HOUSTON - Deion Sanders brought a lot of ‘Prime Time’ attention to Jackson State and Black college football in just a few years.
His departure comes with a lot of mixed reviews from those who are loyal to the HBCU culture after the Hall of Famer left JSU for a head coaching position at the University of Colorado Boulder, a Division 1 institution.
Some enthusiasts and HBCU alums claim his exit is a slap in the face to those athletes who played for him, while others say it's the cost of doing business in the sport.
"For folks who have been around football, you knew he wanted to be a Division 1 Coach, a Power 5 Coach," says Devan Wade of KTSU 90.9 FM. "It wasn't out of the realm of possibility."
White says the discussions about Sanders are passionate because of what comes with the HBCU culture - generations of families with pride in their respective schools and the Black college community. The way in which Sanders announced his departure was also viewed as tasteless, as he opted out of press interviews and announced it via social media shortly after JSU won the 2022 SWAC Championship.
"It's all about the disappointment that he left," says Wade. "He came with the message of taking this to the next level...and after a short period of time you leave, there's just a lot of disappointment."
In three seasons, Coach Prime brought an enormous amount of attention and network broadcast appeal to the SWAC conference, in an effort to highlight exemplary athletes and give them opportunities beyond college play. Wade also argues that the same level of influence was happening before Sanders made his way to JSU.
"It's hard to decipher what was his impact in the grand scheme. All the things that came after the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter Movements. That saw enrollment at HBCU's increase all over the country. I think he was a part of that."