It's TBD, but there are reasons "Prime Time" could succeed as a head coach
Well, Deion Sanders is now a college football head coach. The FCS program Jackson State recently announced that "Prime Time" would be the head coach for its upcoming season, which has been delayed until the spring because of COVID-19. The timing works out well for Sanders who will finish serving as offensive coordinator this fall at Trinity Christian School in Dallas, where his son plays quarterback. After that season ends, he will take the reins of the storied Mississippi-based HBCU (Historically Black College and University) program, which has produced four Hall of Famers, including Walter Payton and Jackie Slater.
There are many reasons this could potentially be a bust, including Sanders' lack of head coaching experience and the financial mismanagement of Prime Prep Academy, a charter school he co-founded that closed in 2015. However, there are also reasons why the greatest shutdown corner in NFL history could succeed. Here are five.
5. The bar is low
Jackson State has not had a winning season since 2013 and has cycled through three head coaches since then. While Sanders has no experience as a head coach and likely won't have several seasons to build a winning program, he cannot be expected to turn everything around in a year.
4. Name recognition and reputation
If you're a four- or five-star recruit and Deion Sanders wants to come to your home and talk about your future, are you going to say no? That's what I thought.
3. Commitment to HBCUs
Even though he played for Florida State, Sanders has shown a commitment to HBCUs. This year, he had announced the HBCU Combine, where 50 handpicked players from HBCUs would work out for NFL teams before the draft, but it was canceled because of COVID-19. In an era where Black players are exploring forgoing Power Five programs for HBCUs for community and a better understanding of their culture and history, Sanders has the ability to recruit an elite team.
2. Media attention
Love or hate him, Sanders knows how to work the media. At a minimum, it's highly likely that "SportsCenter" and "College Football Final" will run sound from his postgame press conferences each week. This will only help generate national buzz that could further help with recruiting. For example, a three-star high school recruit who is worried about disappearing into anonymity at a Power Five program may opt for Jackson State, where he can still receive national attention if he shines. The extra media attention can also assist with fundraising for the program.
1. Access to coaches
Sanders has said he wants to fill his coaching roster with former college and NFL players. He will have to choose his personnel carefully, but his 35 years as a player in college and the NFL and a broadcaster give him a large pool of relationships to work with as he builds his staff.
If Sanders fails, there will be plenty of opportunities to do a postmortem on his time at Jackson State. Right now, I'm just excited to see how this plays out.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Top photo courtesy of @GoJSUTigers)