Everyone who's ever heard of Deion Sanders seems to have an opinion on his move to Colorado.
People were left both hopeful and hurt by his decision to leave Jackson State University, a Historically Black University, for a Power 5 school. On one hand, a Black coach got an opportunity to coach at a Division I FBS school where, as of Dec. 4, there are only 12 Black head coaches at that level. On the other, Coach Prime left one of the many institutions he vowed to bring to historic relevancy after only three years.
"There's a lot of layers here..." Jemele Hill said on the Dan Le Batard Show on Wednesday. "This was absolutely, from a career standpoint, the right move for him to make. This is what happens in college football. You go to a program, you make it successful for a few years and then you leave. We see coaches do it all the time."
Sanders is the first HBCU head coach to get a Power 5 job and the second Black HBCU coach to get an FBS job since Wichita State hired Willie Jeffries in 1979.
"It is a lot different because of who we're talking about," Hill said. "We're talking about Jackson State University, a historically Black college... At a lot of HBCU institutions, they have a very storied, proud history when it comes to college football."
Hill said that college football wouldn't look how it does today without the traditions of HBCUs because so many legendary college athletes succeeded at HBCUs during the time of segregation in college football.
In the advent of integration, Hill said, HBCUs "lost a lot," including their ability to attract top recruits and retain athletic budgets.
Take the 1970 meeting between an integrated USC team and an all-white Alabama team. The Trojans defeated the Tide 42-21. The next year, the Tide added its first Black varsity player, John Mitchell, to the roster. They finished the 1970 season at 6-5-1 and the 1971 season at 11-1. Recruiting talent, not race, slowly became the norm.
Now, Alabama is one of the largest landing spots for sought-after talent in part because of its winning history and athletic budget.
In the 2019 fiscal year, Alabama spent $185.3 million on its athletic programs, per Yahoo. Jackson State's athletic budget is about $4 million.
"Compare that to say, University of Texas, who has $200+ million athletic budget," Hill said. "All of their budgets are not even as good as Ivy League athletic budgets."
The SEC brought in $777.8 million of total revenue for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The money, divided amongst the 14 universities that make up the SEC, averaged slightly over $54.6 million per institution.
While Jackson State couldn't compete with FBS athletic budgets, it could make a run for the spotlight with Sanders at the helm.
Key word: Could.
That doesn't minimize what Sanders did for Jackson State in his three years. In July, Sanders announced that he would donate half his $300,000 annual salary to help finish Jackson State's football operations facility.
He also led the Tigers to a historic 12-0 season and a Southwestern Athletic Conference championship title. Sanders was 27-5 overall at Jackson State.
"I don't blame people who want to celebrate Deion Sanders for moving on to the next level and getting an opportunity that never happens to head coaches who coach Black college football..." Hill said. "On the other side of it, yes, people are going to be hurt because of what, historically, Black colleges mean, how they're trying to build and because there is a different sense of community at a Black college than at other institutions."