Jackson State head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders has turned heads ever since his arrival in Jackson, Mississippi.
He’s done it by breaking away from tradition and figuring out a formula that’s brought exposure, visibility and revenue. He’s also done it by hiring coaches most probably wouldn’t hire. This offseason Sanders reached out to Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach to ask him about hiring a new offensive coordinator. Leach gave him three names. From that group he chose Brett Bartolone, a key offensive analyst in the development of NFL prospect Carson Strong at Nevada.
Sanders, wasn’t done as he’s always looking for ways to better his defending SWAC champion Tigers. This week Sanders hired longtime Vikings head coach and NFL defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as an analyst. The hiring of Zim came a couple months after Sanders hired renowned tight ends coach Tim Brewster. What do all these great football minds have in common? They’re white, something you don’t see a lot of on HBCU football sidelines.
RUMOR HAS IT – FORMER NFL HEAD COACH MIKE ZIMMER MIGHT BE JOING JACKSON STATE https://t.co/MuEPSSOzud
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) August 16, 2022
In an interview via HBCUGameday.com following his hiring, the former Vikings sideline-stalker, had a lot to say about his close friend Coach Prime.
“I really think the sky’s the limit. If some people would donate to him and this football program, there would be no stopping him. He would be competing with the Georgias and Alabamas and everybody around the country — because I’ve seen what he’s done, the money that’s taken out of his own pocket to improve the facilities and here and the things that he’s had to try to overcome. I just feel like if people would jump on the bandwagon with him — and now’s the best time, they’re extremely good and getting great players — I just think the sky’s the limit. This guy could do it all.”
During SWAC media day Sanders, was asked about playing Alabama, and his response was this.
“We’re not into sacrificing our kids to get a check. He [Saban] got to give me another year. I got to beef up in the front.”
That’s not all Sanders will need to add quality depth across depth across the board.
Zim Believes Student-Athletes Could Flourish Under Sanders’ Leadership
Since his arrival, Sanders has helped change the trajectory of HBCU football. When have HBCU football games been on television all season? In the past it was usually the Bayou Classic (Southern vs Grambling). But this season JSU alone will have ten games across the ESPN networks. The HBCU Go network, which is owned by media mogul Byron Allen and the Allen Media Group will ensure that all 107 HBCUs will broadcast an 11-game schedule that will kickoff with FAMU and Albany State on Sept. 10. That’s something Zim touched on as well.
— Jackson State Athletics (@GoJSUTigers) August 15, 2022
“He can open up so many doors for these young men, but I’m extremely impressed with the way he’s teaching them about life and not just football. And taking care of them, and talking to them about the real things that go on in the world and not just fluff stuff.”
Coach Prime And The Tigers Have Celebration Bowl Win-Or-Bust Mentality
After dominating the SWAC in 2021, not losing a game and winning its first conference title in since 2007, the Tigers were humbled by Buddy Pough and his South Carolina State Bulldogs in the Celebration Bowl 31-10. Immediately following the loss Sanders began making valiant efforts to fix the things he deemed necessary to get it done this season.
They’ll begin their quest against the FAMU Rattlers on Sept. 4 in the Orange Blossom Classic.