Is Jackson State Proving That It Isn't Ready for Primetime?

In exactly five months since being named Jackson State University head football coach, Deion Sanders has done hundreds of interviews, recruited dozens of top tier football athletes from around the country, been at the center of discussions on development for two reality television shows (a College Hill reboot and his own property), been robbed twice and won a single football game.

It is the precise impact and drenching you would expect from a shark landing in a small pond. But what we didn’t expect is that the stress of Sanders’ magnetic personality and his mouth would test the infrastructure of JSU’s athletic department so early and that the infrastructure would be so blatantly exposed.

The sports information office has been now accused of lying twice, first by the media and yesterday by Sanders himself.

Sanders has not minced words about how JSU misses the mark in the condition of its facilities, nutrition for players, and now, its security personnel and systems. Months ago, most people could’ve made the case that Sanders was working hard to stir up investment and public support in the program.

But this isn’t an appeal for help and belief; this is now calling out the entire JSU community for its failure to buy into the Sanders era and for being too broke to buy into anything that would induce him to stay with the university for several years.

We all knew that Sanders would be his own public relations machine at Jackson State, and that the school would either rise with his lofty ambitions or sink under the weight of his bigger-than-life personality. Given the emerging story arc of his time in Mississippi, Sanders has positioned himself as a well-intentioned victim; a high-profile Black athlete trying to do right by his people, only to be betrayed by low aim and shady dealings within a Black community.

Whether he intends it or not, Sanders is making Thee Jackson State, one of the HBCU sector’s largest, most acclaimed institutions in research, sports, political clout and social impact, look like a podunk Black college community that can’t get right. And the people trying to manage Primetime aren’t helping their cause with poor media management, bungled operations on who can access what facilities and areas at what times, and failure to be on the same page with its head coach.

Jackson State beat Edward Waters College 53-0 yesterday in Deion Sanders’ coaching debut. And yet, it feels like the Jackon State University community should have every reason to look ahead at a season full of L’s that will have little to do with what happens on a field.