Sanders wins SWAC, bolts for Colorado
By:LUT WILLIAMS BCSP Editor
Jackson State 43, Southern 24
JACKSON, MS – West Division champ Southern dug itself a 26-0 first-quarter deficit that was too much to overcome as the Jaguars fell to undefeated East Division champ Jackson State 43-24 in the 24th SWAC Championship Game here Saturday evening. Southern committed three first-quarter turnovers that Jackson State and quarterback Shedeur Sanders turned into 23 points in building the early lead. Southern kept fighting and came back to outscore JSU 24-17 over the rest of the game but never threatened to overtake the Tigers.
The win for head coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders completed a perfect 12-0 season for the nationally-ranked Tigers and was their second straight championship game win. Coach Sanders and son Shedeur led the Tigers to a 27-10 win over Prairie View A&M in last year’s title game.Shedeur completed 31 of 44 passes for 305 yards and four TDs without an interception to earn the game’s MVP award. He led the JSU hurry-up offense to perfection without an interception. Senior wide receiver Shane Hooks hauled in five receptions for 86 yards and two TDs to lead JSU receivers. Running back Sy’Veon Wilkerson added a TD on 61 rushing yards as JSU rolled up 425 offensive yards. Despite the early deficit, Southern turned to third-string quarterback Glendon McDaniel who made things interesting. McDaniel got the Jaguars (7-5) on the board early in the second quarter on a 4-yard TD run and later led a late second quarter drive that ended with a 39-yard Joshua Griffin field goal at the halftime buzzer. The Jags went
into the break down 33-10.
He then connected with Chandler Whitfield on a 34-yard TD pass after Southern blocked a JSU punt early in the third quarter. Later in the period, he scored on a 42-yard draw play to pull SU within 36-24. McDaniel finished with 382 total yards, 162 rushing and 220 passing. JSU, who came in giving up 10 points and 210 yards per game, gave up double those numbers – 412 yards and 24 points – to the McDaniel-led Southern offense.
The win earns JSU a second straight trip representing the SWAC at the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta. The Tigers will face 9-2 MEAC champion North Carolina Central at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Dec. 17. JSU lost in last year’s Celebration Bowl to MEAC champion South Carolina State, 31-10.
Jackson State head coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders was in somewhat of a hurry after his undefeated (12-0) Tigers took care of Southern in Saturday evening’s SWAC Championship game in Jackson, Ms. (see SWAC Championship Game Recap). He had a plane to catch.
Midnight plane to Boulder
Not long after the 43-24 JSU win in the title game, Sanders and a small entourage boarded a plane bound for Boulder, Colorado. They were on board for a late-night tour of the football facilities at the University of Colorado who officially announced at 10:27 p.m. via Twitter that Sanders had taken the job as the new head coach of the Buffaloes.
Speculation had swirled all week that Sanders, the mercurial former NFL star and Hall of Famer, would bolt from his perch at JSU after posting a 27-5 record in two-plus years and back-to-back SWAC championships, to take
over at the Power 5, Pac-12 school.Media hordes were in fact lined up in the tiny postgame interview room at Jackson’s Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium Saturday night awaiting Sanders’ arrival and anticipating the announcement. But they (we) were foiled when it was announced he and his star players would not attend. Instead, they (we) were told, Sanders and
his team were returning to the JSU campus for a team meeting.
Sanders tells the team
At the team meeting, Sanders officially informed his team that he was indeed taking the Colorado job. A video of the meeting later appeared on Youtube.com.”I wanted you all to hear it from me and not from anyone else,” Sanders said to the team, his coaching staff and others. “In coaching, you get elevated or you get terminated. Ain’t no other way. There ain’t no graveyard for coaches where they die at the place. It don’t work like that.
They’re either gon’ run you off or you’re gon’ walk off upon your own recognizance.
“I’ve chosen to accept the job elsewhere next year,” Sanders said. He then promised that he would coach the team in its Dec. 17 date in Atlanta in the Celebration Bowl versus MEAC champion N. C. Central.”At that conclusion (of the Celebration Bowl), we will move on,” he said In his 15-minute speech and a short question-and-answer session that followed, Sanders urged players to stay at JSU and not enter the transfer portal. He also recommended to JSU Athletics Director Ashley Robinson,who was present and next to Sanders, that wide receivers coach T. C. Taylor replace him.
“If I heard God’s voice on coming (to Jackson State), don’t second-guess of my hearing ability,” Sanders said of his decision. “I know God. And I know when He shifts and I know when He moves and I know how He gets down with me,” Sanders said”I understand the calling He (God) has on my life,” Sanders said reflecting on the many teams he played for in professional football and baseball.
Sanders said four African-Americans have been fired from major college football head coaching jobs this year and no African-Americans other than him have been hired to replace them.”To me, that’s a problem,” Sanders said. “If someone don’t step up and step out and hold it down for us, there’s a problem. And many detractors, I guess they don’t understand that
college football consists of 70 percent AfricanAmericans I don’t care where you’re at. It just happens to be more at an HBCU.
“But, it’s not like I’m not gonna to speak into the lives of young African-American men and women alike (at Colorado) because my challenge is still to provoke change no matter where I am.
“I’m 55 and I don’t plan on changing any time soon. God made me like this. And I think God is pleased with what He created.” What is ‘a bag’”And it’s not about a bag,” Sanders said in reference to a term (‘a bag’) used by rappers to indicate a large sum of money.
“I’ve been making money a long time and I ain’t no where near broke,” he said. “So, it’s not about a bag. But it is about an opportunity. So, I always felt like if you dominate your opportunity and you treat people right, the bag is gon’ always come.
“I never chased a bag, a bag has always chased me cause I’ve always tried to make the right decisions and do the right thing regarding people, regarding decisions. regarding life. “It hadn’t been too many times where I was meant to stay right and I took a left. Maybe a couple of marriages, I take that back,” Sanders said, a statement that drew some laughter and out-loud comments from his son Shedeur.
The reaction to Sanders’ decision has run the gamut from grudging acceptance and gratitude to derision. Jackson State’s official statement from
Robinson thanked him for energizing and elevating the Tigers back to “championship prominence.”
In an address, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba talked about “gratitude” that flows both ways.He talked about how the city has benefitted
from the “increased revenue” from visitors coming to JSU games and how the national exposure has “lifted the profile” of the university, its students and athletes.
It’s also an opportunity where I believe Coach Prime is grateful and should be grateful that Jackson loved him first,” the mayor said. “That he should be grateful that he was given an opportunity that was not extended in other places. It has enabled his abilities to be viewed in the light of others more globally. Others were more harsh in their assessment. Carron J. Phillips on Deadspin.com wrote a story with the headline “Deion Sanders’ pimping
of Jackson State and HBCU culture is over.”
“Sanders wasn’t a savior for HBCUs, he was the Pied Piper playing a hypnotizing song that put those who refused to educate themselves on
his past into a trance,” Phillips said in his piece. “Sanders didn’t care about making HBCUs better. He cared about making the one that paid him better – until he could parlay that into a better opportunity for him and his sons at a PWI (Predominantly White Institution).”