Frequent interviews, light-hearted social media banter and anything else to raise awareness of Jackson State University, this is how the Tigers head coach Deion Sander runs his football program – and he doesn’t change his style, he says. Sanders has drawn immense attention to HBCU football since arriving, and this year’s recruiting with a five-star signee Hunter Travis and others propelled Jackson State to prominence nationally.
As for those who think his coaching style is unconventional, Sanders doesn’t dwell on other opinions.
“I don’t care,” Sanders said in an interview with Complex Sports. “My team knows me, with social networks I speak to the country but I really speak to my team. So, I tell my team that there are only two starters here, everyone else is going to have to work. They know everything is competitive but these two guys are different, God cut them differently. The coaches think so. I’m just the one who’s not afraid to say what I feel. As for bringing in Ms. (Brittany) Renner, they have no idea the trials, tribulations and challenges these guys are going through personally and in their relationships.
“They’re leaving home for the first time and a big guy hasn’t gotten the attention he’s getting now because he’s got people left and right. I have to teach him not only football, I have to teach him the game of life so I have to bring in experts, that’s what we do, bring in experts to teach them the game of life, because that’s the game they all play days, not football. This game will be in December, this other game, they play it every day.”
The Pro Football Hall of Famer used his position at Jackson State for sponsorship opportunities, including a partnership with Aflac and Alabama head coach Nick Saban. The two clashed earlier this year over a discussion about name, image and likeness and how NIL is used in recruiting.
“Well, Coach Saban is actually funny,” Sanders said. “He is funny, quick-witted and very concise. I like to take these opportunities not only to shoot commercials, but also to glean from Coach Saban. It’s the magna cum laude, it’s the guy, it’s the benchmark. So any time I get a chance on set to talk to him about the acting, the recruiting, the staff, whatever, I take full advantage of it.”
The two coaches also often talk about game planning. Sanders says he speaks with Saban every chance he gets given his level of success.
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“A lot of things, but I’m not going to kiss and tell because I might be out of gems,” Sanders said.