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.
Related: Deion Sanders, Jackson State agree to 4-year, $1.2 million deal
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.
So what he left of the Celebration Bowl, it was just conversation to bring light to the lack of support the NCAA and major sponsors have given to HBCU period. That game is still pimping us in regards of funding based on the number of fans and television viewers.
I agree. There is always minimal media coverage of HBCUs’ regular season games, let alone any of the conference championship games and national title games. HBCU athletics is an untapped market of opportunities and potential that will never be nationally recognized until one of the HBCU money games offered by top PWI’s is upset by an HBCU opponent. Even with an upset of a top PWI, the recognition will only be garnered by the HBCU team that pulled off such a feat, not the conference its a part of.
BET could play a huge roll in getting HBCU athletics some national air play. The OWN that is headed by Oprah Winfrey could also help in this too, but not likely. I do applaud power 5 teams like LSU who are giving teams like Grambling and Southern University opportunities to play them in Death Valley and in Eddie Robinson Stadium in 2021 and 2022. Those games would give major media exposure to both HBCUs’, but not the SWAC as a whole. The NCAA can’t have scenarios such as the one that took place when FAMU upset Texas College in 1950 repeating itself on a normal basis now given the large amounts of monies involved in the upper echelon of college football today. Nevertheless, HBCUs’ need those same opportunities to play their games on national media networks, also the opportunities to compete with teams at the highest levels of the game outside of their conferences, including a run at the Football Bowl Subdivision if they’re good enough, but that’s for another discussion.