Within a matter of weeks, Jackson State football has been associated with a few of America’s most prominent national media institutions.
Two Sundays ago, Deion Sanders was front and center on a 60 Minutes segment that featured his work transforming the program. Last Friday, the school and the football operation were given a Good Morning America billboard ahead of its homecoming festivities.
On the day of its homecoming game against Campbell University, quarterback Shedeur Sanders sat down with Michael Strahan on FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff pregame show to talk about his Heisman campaign, why he chose Jackson State, and all the notable NIL deals he signed.
And less than 24 hours after JSU played in front of better than 50,000 fans at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium and topped Campbell to start the season 7-0, ESPN’s College GameDay announced that it was taking its popular roadshow to Jackson.
The team of Rece Davis, Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit, Pat McAfee and college football’s favorite grandpa Lee Corso will set the scene ahead of another installment in the SWAC rivalry between Jackson State and Southern.
No matter where you turn these days, Jackson State — either in print, online, or on television — is drawing significant mainstream interest.
“I was excited, really excited,” Sanders said Tuesday about learning that College GameDay would be at Jackon State. “But you gotta understand, I expect stuff like this. Why not us? You know lots of people wear that shirt that says: ‘Why not us.’ But they don’t believe what’s on the shirt half the time. You better believe it. Don’t just wear it. Believe it. I really think like that. I think, ‘Why haven’t you come yet?’ Thank God, they pulled the trigger. We’re blessed to have them. It’s phenomenal.”
It is difficult not to acknowledge that Jackson State is in this position on the strength of Sanders’ voice, popularity, and a strong in-house media promotional brigade that has introduced the public to the inner workings of the football program that has attracted the likes of ESPN and entertainers such as Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross and members of the popular STARZ series P-Valley who sit in plush bright red VIP sideline seats with the word ‘PRIME’ inscribed on them.
Sanders said he welcomes all comers — regardless of status or background — to Jackson State.
“And we’re going to keep on continuing to do what we do because we’re trying to reach, teach, and touch the majority, not the minority,” he said during the SWAC coaches media call this week. “We’ve already touched the minority.”
Ultimately, Jackson State is getting the kind of exposure that has consistently only been afforded to a few in the caste system that makes up college sports.
That reality is something not lost on Sanders with GameDay coming to town.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re Black, white or Asian or whatever, when your father comes to see you play, whatever the sport, all he has to do is tilt his head and you know what that means: ‘I see you.’ Now your mama’s got to yell and clap and all that, but your father, all he has to do is nod and you know what that means. To me, that’s what ESPN is doing. They are nodding in our direction. They see us.”