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Deion Sanders blasts Jackson State's schedule: 'Dern Classics' cost Tigers home games, money

Coach Prime's Tigers face Tennessee State this week in the Southern Heritage Classic

One day after his nationally ranked Jackson State squad throttled rival Florida A&M in Miami, Deion Sanders sounded off on his program’s football schedule during Monday’s Southwestern Athletic Conference coaches’ teleconference.

The Tigers (1-0), 59-3 winners against a Rattlers team that last week tallied 24 points against Atlantic Coast Conference and Football Bowls Subdivision program North Carolina, are yet again away from their home stadium this week as they face Tennessee State in what Sanders proclaims is going to be Jackson State’s last-ever appearance in the Southern Heritage Classic at Memphis’ Liberty Bowl.

A considerable amount of uncertainty faces Sanders and the JSU program as the state of Mississippi, and specifically their hometown of Jackson, struggles with crippling water issues that are receiving state and national attention as a federal disaster.

“Vital. Shoot, we don’t have a home game if we don’t,” Sanders said of getting to play inside Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. “We’re already giving away three games to these dern Classics, which I don’t like.

“We’re gonna give away three games, which I don’t like. Those could be 3 home games. That’s more revenue for this team, this school, this community, all of us. I don’t even want to go into that. It’s vital we play at home. Like Dorothy said on the ‘Wizard of Oz’ there’s no place like home. Didn’t she? We love playing at home.”

In addition to the opening tilt against FAMU in Miami’s Orange Blossom Classic and this week’s Southern Heritage Classic, the Tigers also are scheduled to face SWAC foe Alabama A&M in the Gulf Coast Challenge in Mobile, Alabama, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium – home to college football’s top all-star game, the Senior Bowl.

With Sanders barnstorming his program’s brand on all platforms, he believes home games better serve the Tigers than these neutral site contests that are both costing the entire JSU ecosystem money as well as denying his players and their fan base chances to see one another at home.

“We love when kids get off that bus and take that walk and fans are screaming and adoring and the ‘Sonic Boom’ (band) is playing,” Sanders said. “We can feel everybody. We can feel 60 (thousand fans).

“I’m crazy enough to believe every time we walk in that stadium we’re gonna feel 60,000 this year. We’re not accepting nothing less, it should be (capacity crowds). We feel like we got a really good team, a really good staff, a really good fan base and a really good band. … Everything is going on all cylinders right now. We want to take advantage of that. We must play at home.”

Already publicly stating this is his team’s final appearance in the Memphis event, Sanders isn’t backing down from that stance despite the Summitt Management Corporation – which manages the Southern Heritage Classic – filing suit in Memphis against the Tigers in regards to what the company labels is an attempt to breach a contract that calls for two more Tennessee State-Jackson State meetings the next two seasons.

“We’re there to play football,” Sanders said of this week’s game, calling it a match up against his “dear” friend Eddie George – the TSU head coach. “I don’t know how this could be awkward, when you come to play football. The purpose is to play football and that’s what we’re coming to play.

“As far as the business aspect of that, that’s not beneficial to us, it’s not suitable to us. We love the Classic, it’s a wonderful Classic. We just don’t want to play it. It’s a great Classic, I think they do a wonderful job. We just choose not to take place in it anymore.”