Deion Sanders capped off a great week by leading his Jackson State Tigers to a 61-15 win over the Alabama A&M Bulldogs in Huntsville, Alabama. The Tigers ruined the Bulldogs’ homecoming with the romp.
This culminates a week for Coach Prime in which he was named Ebony Magazine “Gamechanger of the Year” in the magazine’s 2021 Power 100 List for his efforts in bringing more relevance, resources and publicity to the HBCU world and Black college football.
Congratulations to @DeionSanders aka Coach Prime…who was named by EBONY as its "Game Changer of the Year", in part of the magazine's 2021 Power 100 List!https://t.co/XDRuD0VEpN pic.twitter.com/YJHH4Gd2f4
— D Mc (@Pharoah2012) October 4, 2021
This win for Coach Prime and the Tigers has to be extra sweet considering all the shots Alabama A&M head coach Connell Maynor has taken at Sanders since his arrival in the SWAC. Last season, following the Bulldogs’ 52-43 spring season win over JSU, Maynor took a few subtle jabs at the Pro Football Hall of Famer.
“I don’t have to give a rah-rah speech this week, Maynor said. “Coach Sanders says he wants some dogs. Well I’m about to turn the Bulldogs loose on him.”
Maynor wasn’t done and had more to say about Sanders, who let everyone know he had some top recruits coming in for reinforcements during the 2021 season.
“Recruit some more five stars,” Maynor quipped. “You talk about all them four, five stars you recruit. You’re not the only one recruiting four and five stars. We do, too. Let’s go. We’ve got guys coming back next year, too.”
“Everybody waiting for next year, well we’re playing right now. Everybody likes their team at the beginning of the year, so it what it is.”
Sanders declined to respond, when asked about it in the spring. The fact that Coach Prime, who is never at a loss of words, just sat back and let Maynor pop off, should have been some indication that Jackson State had some tricks up its sleeve.
Maynor didn’t humble himself this season. He made a joke about Sanders using a scooter following foot/ankle surgery a couple weeks ago.
“Coach Sanders, I hurt my ankle getting off the bus the other day. You got an extra scooter for me? If you’ve got an extra scooter, send me one down here.”
Sanders did respond this time, and in typical Coach Prime fashion.
“It’s a little rivalry, it’s a little blood in between. You know, the coach says something about me, I don’t shoot back. Because I don’t do that because I’m really good at that. I’m on this high road right now, right? I’m a different dude. So I don’t do that. But you know, everybody is waiting for me to do that at the conclusion of this matter.
“We’re just gonna have to sit and see. Am I gonna do that?”
Coach Prime got the last laugh by walloping Maynor’s team and then leaving a pink scooter at the Alabama A&M midfield logo with a JSU sticker on the seat. Sheesh. It doesn’t get any more petty than that.
The Tigers defense completely throttled the Bulldogs offense and quarterback Aqeel Glass, an NFL prospect. The JSU offense was in a zone. Quarterback Shedeur Sanders, son of Coach Prime, went 17-for-24 for 249 yards and five total touchdowns, four passing.
Shedeur Sanders to Josh Lanier for 6-yard touchdown 🏈#IBelieve pic.twitter.com/yjXEiUJu6T
— Jackson State Football (@GoJSUTigersFB) October 9, 2021
On his 32-yard touchdown run he even performed an ode to dad by doing a rendition of his signature touchdown dance.
Five weeks into the season and the Tigers look like the team to beat in the SWAC, but don’t tell that to Sanders, who won’t let his guys relax. He’s constantly preaching and teaching his team to keep the intensity and aggression while also staying disciplined.
Regardless of the outcome, the Sanders-Maynor rivalry is fun even if their first regular-season fall football matchup was a dud. Every great sports movement needs a hero and a villain. The best rivalries bring the most attention, and these two coaches seem to have that figured out.