Deion Sanders has made his excitement known to have his Jackson State program set to play a second-straight year in the prestigious Orange Blossom Classic against Florida A&M in Miami.
Likewise, Sanders previously made clear he wanted his JSU program to end its affiliation with the Memphis-based, neutral-site Southern Heritage Classic against Tennessee State.
Now the Tigers’ head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer has made known his great displeasure with his team’s mid-October trip to face Bethune-Cookman, a game that will be played in TIAA Bank Field – home venue for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Why are we playing in a dern pro stadium and they average how many?,” Sanders asked Thursday during the Zoom portion of Southwestern Athletic Conference football media day. “How many per game? So, you’re depending on our fans to come pack it? We’re not doing that.
“We already have too many finances going to play in Miami and other places. I don’t know why we’re doing that, I don’t approve of doing that. I don’t think it makes sense. That’s how I feel about that. I would rather pay them to come play us and put a couple hundred thousand in their pocket.”
Bethune-Cookman had just four home games during its 2021 season, when it drew a total of 21,291 fans to those contests for an average home attendance of 5,323 per game.
By contract, with Sanders leading the program’s tent-revival-like resurgence, Jackson State averaged 43,573 fans for its home games last season and three times ushered in crowds of more than 50,000 to Jackson’s Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium; the Tigers had a season-high crowd of 58,892 for their rivalry showdown with Alcorn State.
Sanders emphasized his viewpoint on this year’s game in Jacksonville stemmed from his desire to see SWAC teams showcased in full stadiums with jubilant fans.
“Bethune-Cookman, what is their fanbase?,” said Sanders, who had a record-breaking 11-win campaign in his first full season atop the Tigers’ program. “What do they average per game? Why are we playing in a stadium of that magnitude?
“I’m trying to uplift the SWAC. I’m not trying to make sure the SWAC … when we show up somewhere, we show out and it’s packed and it’s to have that feeling.”