard for coaches where they die at the place. It don’t work like that. They either gone run you off, or you gone walk off. I’ve chosen to accept the job elsewhere next year.”

A couple of hours later, he arrived at his new job.

Sanders assured the Tigers his duties weren’t done at JSU, however.

“I’m going to finish what we started,” he said. “So we’re going to dominate. I’m going to be there until that end, that conclusion. Then, at that conclusion, we will move on.”

The “finish” Sanders speaks of is the Celebration Bowl against North Carolina Central on Dec. 17 in Atlanta.

Sanders’ recommendation to succeed him at Jackson State is T.C. Taylor, a longtime JSU assistant, former JSU player and NFL player.

Coach Prime also addressed some fans’ questions about why he left his fight to level the playing field for HBCUs when he said God called him to do it when he accepted the job in September 2020.

“I’m not tired of fighting whatsoever,” Sanders said, “but if I heard God’s voice, I’m coming. Don’t second-guess my hearing ability. I know God. I know when he shifts and I know when he moves, and I know how he gets down with me … many detractors, I guess they don’t understand college football consists of 70% African American[s], I don’t care where you at. It just happens to be more at an HBCU, but it’s not like I’m not going to speak into the lives of young African American men and women alike, because my challenge is still to provoke change no matter where I am … this is probably the toughest moment for me ever because it involves y’all … it’s not about a bag. I’ve been making money a long time … so it’s not about a bag, but it is about an opportunity.”

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