Deion Sanders is the only player to play in both the Super Bowl and the World Series, not to mention the only player to ever hit an MLB home run and record an NFL interception in the same week.
On October 11, 1992, he played in an NFL game and suited up for an MLB game … on the same day … in two different cities. That probably beats the time at Florida State when he won the 100 and 200 meters in a morning track and then started as the center fielder for the Seminoles baseball team that night.
There are others, of course. Many more, especially in football. The number of players who can count both receptions and interceptions in the Super Bowl? Only him.
How about scoring an NFL touchdown six different ways (rushing, receiving, punt return, kick return, interception, kick return)? Just Deion and fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Dudley, who retired in 1953.
Is Sanders just a freak athlete? Barely. As Jackson State’s head football coach, he’s not only 14-2 in his last 16 games (including 3-0 this season), he’s the only person to ever sign the No. 1 recruit in America (cornerback Travis Hunter) at an FCS school.
And this isn’t a part-time, celebrity trainer. Watch Hunter, who also believed his future in Saunders, happily cry on his coach’s shoulder before their first game.
Perhaps the most complex conundrum in major college football is how Arizona State – with its resources, location, weather and so on – is rarely good. The Sun Devils had a top-10 finish in 35 years (back in 1996). He fired Erm Edwards on Sunday after the loss to Eastern Michigan.
So here we have a potential situation — the program that seems capable of anything but inexplicably can never get out of its way, and the man and coach who has spent his life redefining what’s possible.
Deion Sanders to Arizona State? Now that would be something.
Sanders, of course, is the coach at Jackson State and has previously stated that he wants to continue his work there, specifically, and for the HBCU in general. If so, good. It’s been an incredible story so far.
That said, Sanders has interviewed for major conference coaching positions, including TCU and Arkansas. “I should have taken them,” Deion said — in classic Deion style — on “The Dan Le Batard Show” last winter.
He should definitely get the next one. Deion Sanders should be the No. 1 coaching prospect in the country this year not named Urban Meyer. And even then, Meyer comes with baggage and the promise of a potentially rough ending.
Sanders? He will arrive with talent, fanfare and a whole new attitude, with goals that seem improbable when first announced.
That should be especially enticing for ASU, which many agree needs just the right guy to become a juggernaut. It is a city school, a fun school, a cool school. Almost everyone (athletes or not) who has ever set foot in Tempe has looked around with the same reaction — this is awesome.
The right man can finally make it count. Attendance, fan excitement, media, booster donations, business support and so on.
Sanders, the son of a legendarily colorful drum major, is the king of hype. Once known as “Neon Deion” and “Primetime,” he now refers to himself as “Coach Prime” … at least when he’s not answering “GOAT” in Aflac commercials.
Sanders can be a successful coach anywhere, but that doesn’t mean he has to try.
Nebraska is finally open, but Deion in the cold cornfields of Lincoln seems out of place. Auburn should be made available, and that would be very, very tempting — and it would set him up in the Iron Bowl opposite fellow Aflac star Nick Saban. Would it work well with the historically toxic boosters and small town setting? It can. Probably not.
Sure Sanders back at his alma mater would be huge, but Mike Norvell has the Seminoles at 3-0, so any chance there might not materialize.
Arizona State is a sleeping giant for the right person, and Sanders seems to check all the boxes.
If nothing else, it would instantly change recruiting fortunes. Arizona State hasn’t signed a four- or five-star in-state receiver since 2017 — missing 32 players ranked as such by Rivals.com. Almost all were from the Phoenix area.
But this would be national. Sanders can attract applicants to a palm-lined campus minutes from one of the nation’s largest airports. And don’t forget the transfer market, where Saunders is unimaginably aggressive – “we live at the gate,” he once said.
He could also arrive with a half-dozen budding stars from Jackson State, including possibly his son, quarterback Shedeur Sanders (10 TDs, 0 interceptions this season).
Perhaps best of all, Sanders has shown that he is more than a showman. It’s not about a one-off recruiting win or arriving at a press conference with a band and an Escalade.
Jackson State is a well organized, well organized and well coached program. It’s the little things that usually derail former star players or NFL coaches upon their return to campus. Not Sanders. Despite facing a terrible citywide water failure, JSU is outscoring opponents 141-30 this season.
So, would it all go to the desert, where the promise of a power plant has remained a mirage for decades?
Could we get Coach Prime to go to PHX and pick up some five-star recruits in a Bentley as the rest of the country begins to worry that the giant has finally awakened?
Maybe only Deion Sanders knows, but the perennial Sun Devils better call and find out.