Did Deion Sanders Make the Right Decision Choosing to Coach at Colorado?
This upcoming college football season is coming to a close and with that means new coaching hires, coaches getting fired, and the opening of the transfer portal. We have already seen one major hire in the Pac-12 and that's none other than Jackson State's former NFL Hall Of Fame Coach Deion Sanders.
I wanted to at least wait a week before asking the question did Coach Prime make the right decision? I mean this is the biggest move in sports since Lebron left Cleveland for Miami. And even though I will answer the question now, we will have a better answer in a year, 2 years, or maybe even 3. However, it is worth answering and discussing now.
1. Should Coach Prime Have Left Jackson State?
This is really the best place to start. I know we remember Coach Prime's comments on HBCUs. Sanders said it was a message from God to go in and change HBCUs and make not only Jackson State better but the entire conference better than when he got there. He also stated on his podcast 21st and Prime that:
This is a God move. When they pulled up today, I said, you know it’s gotta be God for me to leave all this.
So the question now is, was it God that told you to leave, or was it that 4 million dollars and some change pay raise? And look I think he should've taken the job because he earned it. Especially when you look and see that he paid for upgrades to the practice facility, used his American Airlines connections to get the team flights, talked to Michael Strahan to get JCPenny to give the kids all suits so they could match, and he paid to upgrade the football stadium where they played games. That to me is an issue, the school should take care of that, not the football coach. However, that gets us into a fundamental problem that HBCUs have and that's funding. But he did all of that for the kids out of his heart.
He also won a lot of football games for JSU. Sanders' record as the JSU coach was 27-5, and he won 2 consecutive SWAC conference titles. So in terms of winning, he left the program in a better place than when he found it. He also garnered a lot of attention to not only the program but to the players. JSU never had NFL scouts at their games, Sanders got them there. He also did the unthinkable which is to have JSU so popular that ESPN's College Gameday went to JSU for the Boombox Classic where JSU played Southern. ESPN chose Sanders and JSU over Ohio State versus Penn State. So did keep his promise by making JSU great, it's hard to say anything other than yes. But did he revitalize HBCUs, I can't say yes yet. If the conference continues to gain popularity and see players like Travis Hunter go there then yes he did. But I personally don't believe that will happen. He needed to stay there for at least another 3 years minimum I think to bring real change. The reason why JSU and the SWAC were popular was because of Deion Sanders. And with him gone I'm afraid to say that I think the hype and popularity gained during his tenure will also leave with him.
2. Was Colorado The Right Choice
This part of the equation I believe is a lot easier to understand and break down than the first part. A lot of college football fans expected Sanders to go to either the SEC or ACC due to his southern roots. So they were extremely shocked and even questioned his decision when he chose Colorado. However, it's actually a brilliant decision.
With USC and UCLA going to the BIG 10 there's a hole in the PAC-12. Really the only team that has a history of winning with the conference is Oregon. So with Sanders coming in Colorado can easily take over the conference. We saw Coach Prime recruit the top cornerback in the country away from Alabama, arguably the best football school in the country. If Coach Prime did that with an HBCU, just imagine now that he has the resources of a power 5 team. We already see now with the transfer portal open, players are constantly coming out and saying "we want to play for Coach Prime". Sanders has a chance next year to instantly be a top team in the Pac-12 due to the portal. Also, the fact that he is a legendary 49ers player, means he can go into any house in California and have an easier time recruiting said player than Lincoln Riley or the rest of the California schools. Deion Sanders was an icon, those parents will be more inclined to trust him than anyone else. And then with the opening up of the playoffs, it really is the perfect storm for Coach Prime to change Colorado into a winner easily within the next 3 years. So was the decision right for him, that is easily a 100% yes.
He already is making a difference within the program as he is responsible for the school seeing their best merch sales day ever, an additional 175,000 social followers, and finally, they have already surpassed 2,000 season ticket interest forms. The Deion Sanders comet is already blazing over the Colorado sky and those fans are in for a treat.
So did Coach Prime make the right decision? For himself and his staff yes. Because another reason why he chose this job was to get his staff paid. And I always respect a leader that takes care of his team. But in terms of doing right by HBCUs, he might have failed on that front. And when I say that I mean HBCUs as a whole because he didn't fail JSU. But in terms of him saying I'm going to change HBCUs forever, that promise will be one that he can't keep.