Deion Sanders Hypes Up GameDay Visiting Jackson State

Deion Sanders is no stranger to publicity and the importance of media, and his experience is already paying dividends for the Jackson State Tigers.

Since Sanders took over in 2020, he’s helped spur an almost immediate turnaround in the program’s fortunes.

In 2021, the Tigers went 11-2 and won the program’s first SWAC championship in 14 seasons.

This year, Sanders has them poised to finish with an even better record, starting 7-0 overall and 4-0 in conference play.

The dramatic rise has culminated in one of the biggest moments for the program in recent history, as College GameDay brings national attention to the FCS school.

Last week, the team’s homecoming game drew nearly 52,000 fans, and according to Mississippi’s Clarion-Ledger, Sanders wants that excitement and momentum to become an expected part of Jackson State football.

“You’ve got to understand it’s a level of excitement but then there’s a level of expectation,” Sanders said. “I expect stuff like this. I really do. Why not us? Everybody always wears the shirt (with) ‘Why not us.’ But they don’t really believe what’s on the shirt half the time.”

Deion Sanders on the sidelines.
Head coach Deion Sanders of the Jackson State Tigers reacts on the sidelines against the Florida A&M Rattlers during the Orange Blossom Classic Game at Hard Rock Stadium on September 04, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

He continued, explaining that when he got the news about GameDay visiting town, his first thought was essentially, what took so long?

“I really think like that. Why hadn’t you come yet?”

While saying he expected ESPN to eventually shine a light on the program, he wanted to reinforce that he does fully understand the importance of a major kickoff show choosing to visit a small, HBCU school in the FCS.

“I don’t think our kids understand the magnitude,” Sanders said. “They really don’t. The grown folks do. But I don’t think we as HBCUs understand the magnitude of ‘College GameDay’ being here. We don’t.”

With this level of exposure, success and expectations, it makes it a bit more believable that Sanders claims he isn’t interested in leaving for an NFL coaching position.

Deion Sanders Wants Local Support

By rallying support amongst the locals, Sanders hopes to create a culture where the spotlight is an expected, routine part of the program.

“I just hope we as a city and as a school – we always talk about culture – understand the magnitude of what’s about to transpire,” Sanders said. “I hope we do our homework as a city and I’m not just putting this on the students. I mean as a city, to come out and support this GameDay and make sure it is what it normally is and then some on a weekly basis.

He’s right to try and win the support of locals in Jackson; the more impressive the backdrop and the more crowd energy visible on the broadcast, the more likely it is that GameDay and other shows like it will return to Mississippi.

Clearly, the attendance is there to support that kind of expectation, compared to major programs like UCLA, where no one shows up.

With a good showing on Saturday, Jackson State can position itself to be the signature FCS program, exactly what they’d envisioned when Sanders joined the program.

Deion has always been great at using the media, and if he has his way, GameDay will be the next publicity campaign he uses to get what he wants.

Written by Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a former award watching high school actor, ice cream expert and long suffering Dodgers fan. He spends most of his time golfing, eating as much pizza as humanly possible, reading about World War I history, and trying to get the remote back from his dog. Follow him on Twitter.

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