But ... Can Deion Sanders Actually Coach?

Mike Fisher

While media members joust over the details of a report via Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger that has Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders finalizing a deal with Jackson State University to become the school's next head coach, there is an ultimately more important detail to be debated.

Can Deion Sanders coach?

Sanders, 53, played 14 seasons in the NFL as what most analysts would say was the best cover cornerback in the history of the game. He also served as an electric punt returner and a dangerous wide receiver, winning Super Bowls in San Francisco and then with the Dallas Cowboys, the franchise that in many ways remains tied with him because he's long made his home in the DFW area.

Sanders is also one of the most colorful and controversial figures in the history of sports. One of the first athletes to figure out how to "brand'' himself, he acted in movies, sang in videos, played professional baseball at the same time (and in the same weekend!) he played pro football and rode his charisma to a post-playing-career job as a national TV commentator.

In February, he said on The Dan Patrick Show that he's "going to be a head coach in college football ... next year."

Jackson State is something short of a powerhouse and something short of the high-profile avenues Sanders has usually chosen. But in the last few years, he's served as the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian High School in Cedar Hill, Texas, which has experienced great success and where his top-prospect son Shedeur plays quarterback. (And is committed to play at Florida International, though maybe that is subject to change now.)

But this move ... would require a full-time commitment and would demand a relentless grind, all from a man who has no head coaching experience at the professional or college level. (By the way: I've applied these same points to other DFW guys in similar situations. New Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash shares with Deion a charismatic attraction; iconic Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, often rumored to be "the next head coach'' here or there, I've written, probably needs to serve an apprenticeship lest he get Peter Principled.)

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None of that means Deion can't do this; in the sports arena and beyond, Sanders has literally succeeded at virtually everything he's ever attempted. Nor does his lack of true experience block him from success; there are other examples in all sports of such jumps - and in the world of recruiting alone, it's easy to envision Deion selling his way into parents' living rooms.

Additionally - and this is an issue near and dear to many fans of football in Houston, in Texans and in the South - HBCUs are in need of attention and financial support. The hiring of Deion would be a bonanza in that department.

But can Deion Sanders coach? Jackson State seems intent on finding out.

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