Deion Sanders has had to make adjustments in his new role as head coach at Jackson State.
Sanders starred at football school Florida State and spent 14 seasons in the NFL where he built a Hall of Fame career. Those are places that come with luxuries. Jackson State isn’t a place like that.
Sanders spoke with reporters for the first time at Southwestern Athletic Conference media day on Wednesday following big recruitment wins last month and shared the differences in resources.
Lack of resources outside Power 5
Sanders called out rickety training tables, uneven practice fields and outdated helmets, pads and practice equipment, via the Mississippi Clarion Ledger. It creates an unequal playing field, metaphorically, for football players at different schools.
“The playing field is horrible,” Sanders said. “It's not a level playing field. It's unacceptable. Thank God that God called me to change the game, to open their eyes, to open the door. Not just for Jackson State, but for everybody.”
The money at smaller schools isn’t there like it is at big ones such as Clemson, which opened its $55 million football complex in 2017. It came in part from College Football Playoff payouts and is a cycle that brings in top recruits who then put them in more championships.
The lack of top resources creates a different type of cycle. The players who do go to Jackson State have trouble getting to the NFL, Sanders said.
“Some of the things that I've seen thus far early in my tenure are truly unacceptable,” Sanders said. “It causes a kid not to dream. It causes a kid to not have that passion because he don't see no end result that's promising for him.”
How Sanders is changing the HBCU
Sanders, 53, told reporters he’s working on changing things, similar to what his sons both said when they announced they would be playing for their father at Jackson State.
He’s coordinated an apparel deal with Under Armour, switching the school from Nike, and promising customization in the product, per HBCU Game Day.
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) December 7, 2020
The players were excited to get a new sweatsuit and a coordinated uniform from helmet to shoes, Sanders said.
“You know my quote, ‘If you look good, you feel good.’ That's the durn truth,” he said, via the Clarion Ledger.
He’s also met with Golden Corral to get players a place to eat off campus, he said. In the weeks and months after his hire, donations have poured in to Jackson State. Golf star Phil Mickelson announced a $500,000 donation in September and selected the school as his HBCU to support in “The Match: Champions for Change” golf tournament alongside Steph Curry, Charles Barkley and Peyton Manning.
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