Career Path: Although it may seem like Hall of Fame defensive back Deion Sanders just started coaching, he has actually been coaching football for over a decade. Before being the head coach at Jackson State, Sanders was an offensive coordinator at the high school level for Trinity Christian School in 2017 and was instrumental in leading the Tigers to three-straight Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools titles and a 42-3 record.
Many of us know him as someone who has been part of the annual Under Armour All-America Game, coaching star recruits and helping them prep for the showcase.
In his three seasons at Jackson State, Coach Prime has compiled a 16-5 record. Jackson State uses a spread offense predicated on a dual-threat QB making plays. Defensively, Jackson State has an aggressive style and is viewed as multiple. He won the SWAC title in 2021, JSU’s first conference title since 2007, and took JSU to the Celebration Bowl. The Tigers are currently 11-0 and look to avenge last year’s upset loss in the Celebration Bowl.
Buzz Surrounding The Hire: This would be a bombshell of a hire for FAU. Coach Prime’s ties to the Sunshine State are obvious given his career at Florida State. What he’s done in the CFB recruiting world is spectacular, as he flipped the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit Travis Hunter from Florida State to Jackson State. The amount of attention he’s brought to HBCU football has been remarkable. Deion is well linked with Barstool Sports as his show “Coach Prime,” a behind-the-scenes documentary highlighting student-athletes, coaches, and staff, airs on their channel. Deion is also connected to Under Armour. FAU could not make a splashier hire.
What’s There To Like: FAU’s profile as a university would go through the roof with Coach Prime on the sidelines. It’s been well documented what Lane Kiffin’s time in Boca Raton did for the university and a more famous Deion Sanders would quadruple that. On the recruiting trail, Deion would be a force, having already displayed his capabilities at the FCS level. On the field he could theoretically overhaul FAU’s roster with talented players he recruited to Jackson State and other players at the FBS level. Coach Prime at FAU would require an all-hands-on-deck approach from admin. Everyone would have to display a level of commitment the university has yet to showcase, which I see as a good thing.
Why They Should Proceed With Caution: While I am convinced he is a legit coach, some still view him as a glorified recruiting coordinator in the big chair, incapable of handling the duties needed to succeed at the FBS level. Sanders has had the benefit of not only a massive talent advantage in the SWAC but resources too. His performance against a level playing field is somewhat unknown. Jackson State is 0-1 against FBS teams under Deion, with a 12-7 loss to ULM in 2021. His persona is brash, loud, and at times “look at me.” In a lot of ways, it would be similar to what FAU experienced with Lane Kiffin. Also, his ties with Barstool would be something the university would need to monitor and determine whether or not that’s a partnership they’d be willing to explore.
Why He Would Take The Job: There aren’t too many FBS programs with the upside that FAU has combined with the lack of history. There’s no one to tell a head coach “we do things here like this”. That type of blank slate is what allowed Lane Kiffin to come into his own and succeed. It would be a similar blueprint for Sanders to come in and do the same.
The stakes would be lower than a P5 job where he’d be critically judged by the media and would allow him to operate out of the spotlight, relative to how much his fame affords him to be. His connections to the state could be leveraged tenfold at an FBS program and given FAU is still a relatively new program, he could put his stamp on the program and university in the same manner as what he has done at Jackson State.
Analysis: Over the weekend it was reported that Colorado had offered Deion Sanders a job to be their next head coach. USF is also reportedly interested. Perception-wise, FAU would be third in this pecking order and who knows, there could be other suitors out there as more jobs become vacant in the 2022-2023 coaching carousel. Willie Taggart and Coach Prime have a good relationship publicly, as Deion was one of Taggart’s supporters at Florida State. How good is their relationship? Deion’s son Shedeur Sanders was committed to Taggart and FAU before flipping to Jackson State. What I’m trying to say is that Coach Prime ending up in Boca is a long shot.
But damn, this would be fun. FAU would be extremely intriguing with Sanders and could consistently sign top 30 classes under his leadership. FAU would annually be in the mix for the best high school prospects in the country. That alone would be worth a swing on Coach Prime. Add in the fact that Sanders has been successful as a head coach and this would check all the boxes FAU would be looking for as they enter a new AAC. Deion Sanders’ defunct Prime Prep Academy is a blemish on his resume, but not something that should prevent FAU from targeting him should that be the direction they go towards.
We’ve seen a “glorified recruiting coordinator” on FAU’s sidelines before in Charlie Partridge and that is definitely something to consider. But Deion’s experience running his own program trumps that worry for me. Coach Prime is flashy, interesting, engaging, and more importantly, could potentially be a great head coach. FAU football needs to be interesting to stand out in South Florida. Similar to Lane Kiffin, this would be an amazing hire and shock the CFB world. One could dream. On a scale of 1-10, this hire would be a 10.