Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders walked out of the weekend with an Orange Blossom Classic win over SWAC newcomer Florida A&M and support for an idea that has gotten the attention from a rival HBCU conference.
Leading up to its season opener, Sanders suggested that the MEAC — which has six remaining football-playing schools follow a number of defections — join forces with the SWAC to create a Division 1 HBCU super conference.
“Personally, I wish the MEAC would fold up like a tent and just come on so we could really do this thing like the SEC,” he said. “That’s my hope. That’s my dream. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen no time expeditiously.”
The comments by Sanders resulted in a response from the MEAC, which said it is “committed to its long-term sustainability.”
While the topic was hotly debated within the confines of social media circles, Sanders did find at least one ally in Morgan State head coach Tyrone Wheatley.
The second-year coach who, like Sanders, played in the NFL, said Monday that the proposal was something he could get behind.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Wheatley told members of the media during the MEAC’s weekly coaches virtual press conference. But my job is to not think about conferences joining together. My job and my thought process right now is Tulane. But when I think about the MEAC, I love this conference. I love coaching against these guys … they are a great group of guys.
“They are fielding great teams. They are putting guys in a position to change their lives. I think it’s a great idea but at the same time, I can make the MEAC stronger by getting my team better. That’s the only way I can help the MEAC.”
Wheatley’s statements accompanied those made earlier during the media session in defense of the strength of the conference that many outside of MEAC circles have questioned.
“If this conference wasn’t as good as it is, teams wouldn’t come down to poach our players,” he said, calling the MEAC “loaded.”
“People underestimate the MEAC.”