Should Sanders Be a ‘Prime Time’ Head Coaching Target for Major College Programs?

Image: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

This time of year isn’t all that different from past years when the college head football coaching carousel begins its usual out-of-control spin with lots of names and faces being bantered about for jobs. This offseason, some of the top-tier jobs in all of college football had vacancies that didn’t stay open long—and that’s assuming they were ever really open to begin with.

It’s a reminder of how the hiring practices in the world of college football and corporate America are very much alike, with many of the top jobs filled before they officially open up—which provides little to no competition—and in doing so, an undeniable lack of diversity in the hiring process.

Which is why the low-key calls on social media for Deion Sanders—EBONY’s Power 100 Gamechanger of the Year—to be considered for some of the still available head coaching gigs at bigger institutions than Jackson State, needs to be amplified.

The issue isn’t whether Sanders should be hired by any school. The fact that he doesn’t appear to, for now at least, be given any real consideration by the powers-that-be for any of the jobs in Power 5 conferences, is troubling. We have seen countless examples of HBCU excellence in the coaching ranks being given little to no opportunity for advancement.

Sanders can change that narrative if given an opportunity to compete for one of the higher-profile jobs available.

Schools have every reason to be concerned that Sanders and that megawatt personality that he brings with him wherever he goes, might make success more about him than the program.

Two words for you: So what!

Do you think Alabama really cares if Nick Saban, who does some pretty funny commercials with Sanders these days, is considered a bigger deal than the school? He wins championships. He recruits the best of the best high school talent, every year. And his players go on to the NFL to make millions. Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

No one is saying Sanders is in the same league as Saban or any of the established greats in college football. But here’s what you have to remember: they weren’t always great college coaches. At some point along their journey, they got an opportunity based more on their potential for greatness rather than a proven body of work.

Sanders is at that point in his still-young coaching career, leading Jackson State in his second season to a 10-1 record while being named the SWAC Coach of the Year.

We have seen in other sports like the NBA, where coaches with little to no experience coaching on any level, are afforded opportunities to not just lead but take over built-to-win-now squads like Steve Kerr in Golden State, and more recently Steve Nash in Brooklyn.

You can debate all you want as to whether Kerr and Nash deserved those jobs. But what’s not in question is the fact that they got an opportunity based on factors that went beyond head coaching experience. Kerr’s experience in being a teammate of Michael Jordan’s along with having spent some time in an NBA front office (Phoenix) prior to becoming the Warriors head coach, gave him a unique insight which has helped him be among the most successful coaches in the NBA. As for Nash, he was a two-time league MVP whose role varied with teams; but his ability to impact games at a high level more times than not, remained the same.

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Having a unique background with unique experiences is part of the draw for Sanders. He was a perennial All-Pro NFL cornerback/returner who was part of two Super Bowl-winning teams. Upon completion of his 14 NFL seasons, he was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame (2011) and is considered one of the 100 greatest NFL players ever!

And his side hustle back in the day?

He played Major League Baseball for nine seasons, finishing his career with a .263 batting average. Sanders is the only athlete ever to play in a Super Bowl and the World Series. He’s the only athlete to hit a Major League home run and score a touchdown in the NFL…in the same week.

Whether you think he’s a good coach or not, is not the point.

It’s about opportunity; something that Sanders more times than not has been able to make the most out of when given to him.

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