JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - What has long been expected is now official.
Deion Sanders is the new head football coach at Jackson State.
Sanders announced the career move Sunday evening on the debut episode of his podcast, “21st and Prime”. In an ironic twist of math, the NFL Hall-of-Famer who made the number 21 famous will become the 21st head coach in JSU’s program history.
“I’ve been called to take things to another level,” said Sanders on the podcast about joining the Jackson State family.
“I’m ecstatic. I cannot wait to touch that grass, I can’t wait to put that whistle in my mouth, I can’t wait to start drawing up plays.”
Sanders, who was on campus this past weekend with JSU Athletic Director Ashley Robinson and interim President Thomas Hudson, will be officially introduced on Monday.
A two-time Super Bowl Champion and six-time First-Team All-Pro over a 14-year NFL career, Sanders has been public in the past about his interests in coaching at the college level. His prior coaching experiences include both assistant and head coaching stints at various high schools in the north Texas area. He currently serves as the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian in Dallas. He will continue those duties until the 2020 Texas high school season is finished.
Sanders visited the Jackson area back in August when he and Trinity Christian narrowly lost to MRA to open up the 2020 high school football season. It was during that trip that Sanders first came in contact with Robinson around the same time that JSU announced that it would not be renewing the contract of now-former head coach John Hendrick.
A deal ultimately was not agreed upon then and, for a time, Sanders was no longer considered a candidate in the search. However, the two parties got back to negotiating in mid-September and reached a deal shortly after with the plan always being that the announcement would coincide with Sanders' new podcast.
Terms of the deal are undisclosed, however Sanders will still do the podcast along with other media opportunities at Barstool Sports.
Sanders will begin his collegiate coaching career with a rebuilding project on his hands. Jackson State is steeped in history with 16 total SWAC titles, but none since 2007 and no winning seasons since 2013. Those at JSU have a firm belief that will quickly change with Sanders now in the fold.
“If you have no desire to play on Sundays, you can’t play for me,” said Sanders on the podcast. “I want players that have the willingness and the readiness to sacrifice and go to the next level ... If you’re good enough to play at Alabama, you’re good enough to play in Jackson."
With the SWAC pushing the football season to the Spring of 2021 due to COVID-19, Sanders' first game at Jackson State will be on February 27 against Mississippi Valley State at Veterans Memorial Stadium.