Deion Sanders’s departure from Jackson State in December 2022 following the Celebration Bowl shook up the HBCU community. While anticipated, his decision to depart for Colorado seemed surreal and, to many, ill-timed. Just as rumors began circulating, the Tigers were preparing for a rematch against their rivals, the Southern University Jaguars, in the SWAC Championship at the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.

He later revealed his departure to take on the role of head coach at the Colorado Buffaloes, a program that had a glorious past as former National Championship winners but faced significant challenges in winning in the 21st century. His exit sparked debates about his intentions: Was his aim truly to uplift HBCUs? Or did he view Jackson State merely as a stepping stone to his next career move?

But, per his new book co-written with Don Yeager, “Elevate and Dominate: 21 Ways to Win On and Off the Field”, which was released March 12th, Deion appeared to be all in on making Jackson State a perennial contender. The revelations were initially uncovered by J.T. Keith of the Clarion Ledger. He shared these findings in his article “Deion Sanders discusses Jackson State football, interactions with pastors, and encounters with drug dealers in his new book.”

“My goal for Jackson State was clear from Day One—we wanted to win, and win RIGHT NOW. We wanted to wake it up and capture some of its potential. But we also wanted to challenge the belief that HBCUs were some sort of inferior product. THEY ARE NOT… and we proved that. I never thought too deeply about my next step because my focus was on turning Jackson State into a powerhouse.”

However, Sanders reiterated the same candor about the media chatter surrounding his next moves. “When we were on our way to winning our second straight SWAC championship, I was brutally honest when people kept asking about my future. If a tremendous opportunity came along, I’d be crazy not to consider it. And that was mostly because of opportunities for others— like bigger salaries for my coaches instead of myself.”

There were many reports at the time that Sanders had conversations with various FBS programs about becoming head coach over the course of the 2022 regular season, in which Jackson State went undefeated. In the book, Sanders admits that he spoke with other programs about being head coach but hadn’t made a decision on what he would do next.

“Toward the end of my last season at Jackson State, I had contact with Colorado and some other schools. I hadn’t gotten down the runway with a decision on what I was gonna do. I was having lunch with Andre Hart, my linebackers coach, and I heard a whisper. Colorado. Just a little whisper. Colorado. So, I called up Rick George, the Colorado athletic director. He took the call thinking it was going to be another round of me saying I’m not going to do it. But I just told him one thing. I’m coming.”

Per Sanders, two other schools reached out to him at the last minute to increase their offers to him in a last-ditch effort to convince him to take over their program.

“I told my coaches, ‘Look guys, this is what’s going to happen. At the last minute, two other schools are going to come to us, and they will have outrageous financial numbers.’ And that’s exactly what happened. Two schools came out of nowhere at the last minute and offered us a ton of money, significantly more. But I had already made up my mind with Colorado, and God had put me on the right path.”

He also spoke about deciding to stay on as coach of the team during the Celebration Bowl. The team geared up to play North Carolina Central, the MEAC Champions, and a dominant program in their own right.

“I stayed with my Jackson State team a few more weeks, until we played in the Celebration Bowl, our reward for a fantastic unbeaten season. Now, that created a bit of a hardship because I was coaching two teams at once. When I had some Zooms with Colorado, I had to make sure I had on my Colorado hat. Then I’d change into my Jackson State gear and head to practice. Would my life have been so much easier by just getting out to Colorado, doing the recruiting and the other duties, instead of doing what everyone else does? No question. But I had to FINISH what I started.”

Sanders spoke highly of Jackson State in the book, utilizing his experience with the team as the set-up for several of the 21 tips that he describes. The book “Elevate and Dominate: 21 Ways to Win On and Off the Field” is available now wherever books are sold.