Despite having incentives included in his 4-year, $1.2 million contract that would net him $80,000 annually for winning the Celebration Bowl, new Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders crafted a tweet as if the only bowl featuring HBCUs did not exist.
All College Bowl SPONSORS I see there’s a myriad of Bowl cancellations this year due to various reason mainly COVID. We @GoJSUTigersFB would love the opportunity to participate in your bowl games in 2021/2022 Help us change the narrative and invite us! We’re ready. #COACHPRIME
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) December 22, 2020
“All College Bowl SPONSORS I see there’s a myriad of Bowl cancellations this year due to various reason mainly COVID. We @GoJSUTigersFB would love the opportunity to participate in your bowl games in 2021/2022 Help us change the narrative and invite us! We’re ready. #COACHPRIME,” said Sanders Tuesday on Twitter.
The tweet was in reference to the myriad of bowl cancelations due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic that left many football programs riddled with outbreaks and led to the loss of 133 scheduled FBS games since the regular season haphazardly began in late August.
It is safe to say schools realized — after barely making it through whatever the 2020 season was — that preparing to play a meaningless game during the most dangerous point in the pandemic to date was just simply not worth risking likely player and coach infections.
But that didn’t stop Sanders from lobbying for Jackson State — a school that will not begin its season until Feb. 21 because the SWAC thought participating in fall football was not only high-risk for everyone involved but that “African-American communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic” — to play in a bowl game the program likely will not qualify for.
Sanders inexplicably ignored, in calling out bowl sponsors, that Jackson State already has a tie with the Celebration Bowl now backed by Cricket Wireless.
The game which involves the SWAC and MEAC champions was also canceled because of the coronavirus.
If the Celebration Bowl is held next season, and JSU is as good on paper as it appears they are, Sanders — per his contract — stands to make a significant windfall for leading his team to Atlanta.
As part of his agreement with the university, Sanders could command upwards of $120,000 in bonuses, including $30,000 for a SWAC title and $50,000 more if JSU wins the Celebration Bowl.
How must Celebration Bowl, SWAC and MEAC officials feel after Sanders’s tweet and subsequent retweet by the Jackson State athletic department co-signing the idea?
Maybe Sanders was just tweeting off the cuff. Maybe he was just trying “to start a conversation.” But there was no follow-up tweet, so we have to suggest that Sanders was not speaking in jest.
And as great a self-promoter and charismatic pitchman as Sanders is, leaving this up to interpretation leaves more questions than 240 characters can answer.