Thanks to Official Time, historically black colleges and universities are reaching a period of prosperity

Few people can bring significant time to the Southwest Athletics Conference. But as soon as Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders Stepping off the plane for the first time in Jackson, Mississippi, things immediately changed for the landscape of HBCU (historically black colleges and universities).

“What is winning for us at JSU, if we win the championship – and we will – OK, and no one plays pro, I don’t feel like we won,” Sanders said. said after finishing SWAC East in his first full season. “If our graduation rate doesn’t go up, we won’t? It’s not just the game, we’re trying to change the game in every way.”

Sanders’ Presence bring a lot of notoriety and attention to a conference with as great a legacy as any major convention in America.

The cavalry team of Pro Football Hall of Fame and NFL All-Pros players stands above most football programs in the NCAA Football Championship Division. Are from Walter Payton arrive Jerry Rice and from Doug Williams arrive Steve McNair, these schools have spawned great legends of the game.

SWAC will feature two teams post-season for the first time since 1997. Florida A&M, which won its first NCAA Division I-AA national championship in 1978, has earned a spot in this year’s knockouts. , which began on November 27, the Rattlers lost to Southeast Louisiana, 38–14, in the opening game. EST time. FAMU (9–2), whose only loss of the first full SWAC season was against Jackson State Labor at the weekend, have won eight games in a row.

The winner of the SWAC Championship Game between Jackson State and Prairie View A&M on December 4 will then face South Carolina State for the HBCU National Championship in the nationally televised Rugby League. on ABC-TV on December 20 from Atlanta.

No coach since the late Eddie Robinson of Grambling has done more for HBCU sports marketing than Sanders. Unlike Robinson’s teams, which played during Jim Crow days in the South, who placed them behind the eight ball as they moved, Sanders’ team was a box office draw throughout the convention. when it appeared.

“It is estimated that Coach Prime has brought in over $185,000,000 to the JSU program and the surrounding community,” said Charles Bishop, co-host of “Thee” Pre Game show, JSU’s video podcast emanating from the inside. margin in each match.

“Before Coach Prime got there, Jackson State was rarely on TV,” said Wisdom Martin, a JSU alumnus who is now a news anchor at Fox 5 in Washington, DC. “But when he did He started doing his thing and the attention he got to the show, our exposure was successful, and it also helped to spread the word about HBCU sports.

Despite taking three weeks while recovering from foot surgery, Sanders led his team to an undefeated FCS record. The Tigers finished 10–1 while ending a losing streak against longtime foes Tennessee State and Southern University. Victory in Baton Rouge was later marred by a scuffle when some JSU players began taunting Southern by planting their school’s flag in the middle of the field. That next Monday, Sanders publicly apologized to SU coach Jason Rollins and reminded the “gentlemen” who initiated the feat were “idiots” and vowed it would never. happen again.

“We have to learn how to win,” Sanders said. “We want to play smart, tough, fast and disciplined. We forgot discipline and character.”

Sanders’ marketing acumen, media savvy, and mental analysis have sometimes surpassed Xs, Os, wins and loses. Coach Prime has popped up in the Jackson, Mississippi community while using his national record to improve the quality of life for his student athletes. He’s brokered deals with restaurants like Golden Corral so players have smarter meal choices when away from campus.

He signed a sports apparel deal with Under Armor, and his relationship with football legend SWAC and “Good Morning America” ​​co-host Michael Strahan led to new suits for many Tiger players never owned thanks to the previous clothing line of the New York Giant. Strahan played as a team at Texas Southern.

“We will win. We’ll look good when we win and we’ll have a good time when we win,” Sanders said.

Sanders, 54, has also appeared in AFLAC commercials opposite legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban. The website Barstool Sports produced a JSU version of the NFL Network’s “Hard Knocks” reality show capturing the spring and thus the national brand of Coach Prime was born.

This year Sanders’ presence on the sidelines has become the face of Black College Football. More than 100 HBCU football matches have been broadcast or streamed on various national networks and streaming services. While the SWAC brand has grown tremendously, Division II schools could benefit as interest in HBCU football grows dramatically.

Deion Sanders has always been a good football player. These days, he shows he can coach a bit too. (Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Location Experience)

Earlier this season when Alcorn State was without a sports coach and was forced to miss two practice sessions before a game against South Alabama – an FBS rival – Sanders spoke out expressing the rivalry between the two sides should be stamped out. off so he can intervene and help. its program.

“Some of the things that I’ve seen so early in my tenure are really unacceptable,” Sanders said. It keeps a child from dreaming.”

“He’s doing a lot of great things,” said Alcorn State coach Fred McNair. “He was able to address a lot of the concerns we had throughout HBCU football. The attention he brought to the conference was able to enhance the visibility of the games, and that is a positive. ”

“I think his presence has had a positive effect,” said Florida A&M coach Willie Simmons.

The Tigers are the story of the Sanders family, and Coach Prime is only one third of the equation. His son Shedeur, the Jackson State starting quarterback, was a nominee for SWAC Offensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Walter Payton Awards as FCS’s top player. His other son, Shiloh was the starting safety for the Tigers. Meanwhile, the coach has also been nominated for the Eddie Robinson Award as the nation’s top FCS coach and named SWAC Coach of the Year.

During his first year as HBCU head coach, Sanders seemed to have experienced a cultural awakening. Despite the need to improve the infrastructure for his program, he always speaks with respect about how the competition, homecoming and on-field success shared with his sons are immeasurable. price. However, he sees it as a bigger calling than just football success.

Deion Sanders is often a game changer when he plays, and it earns him a spot in the prestigious college and professional football halls of fame. His second career move gave him the opportunity to get back into the game and change the lives of young African-American student athletes, and that challenge is what drives him to where he is today. now.

“The playground is horrible. It’s not a level playing field. It is not acceptable. Thank God that God called me to change the game, open the eyes, open the door. Not just for Jackson State, but for everyone. “

Edited by Stan Chrapowicki and Kristen Butler Thanks to Official Time, historically black colleges and universities are reaching a period of prosperity


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