At one point, Jackson State football coach Deion Sanders sat on campus in the team meeting room 2.7 miles from Veterans Memorial Stadium. On Saturday night, after beating Southern 43-24 to win back-to-back SWAC Championship games, Sanders told his players the information they heard was true.
As Sanders told his team the news of his hiring in Colorado, Jackson State’s media room was filled with TV crews with standing room press waiting to hear him.
South coach Eric Dooley was interviewed as the Tigers were on the field accepting their trophy as Sanders attempted to enter the press room. Sanders’ good friend and black media personality, Roland Martin, had to stand against the wall as Dooley finished speaking. It was later explained that Sanders tried to enter the room but it was so crowded that he couldn’t open the door and left.
“I wish you all heard it from me and nobody else,” said Sanders, who was hired in September 2020 and went 27-5 in three seasons. “By training, either in training you are brought up or you are fired. There is no other way. There is no cemetery for trainers where they die in the place, either you leave on your own or you get run away. There’s no other way. I’ve chosen to take the job elsewhere next year. I’m going to finish what we started. We’re going to dominate and I’ll be there until this end and this conclusion and then we’ll move on.”
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Sanders, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, told his team he wasn’t tired of fighting. He talked about his faith, how he believed he was called to come to Jackson State. How he would wonder why as a player he could be so dominant and yet have to play for five football teams. To him, it made no sense.
“I had to understand that when he takes you from faith to faith,” said Sanders, 55, “and from glory to glory, that’s why God would allow him to play for five hell of a football team and four baseball teams. . It’s not supposed to happen like this. But I understand the call it has on my life. I feel like I have to do something about it.”
Sanders will still coach Jackson State when the Tigers (12-0) take on North Carolina Central (9-2, 4-1) at the Cricket Celebration Bowl on Dec. 17 (11 a.m. ABC) in Atlanta.
Sanders also spoke about black coaches being fired in the NFL and there was no other black candidate to replace them. For Sanders, that’s a problem.
“If somebody doesn’t get up and come out and hold it for us,” Sanders said. “It’s a problem. A lot of haters don’t understand that college football is 70% African American. It just happens to be more at an HBCU. It’s not like I don’t wasn’t going to talk to young African American men, because my challenge is always to bring about change no matter where I am.”
Sanders said the start is the most difficult moment ever because it involves his team. The move to Colorado isn’t about making money, Sanders said, but about opportunity.
“Don’t jump in the portal,” Sanders told his team, “whether it’s 11 or 22, we’re going to Atlanta to kick ass. I’d hate for you to be home watching us on TV doing our thing. make sure you choose correctly and if anyone has a problem i would like you to come directly to me about it so i can get you back on the right track so i can give you some real direction in the life and what I see for you and what I think you should do as a man I won’t say anything bad to you, I’ll tell you the right thing.