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Closing the Gap? Prairie View and Jackson State Serve as Models for HBCU Programs

FBS teams taking advantage of FCS may be a thing of the past, especially with the talent of HBCUs closing the gap.

"All money ain't good money," said Coach Sanders.

All losses aren't good losses, either!

Two HBCU programs to significant steps forward this weekend while facing FBS teams. One won, and the other didn't. No one cares about moral victories, but Jackson State had Louisiana-Monroe on the ropes until the final quarter and came up 5 points short of an upset.  

What we have learned from this weekend's FBS versus FCS slate of games, is that Eric Dooley's and Deion Sanders' programs are starting to close the gap that has existed for too long.

Inside the Prairie View A&M and Jackson State's coaching games, the riddles that have plagued HBCU/FCS teams may have been solved - outstanding defensive talent.

Jackson State University's James Houston


Prairie View and Jackson State's defensive units kept the games from getting out of hand.  

Houston Baptist took a 21-20 first-quarter lead, then Prairie View's defense made the adjustments.

Desmond Young's pick-six late in the fourth quarter helped to seal the contest for the Panthers. Comparatively, the Tiger's Aubrey Miller led the Tiger's defense with 12 tackles. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman's unit's speed and strength neutralized Warhawks offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez's quick-strike offense. ULM was never comfortable and never found the endzone that evening because of the JSU defense.

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Deion Sanders remarked on the game, "I wanted to win." PV's 37-27 victory and JSU's 12-7 close defeat were learning experiences and wake-up calls for the FBS schools.  

The past year's recruiting efforts have HBCU football squads are loaded with talented young men. With this weekend's showings, high-school athletes are taking notice of Sanders' and Dooley's programs.

Quarterbacks Jawon Pass (Prairie View) and Shedeur Sanders (Jackson State) prove that talented pocket passers reside in HBCU major conferences. "I don't want a running quarterback," mentioned Coach Sanders to reporters on Monday. He explained that a running QB doesn't have the tools to bring a football team back from a late deficit.  

Shedeur Sanders has been groomed to be a prototypical quarterback built for future days in the National Football League.  

Alabama A&M's outstanding leader Aqeel Glass is ready for primetime.

Jackson State football coach Deion Sanders


Each season, the "Cutting the Check" ritual has a financial windfall for HBCU and FCS programs - but at what cost? Sanders and other coaches are becoming vocal against the practice and want to protect their athletes from injuries and anguish in losing to FBS schools. 

If HBCUs continue to attract talent like Jawon Pass and Aubrey Miller Jr. to transfer into their sports programs. Also, recruiting four-star and five-star talent will start to shrink those large margins of defeat.

Contracts are in place, and decades of ritualized losing won't disappear overnight. HBCUs stand a chance to be competitive with talented student-athletes and good coaching. For the moment.