Deion Sanders was looking to end his run at Jackson State with a win in the Celebration Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday. And while the Tigers did everything they could to win the HBCU national championship, their opponent, North Carolina Central, came out on top with a 41-34 victory in overtime.
PopCulture.com attended the Celebration Bowl, which is a game between the champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the champions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Jackson State came into the game as heavy favorites as the team finished the regular season with a 12-0 record and ranked as high as No. 5 in the FCS poll. Sanders joined Jackson State in 2020 and posted a 23-3 record in his last two seasons with the school. It was fitting for Sanders to have his final game as the Jackson State head coach in Atlanta since he was a standout player for the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Braves in the early 1990s.
One of the reasons he's been successful at Jackson State is the players he brought in. His son, QB Shedeur Sanders, played one of his best games of the season, completing 30 of 40 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns while also running for 38 yards and a score. Wide receiver/defensive back Travis Hunter, the No. 1 recruit in the country last season, also had a big day with four receptions for 47 yards and touchdowns while notching five tackles and one pass defended.
Sanders' had everything needed to win the Celebration Bowl, but the Tigers could not get past at North Carolina Central team that rushed for over 200 yards. And now, Sanders will move on with his coaching career as he is now the head coach at Colorado. Because of that move, Sanders is getting his share of criticism.
After the game, Sanders explained why he's a coach. "I don't play or coach for legacy," Sanders said, via HBCU GameDay, per 247Sports. "I coach for kids. I coach for resolutions, love and passion. It's not a job to me. I read the stuff now and then. I don't read everything like I used to when I had that kind of time. But to even fathom I would do something for money — and God has been good to me financially — blows my mind. You didn't say that when I was in the hospital for a month and then I came in the sideline in the wheelchair. Did I do for that money? When I'm reaching in my pocket and doing stuff, did I do that for money? When I'm loving on kids and doing stuff you would not even fathom a coach would do, did I do that for money? Money doesn't move me. I move money."
Sanders will now look to bring the same magic to Colorado, a team that hasn't had a winning season since 2016 and hasn't won a bowl game since 2004. If he can win at Boulder, Colorado, it wouldn't be surprising to see Sanders make another move and get a job at a bigger school down the road, like his alma mater Florida State.