Connell Maynor. Deion Sanders.
Alabama A&M. Jackson State.
Deion Sanders. Connell Maynor.
Jackson State. Alabama A&M.
With apologies to another Magnolia State head coach, get your popcorn for this game.
Maybe no contest in all of college football this week matches the flair and showmanship of the Jackson State at Alabama A&M Southwestern Conference tilt.
Sanders' Tigers at Maynor's Bulldogs. Kickoff is 3 p.m. (ESPN+ has the broadcast).
First fall season as competitors; no love lost.
Monday's weekly SWAC coaches' teleconference/videoconference showed as much.
“Hey, Coach Sanders, I hurt my ankle getting off the bus the other day,” Maynor said, unprompted at the end of his session. “You got an extra scooter for me? If you got an extra scooter, send me one down here.”
Sanders recently tweeted video and praised the JSU medical team after he needed surgery on his foot and required a mobile medical scooter to navigate.
For his part, Sanders took a more wait-and-see approach to this weekend's game and refused to respond to Maynor's request.
“It's a little rivalry, it's a little blood in between,” Sanders said. “You know, the coach says something about me, I don't shoot back. Because I don't do that because I'm really good at that. I'm on this high road right now. I take the high road, right? I'm a different dude. So I don't do that. But you know, everybody is waiting for me to do that at the conclusion of this matter.
“We're just going to have to sit and see. Am I going to do that?”
Regardless, both coaches on Monday offered praise – and veiled shots at their opposition this weekend.
Maynor praised the Jackson State defense but also questioned why the Tigers' offense – headed by Deion Sanders' son, quarterback Shedeur Sanders – had not scored more points.
Coming off its bye week, JSU is 3-1 but has been limited to a touchdown in two of four games.
“Coach Sanders has done a good job with those guys in a short period of time,” Maynor said. “Their biggest improvement has been on defense. Got a good defense, not giving up a lot of points.
“Offensively, they're not as good as they were last year for whatever reason. Shedeur, Deion's son, is playing well at quarterback but for whatever reason they're just not putting up the points they did last year (under a different quarterback). They'll get it worked out. Hopefully not this week.
“They got a good football team. We got to be ready to play and we will.”
Sanders praised the Bulldogs' offense but not their defense.
“Alabama A&M came here and they played their butts off,” Sanders said of the spring meeting. “Their quarterback had a tremendous game, those receivers lit us up. Defensively, they were OK. But offensively they did what they needed to do to get out of here with a victory.”
What's the challenge this week, as A&M enters after a somewhat surprising 37-28 loss to Grambling in a game the Bulldogs led 14-0?
Sanders points not to his own quarterback but to A&M's Aqeel Glass.
“Well, you gotta put pressure on the quarterback and make him become accurate,” Sanders said of Glass, who's coming off a four-touchdown, four-interception game and has six interceptions through four games. “He has to be accurate. You know how we do it. We come at you. Ain't no sugar-coating nothing. You know we comin.”