This is the position Deion Sanders has become used to.
All the attention centered on him. That’s the world Sanders, a football hall of famer and NFL analyst has lived for the last four decades in front of America through gold chains, high-steps, and slick statements.
Sanders has been described as brash, flamboyant — the embodiment of self-indulgence — and the kind of kinetic individuality displayed in team sports that all added up to one of the more charismatic personalities of our time.
On Monday, everyone can now call him simply head coach.
Sanders was introduced as head football coach at Jackson State University to play the role of savior, even if the expectations are unrealistic and too lofty.
But early on, with the hype and everything else that takes up space in the Deion Sanders’ hemisphere, there will be a level of promise not experienced at JSU in a long time.
The Tigers football program is a historically proud one. Those with a connection to it frequently throw around the word tradition as if it’s affixed to the university’s masthead.
JSU is supposed to relevant. It’s almost treated as a birthright for the football team to be vying for championships yearly.
The last six years, though, the program has been home to the land of misfit coaches who — through no fault of their own — never were able to perform up to the level synonymous with the dominance once routine a generation ago.
They were either too old, too inexperienced, or too far removed from the game.
Sanders fits the disturbing archetype in a few of those categories. He’s in his 50s. He’s never been a coordinator let alone a head coach in college. However, he’s a fixture in the game. The pro football relationships aside, Sanders has toiled away at the high school ranks, cutting his coaching teeth teaching and mentoring youngsters.
This side of football — the grind of coaching — does appear to be a passion for Sanders despite that gargantuan persona.
Sanders was the head coach at the Prime Prep Academy charter school from 2012 to 2015 until the school shut down because of financial problems. He was the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas, where his sons play football under his watchful eye.
There will be questions about whether Sanders will be committed to this life. To the existence of going on the road recruiting, developing game plans, culture and handling the trials of doing this at the HBCU rung.
Athletic director Ashley Robinson hired Sanders in part for the name recognition and the possible doors that could be opened for JSU because of the partnership.
Sanders shouldn’t be viewed as a figurehead. While he might strut out of the tunnel as the Sonic Boom of the South marching band jams in tow whenever football resumes, Sanders is not here to provide a spectacle. He’s in Jackson to win games — something JSU has not done consistently enough in years.
“Coach Prime” better get used to his new normal.