Nov 10, 2021

Deion Sanders has put himself squarely in the mix to become TCU’s next coach. Sanders had his first interview with TCU officials on Monday, sources said, and impressed.

One source went as far as saying Sanders is expected to make the cut for the second round of interviews. “I’m not saying he is going to get the job, not saying he’s the leading candidate at this point,” the source said, “but he is in the mix. He was impressive.

Along with Sanders, other candidates who have emerged in recent days include Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, Louisiana’s Billy Napier, SMU’s Sonny Dykes and Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott.

TCU casted a wide net since parting ways with longtime coach Gary Patterson on Oct. 31. Others who were on the initial list included Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and UTSA’s Jeff Traylor, both of whom are no longer considered candidates. TCU’s selection committee consists of athletic director Jeremiah Donati and deputy athletics director Mike Sinquefield as well as board of trustees members LaDainian Tomlinson, Eddie Clark and Hunter Enis. Tomlinson and Sanders have a history together as both are Pro Football Hall of Famers who worked as analysts on the NFL Network. Both reside in the DFW area, too, appearing together at football camps and other functions.

Sanders, 54, is in his second season at Jackson State, which sits at 8-1 and atop the SWAC standings going into its game at Southern on Saturday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sanders has missed the past three games with an undisclosed health issue but the work he’s done in bringing national attention and highly ranked players to Jackson State has not gone unnoticed. That’s why he’s being viewed as a candidate for jobs such as TCU. Sanders rebuilt Jackson State in a short time period and signed the highest-rated recruiting class in FCS and HBCU history in 2021. Sanders has built a solid staff at Jackson State, including Dennis Thurman as defensive coordinator and Jason Phillips as offensive coordinator. Like Sanders, Thurman has ties to Tomlinson as both crossed paths with the New York Jets.

Tomlinson finished his playing career with the Jets in 2010-11 while Thurman was the defensive backs coach. TCU officials could be intrigued by the type of impact Sanders would have on the recruiting front. “He’s a guy who has the ability to get in any door,” “I don’t care if you’re getting recruited by Alabama or Ohio State, he is going to get in the door.” In the new age of college athletics with players being able to profit off their name, image and likeness and the impact of the NCAA’s transfer portal, Sanders would bring publicity and buzz to a program that feels it’s in position to contend immediately. No candidate would generate more attention for TCU than Sanders.