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Deion Sanders Leaves Jackson State for Colorado

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Deion Sanders, the swashbuckling former N.F.L. star who in his first stint as a school coach shaped Jackson State right into a head-turning team, will take over the football program at Colorado, the university announced Saturday.

In three seasons at Jackson State, a historically Black university in Mississippi, Sanders lost only five games, upending a program that had been mired in mediocrity — or worse — for years. In 2021, Jackson State won the Southwestern Athletic Conference title for the primary time since 2007; on Saturday in Jackson, it claimed one other.

Hours later, Colorado announced that Sanders can be its coach.

With a private magnetism, a permanent brand and football mettle that attracted highschool recruits and talented transfers and yielded no shortage of public attention, Sanders cobbled together a Jackson State program that led the SWAC in offense and defense this season. Ahead of Saturday’s league title matchup, it averaged 37.5 points per game on offense, nearly a touchdown higher than its closest rival, and surrendered about 10 on defense.

But it surely seemed from near the beginning of his success that Sanders, whose record at Jackson State was 27-5, was someday sure for consideration to guide a program in a Power 5 conference.

With Colorado, which has posted two winning seasons since 2006, he’ll face one in every of the country’s best rebuilding challenges. The Buffaloes have been out there for a coach since Oct. 2, when the university ousted Karl Dorrell, whose team was 8-15 in his lower than three years in Boulder. Colorado finished this season with a 1-11 record, with its lone win coming in time beyond regulation on Oct. 15 over California.

“There have been quite a few highly qualified and impressive candidates concerned about becoming the subsequent head football coach at Colorado, but none of them had the pedigree, the knowledge and the flexibility to attach with student-athletes like Deion Sanders,” Rick George, the Colorado athletic director, said in an announcement. “Not only will Coach Prime energize our fan base, I’m confident that he’ll lead our program back to national prominence while leading a team of top quality and high character.”

At an upbeat, rollicking news conference Sunday, Sanders said he couldn’t put a timeline on a resurgence for Colorado, but he left little doubt that he believed he could orchestrate one.

“All you would like is a chance to win, to compete, to dominate, to be amongst the elite, to be amongst one of the best,” Sanders, addressing the athletic director, said Sunday. “And, darn it, I’m going to offer you that.”

The potential of Sanders exiting Jackson bubbled all through the week leading as much as Saturday’s conference championship game, partially since the coach acknowledged that Colorado had offered him its coaching job.

Colorado is taking something of a risk with Sanders, who relishes being “Coach Prime,” a nod to his longtime nickname, Prime Time. An excellent N.F.L. cornerback over 14 seasons who also played outfield in Major League Baseball — Colorado noted proudly that Sanders is the one person to have played within the Super Bowl and the World Series — he went on to guide Prime Prep Academy, which closed in 2015 amid academic, financial and legal troubles.

His coaching record at Jackson State, though, won him some respiration room and clear sway there. Sanders, sometimes publicly, urged for more resources to be dedicated to football at his school and other historically Black colleges and universities.

And he acknowledged throughout the season that the wide financial disparities in college athletics might lead him to go elsewhere, along with his coaching staff in tow.

In an announcement on Saturday night, Ashley Robinson, Jackson State’s athletic director, showed no bitterness toward his former coach.

“He challenged norms and transformed mind-sets of what was perceived to be possible to create recent visions for achievement while inspiring the community and making a highlight on H.B.C.U. sports and culture,” he said of Sanders. “I cannot thank him enough for his impact on me professionally and personally.”

Robinson said Jackson State would begin an “aggressive national search” for its next coach.

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