To quote a tired meme often shared by athletes and countless other people on Instagram, respect is earned, not given. Jackson State football coach Deion Sanders has most likely heard of this maxim, even if he doesn’t agree with it, and yet at Tuesday’s SWAC Media Day, he attempted to force the issue anyway.
Clarion Ledger reporter Nick Suss is not a football player on Jackson State’s roster, so there’s no reason for him to refer to Sanders as “Coach.” He’s not doing cone drills for the former NFL player. Even so, Sanders immediately halted yesterday’s interview between them and insisted that Suss call him “Coach.”
“Let’s back up a little bit,” Sanders said. “You don’t call Nick Saban ‘Nick.’ Don’t call me ‘Deion.'”
Suss replied that he did and does call Alabama’s football coach “Nick,” and had referred to Sanders as “Deion” in the past without issue. When the reporter called him “Deion” again, the coach walked out.
If Sanders wants to call himself “Coach Prime,” he’s free to do that. He can also request his players to call him that (assuming they respect him). It is a lost cause to try to make everyone call you “Coach,” though, even when they don’t play a sport for you. He didn’t even come up with the original version of his nickname, “Prime Time”; his high school teammate Richard Fain gave him that. Sanders has spent more time in his life hyping up terrible Thursday Night Football games than he has coaching organized football, but the issue here isn’t about tenure. Despite what that embarrassing Alabama sports anchor claimed last December, Nick Saban gets called “Nick” all the time and does not give a shit.
As of this morning, Nick Saban still doesn’t care if a reporter calls him “Nick.” There are smaller things for him to be madder about.
Sanders’s response last night was something that probably sounded better in his head:
In what is surely a coincidence, Jackson State officials barred a different Clarion Ledger reporter, Rashad Milligan, from conducting or participating in any interviews with staff or players at Tuesday’s Media Day. The day before, Milligan published an article about how incoming four-star wide receiver Quaydarius Davis had originally planned to plead guilty to charges that he assaulted a woman in March.
As Milligan began to report at SWAC Media Day, [JSU director of internal football operations LaToya] Williams and [JSU associate athletic director for sports media Dennis] Driscoll told him he could not interview JSU players and coaches.
As Milligan waited to interview Shedeur Sanders, a heralded freshman quarterback and the son of Deion Sanders, Driscoll told him, “Sorry, you won’t be able to talk today.”
When Milligan said he intended to listen and record the interviews, Williams told him it would not be permitted because of the Davis story.
Pretty cool. From now on, please refer to Deion Sanders as “Mr. Time,” “His Coachness,” or “The Duke of Prime Prep.”