Deion Sanders and Eddie George share a longtime friendship that extends back to their playing days. The NFL legends will become rivals once again, but this time as coaches. Sanders’ Jackson State Tigers will battle the Tennessee State Tigers, led by their new head coach Eddie George. The two teams will meet in the Southern Heritage Classic at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis.
Deion Sanders is entering his second season at Jackson State
Deion Sanders signed on to be the head football coach at Jackson State University in 2020. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the college football season adjusted as players and teams opted out. Jackson State played a condensed schedule in spring 2021, finishing with a 4-3 record.
The Tigers recorded notable wins over Grambling State, Mississippi Valley State, and Alcorn State in the spring season. Sanders becoming the head man at Jackson State has already drawn more eyes to HBCU football.
The Pro Football Hall of Famer is now in his second season at the helm, and he has high expectations for his team. “Not only do you expect us to win,” Sanders said at the Southwestern Athletic Conference Media Day, per the Clarion-Ledger.
The Tigers won their season opener against Florida A&M in a 7-6 low-scoring affair. The game featured Sanders’ son Shedeur Sanders‘ debut as the starting quarterback. The young signal-caller scored the game’s only touchdown.
Although the offense failed to move the needle, the Tigers’ defense stepped up in a big way, keeping the Ramblers out of the end zone.
Coach Prime will likely be expecting a better overall performance when Jackson State takes on Tennessee State.
Eddie George is in his first season with Tennessee State
Tennessee State hired Eddie George as their new head football coach early in 2021. The Tennessee Titans great follows in the footsteps of Deion Sanders, as NFL legends who have made the transition to coaches at historically black colleges and universities.
Tennessee State played a spring season as well, finishing with a 2-5 record. The former Pro Bowl running back is looking to turn the program around. George lost his coaching debut as the Tigers fell to Grambling State in Week 1 of the college football season.
Things won’t get any easier in Week 2, as the Tigers will face a talented Jackson State squad. Deion Sanders’ team features several players who could potentially make it to the NFL, including cornerback De’Jahn Warren, linebacker Nyles Gaddy, and safety Shilo Sanders.
Deion Sanders spoke highly of George ahead of their matchup. “Unbelievable individual, what he’s going to do there, he’s going to provoke change each and every day he’s on campus,” he said per the Clarion-Ledger. “He’s a winner. That’s who he is, that’s who I understand how he is how he gets down.”
The friends will turn into rivals on the field when their rebuilding programs face off.
Deion Sanders is pushing for names to be included on jerseys
Since arriving at Jackson State, Deion Sanders has prided himself on being a change-maker. His latest plan may ruffle some feathers, but he doesn’t care.
After the Tigers’ season-opening win, Sanders called out that many HBCU football programs don’t feature the players’ names on the back of their jerseys.
“That’s the kind of stuff we take for granted,” he said per the Clarion-Ledger. “I don’t. I’m very detailed. That guy worked his butt off, did what he had to do, changed his whole composite of his thought process. We could at least put his darn name on the back of his jersey.”
Sanders believes in equality for all college athletic programs. He wants to level the playing field, and this small gesture could be more important than most realize.
“Don’t you think his mom and them want to see the baby name on the back of the jerseys?” Sanders asked. “Don’t you think his siblings, his friends, his family, his loved ones?”
Coach Prime later mentioned he has no problem paying for the team to have players’ names stitched to the back of their jerseys. He even offered to pay for all the SWAC schools to do the same.
Deion Sanders and Eddie George are in the positions they are to provoke change. Being such prominent names in the sport will certainly, though it’s easier said than done.
The battle between the NFL legends-turned-coaches will certainly draw solid viewership.