Deion Sanders saw the videos as Florida State “fans” burned his jerseys and torched various items of memorabilia.
Witnessed their very visceral reactions to Travis Hunter, arguably the No. 1 overall college football prospect in the 2022 class, when Hunter elected to sign with Sanders’ Jackson State Tigers football program and not Coach Prime’s alma mater, Florida State.
It all left Sanders asking a couple of questions during a recent appearance on The Rich Eisen Show.
Especially considering Sanders revealed he has on more than one occasion recruited for his alma mater – prior to Sanders’ own foray into the collegiate coaching ranks.
“I don’t (Hunter) ever belonged to them,” Sanders said after Eisen asked him about taking away Hunter from Florida State. “I don’t think I took him, I don’t think he ever belonged to them.
“This is something I don’t understand, and I wasn’t going to say this, Rich, but you’re my guy, so I’m going to say it on your show: I think it was the year before, or the year before that, (Florida State’s) head coach (Mike Norvel), who I’m very fond of, who I think is a great coach, who I think is going to do tremendous feats for my alma mater, called me to help him recruit a kid out of Louisiana. And, I FaceTimed the kid, I FaceTimed the mother and I did my thing.
“Florida State has been using me for years to do what I do, to help influence these kids to come to my wonderful alma mater. No problems. I did it. I believe the kid signed. So what’s the difference in me doing that and doing it for myself? So it was good enough for you, but it’s not good enough for me? That’s what I have a problem with. So you’re saying now, I’m good enough to get you players, or I’m not good enough to get me players. Which one is it? Or we’re not good enough at Jackson State? Or I’m not good enough as a person? I would like that answered.”
Sanders doubled-down with his somewhat-rhetorical question.
“You know how long, how many years Florida State has been selling me and my accolades, and what I’ve accomplished to come to that wonderful and prestigious university, which I’m proud of?,” Sanders said. “So if I’m going to sell me, why don’t I sell me? You’re selling me. I can’t sell me? Just something to ponder.”
Sanders also continued to strike back against the pervasive whispers throughout the coaching ranks that Sanders and the Tigers’ football program had “guaranteed” Hunter a Name, Image and Likeness deal to flip his commitment from FSU and sign with Jackson State.
“Because people are always astonished for what they haven’t seen,” Sanders said of what prompted such an intense reaction and speculation on the Hunter signing. “They hadn’t seen a young man of that caliber go to an HBCU in the last 30 years. That’s why they were surprised. The idiots start to think foul play. If we had funding, now we could play the game like everybody else plays the game. I gave you a nugget within that last comment. …
“I don’t lie. When I talk to parents, I tell them the truth. I’m not promising your son any number, I’m not promising him he’s going to start I’m not promising him an NIL deal. I’m promising you he’s going to come here, get good education, work his butt off and earn every dern thing he gets. That’s it.
“We can’t guarantee that, we can’t promise you that. I don’t have those type of contacts like, ‘Hey, Man, I’m going to get you this NIL deal.’ That don’t come along with me. What comes along with me is if you ball, not if, I never say if, when you ball, when you do what you need to do and you show that type of promise and you clean up the whole external make up of yourself, and you just clean up your whole game, I’m pretty sure endorsers will want to partner with you. But tell me something, I might be crazy, but why would a company want a kid out of high school?”
Sanders said it made sense for companies who wished to align themselves and partner with student-athletes after they have begun to prove themselves at the collegiate level, but he did not understand how a company would benefit from being aligned with a prep prospect.
Likewise, Sanders doesn’t understand the benefit – beyond the bottom-line from a fiscal standpoint – of taking his Football Championship Subdivision team up a level to play Football Bowls Subdivision competition.
“That’s not the goal right now,” Sanders said of potentially taking his JSU squad into an Southeastern Conference venue. “The goal is to dominate where you are. Not win, but to dominate where you are. Then you look forward down the line to scheduling some of those games.
“Right now, those games are financially beatdowns. And that’s what I call them. That’s what some HBCUs choose to do. I’m going to go to these various schools and I’m going to get my butt kicked and I’m going to walk out of there with $750,000 or a million dollars. That’s not worth it to me. To me, that’s the ultimate sellout to children. I know I’m not going to win, I’m going to lose three or four players to injury, and you’re going to humiliate my team and I’m going to have to build them back up next week to play again, that doesn’t make any sense to me.
“Like if I know I had the team, the interior line, defensively and offensively, as well as a nice rotation and substitution, can withstand that, I’ll do it. Because I know the skill positions are already suitable; they can do it. But where the difference lies is the offensive and defensive lines. That’s where there’s a difference.”