Back with his Jackson State football program and continuing his recovery from foot surgery and subsequent health issues, Deion Sanders is focusing on having the Tigers finish out their fall 2021 season in style – but not disputing reports that Sanders is a person of interest for other coaching opportunities.
Speaking on the Southwestern Athletic Conference's weekly head coaches' Zoom call for the first time since October 18, Sanders discussed more in-depth his lengthy hospital stay and his work atop the Tigers' program less than 14 months after his hiring.
“It's been tough,” Sanders said. “It hasn't been easy. I don't know if most of you know, except for Shilo (Sanders' son), because he went to South Carolina. My kids had never played a game without me. Never missed a game. That wasn't easy man. That's not only my team here at Jackson State, these are my kids.
“It was tremendously tough. Tremendously tough.”
Hospitalized for several weeks, Sanders said he could not leave his room to return to his JSU program but also indicated he remained in contact with his coaching staff – especially on gamedays as Gary Harrell handled the head coaching duties.
“I wasn't able to come up here when I was out, that's the thing,” Sanders said. “We (Sanders and JSU A.D. Ashley Robinson) spoke often, we spoke quite a bit. More so than anything I looked forward Saturdays, gamedays. It kept me motivated, kept me uplifted, kept me inspired. Me having my phone, and could work my fingers, letting them know what we needed to do during the course of the game was phenomenal, too. Seeing the message relayed. I had fun doing that.”
Per multiple sources and as has been reported in various outlets, Sanders interviewed last week for the vacancy at TCU after the Horned Frogs separated last month from longtime coach Gary Patterson.
Sanders did not outright deny the interview with TCU officials, which per sources was conducted via video conference from Sanders' hospital room and saw the first-year head coach “really impress,” but the former NFL and MLB star emphasized more than just Jackson State and TCU had interest in him.
“Well, TCU is not the only one interested in my services,” Sanders emphasized. “Ashley Robinson is interested in my services and finishing out what I completed.
“Never believe rumors, especially when I've been in the hospital dern-near a month. Never just go out there and believe what you hear. But trust me, TCU and several others are not the only ones interested in what we do here at Jackson State. They're trying to figure out the formula. There ain't no formula, man; it's loving on these kids, challenging these kids, holding these kids accountable. Making sure they maintain themselves to be smart, tough, fast and disciplined. That's the secret. Not everyone has this recipe.”
Sanders was asked if he contemplated other jobs during his lengthy stay in a Jackson, Mississippi-area hospital.
“You mean when I was in the hospital bed for dern-near a month? You mean that time,” Sanders said. “Think about that, what you just asked me: I'm in a hospital bed trying to come back, period, and you think I'm thinking about coming back, period, and you think I'm thinking about coaching at a college?
“It's on a lot of folks' minds. Not our folks. I'm in a hospital bed, in a fight, a real fight. Nobody on this (video) line has no idea what I've gone through. You just can assume, guess.”
Likewise, Sanders reiterated the seriousness of his health, though he did not divulge additional details, and dismissed talk of Sanders' candidacy for additional head coaching opportunities.
Sources have told FootballScoop that in addition to the TCU position, Sanders could become a person of interest for subsequent Power 5 head coaching opportunities.
“You think I'm in a dern wheelchair just to be in a wheelchair because I'm stuntin?,” Sanders asked. “I'm a dog, man. I'm a man's man. I like to do stuff on my own. I'm being helped in the car, out of the car, to the bathroom, out the bathroom.
“You think I'm thinking about departing and doing this or doing that? I'm thinking about my life. How I can bless the multitudes and God ain't finished with me yet. How I can help the next man up, the next sister raise her kids whose daddy ain't doing his. How I can bring us together, unite us, how I can stop the dern killing in Jackson, Miss. How we can have a wonderful weekend and have 60,000 black folks as well as white folks and hispanic folks and not have one killing. …
“The story ain't half told, and God is good. Remember, that. God bless you all.”