While the college football world remains enamored with Jackson State University head coach Deion Sanders, Alabama State University head coach Eddie Robinson Jr., is not a fan.
Following Jackson State’s road victory over Alabama State on homecoming, Robinson shook Sanders’ hand but pushed “Coach Prime” away when he sought to embrace him.
“[Sanders is] in the [Southwest Athletic Conference] doing a great job, can’t knock that, got a great team,” Robinson told reporters following the midfield dustup.
“But you’re not going to come here and disrespect me and my team and my school and then want a bro hug. Shake my hand and get the hell off.”
Robinson wasn’t through with his postgame pontification, firing a verbal shot directly at Sanders.
“He ain’t SWAC. I’m SWAC, he ain’t SWAC,” Robinson said.
Sanders first drew Robinson’s ire in the days leading up to the game. Sanders called the contest “a money game” for Alabama State because Jackson State draws large crowds.
Robinson was also sizzling after Sanders walked through Alabama State's offensive warm-ups in one of the end zones while he was headed to Jackson State's sideline. Rather than take a knee and run out the clock in the game’s final minute, Sander’s allowed Jackson State’s backup quarterback to run several plays.
Of course, Sanders didn’t sit quietly during his postgame press conference.
“One of the comments that kind of disturbed me out of all the comments, that I'm not SWAC. Who is SWAC if I ain't SWAC?” he said.
Sanders said he should be “applauded” for his remarks leading up the game because the contest did sell out. He also will not accept an apology from Robinson.
“I'm not one to come back the next day and you going to pick up the phone and you going to apologize and we straight. No, not whatsoever. You meant that mess,” Sanders said.
It was just a matter of time before Sanders began rubbing fellow HBCU coaches the wrong way.
I’m sure many of them cringe when they see Sanders and Alabama coach Nick Saban on those silly Aflac commercials.
Some have dedicated most of their careers to HBCU football, and Sanders instantly became all things HBCU in less than two full seasons. While he convinced his son to attend Jackson State, Sanders played at traditional power Florida State University.
While he might be the current conductor, Sanders caught the HBCU football train decades after many other coaches and administrators.
Sanders and Jackson State reached the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta, which is recognized as the HBCU football national title game. South Carolina State blasted Sanders’ team 31-10, but that is rarely mentioned by national college football writers. It’s all “Deion is great” all the time.
While Sanders’ commitment to HBCU football and his university should not be questioned, his impact on the future could have its drawbacks.
Deron Snyder, a freelance sports columnist who I worked with 30 years ago at USA TODAY Baseball Weekly sort of foresaw the future in an article that was published in The Grio a week before Sanders v. Robinson.
“[Sanders] will be fine no matter what, whether he stays at Jackson State another 20 years or just two,” wrote Snyder.
“But HBCU culture needs safeguarding under the intense lights that have followed him. It also needs shelter moving forward when the attention might wither like a racial reckoning.”
As for Robinson, who is not related to the late Eddie Robinson, famed Grambling State University football coach, this grudge match is not over.
“I hope [Sanders] comes back next year, I pray he don't get a Power 5 job, so we can play them next year in Jackson," Robinson said.
"And I pray they put us for their damn homecoming."
The Reid Roundup
The St. Louis Cardinals had been on Albert Pujols watch for most of September. The team now has most of winter to watch Pujols’ highlights after being swept in a best two-of-three Wild Card series against the Philadelphia Phillies… Both Pujols and Yadier Molina got base hits in their final Major League at-bats, which was a fitting way to go out.