Deion Sanders is the only person to play in both the Super Bowl and the World Series, not to mention the only player to ever hit a MLB home run and record an NFL interception in the same week.
On Oct. 11, 1992, he played in an NFL game and suited up for a 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 meet and then started as a center fielder for the Seminoles’ baseball team that night.
There’s more, of course. A lot more, mostly in football. The number of players who can count both a Super Bowl reception and interception? Just him.
How about scoring an NFL touchdown six different ways (rush, reception, point return, kick return, interception, fumble recovery)? Just Deion and fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Dudley, who retired in 1953.
Is Sanders just an otherworldly athlete? Hardly. As the head coach of Jackson State football, he isn’t just 14-2 in his past 16 games (including 3-0 this season), he’s the only person to ever sign the No. 1 recruit in America (cornerback Travis Hunter) to an FCS school.
And this is no part-time, celebrity coach. Watch Hunter, who placed his faith and future in Sanders, weep thankfully into his coach’s shoulder before their first game together.
Maybe the most perplexing riddle in major college football is how Arizona State — with its resources, location, weather and so on — is rarely any good. The Sun Devils have posted one top 10 finish in 35 years (back in 1996). It fired Herm Edwards on Sunday after getting beat by Eastern Michigan.
So here we have a potential situation — the program that seems capable of everything but inexplicably can never get out of its own 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 coaching Jackson State and has in the past stated that he wants to continue his work there, specifically, and for HBCU’s in general. If so, good. It’s been an incredible story so far.
That said, Sanders has interviewed for major conference coaching jobs, including TCU and Arkansas. “I should’ve got them,” Deion — in classic Deion style — said on “The Dan Le Batard Show” last winter.
He should certainly get the next one. Deion Sanders should be the No. 1 coaching candidate 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’s going to arrive with flair, fanfare and a whole new attitude, with goals that seem improbable when first uttered.
That should be particularly enticing for ASU, who many agree needs just the right guy to become a juggernaut. It’s a city school, a fun school, a cool school. Nearly everyone (athlete or not) who has ever stepped foot in Tempe has looked around with the same reaction — this is amazing.
The right guy can finally make it matter. Attendance, fan excitement, media, booster donations, business support and so on.
Sanders, the son of a legendary colorful drum majorette, is the king of hype. Once known as “Neon Deion” and “Primetime,” he now refers to himself as “Coach Prime” … at least when not answering to “GOAT” in Aflac commercials.
Sanders can probably be a successful coach anywhere, but that doesn’t mean he should try it.
Nebraska is open, after all, but Deion in the cold cornfields of Lincoln seems out of place. Auburn should become available, and that would be very, very enticing — and set him up in the Iron Bowl across from his Aflac co-star, Nick Saban. Would he work well with the historically toxic boosters and a small-town setting? Perhaps. Maybe not.
Certainly Sanders back at his alma mater would be huge, but Mike Norvell has the Seminoles at 3-0, so any possibility there may not materialize.
Arizona State is a sleeping giant for the right person and Sanders seems to check all the boxes.
If nothing else, he would immediately change the recruiting fortunes. Arizona State hasn’t signed an in-state four-or five-star recruit since 2017 — missing on 32 players ranked as such by Rivals.com. Almost all of them hailed from the Phoenix area.
This would be national, though. Sanders can lure prospects to a palm tree-lined campus that sits minutes from one of the largest airports in the country. And don’t forget the transfer market, where Sanders is unapologetically aggressive — “we live in the portal,” he once said.
He could also likely arrive with a half dozen budding stars from Jackson State, including, potentially, his son, quarterback Shedeur Sanders (10 TDs, 0 steals this season).
Maybe best of all, Sanders has shown he is more than a showman. This isn’t about a single splashy recruiting victory or arriving at a news conference with a marching band and an Escalade.
Jackson State is a well-organized, well-run and well-coached program. The little stuff is what usually derails former star players or NFL coaches on their return to campus. Not Sanders. Despite dealing with a horrific city-wide water failure, JSU is outscoring opponents 141-30 this season.
So, would he take it all to the desert, where the promise of a powerhouse has lingered like a mirage for decades?
Could we get Coach Prime rolling up to PHX and picking 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 forever bumbling Sun Devils better call and find out.