Eddie Robinson Deion Sanders
Alabama State

Deion Sanders, Eddie Robinson and ‘Who Is SWAC’

It’s been one year since Eddie Robinson Jr. questioned the SWAC credentials of Deion Sanders after a heated hand-shake moment.

Deion Sanders had many memorable moments while coaching at Jackson State — but one stands out above them all.

Sanders and Alabama State head coach Eddie Robinson Jr. had a memorable post-game ‘hand-shake’ that turned into a pop culture moment and an iconic moment in HBCU football history on Oct. 8, 2022.

Jackson State beat Alabama State 26-12 in front of a sold out homecoming crowd, and the two coaches met at mid-field. That’s where things got hairy as Robinson stopped Sanders’ attempt at a hug, prompting an exchange of words and a shove from Deion Sanders.

Our Tolly Carr was on the field, capturing all the action. Then he went in the postgame and covered the press conferences of each coach.

An agitated Robinson explained why he stopped the hug, including uttering 11 words that will live in infamy.

“I’m living on the shoulders of the SWAC. He ain’t SWAC. You know I’m SWAC and he ain’t SWAC. He’s in the conference doing a great job, I can’t knock that. It’s a great team, his son should be up for the Heisman Trophy. I love Shedeur he’s a great player. I love what he’s doing for the conference. He is probably one of the best things we had since Steve McNair when he was in there. I love all of that but you’re not going to come here and disrespect me and my team and my school and then want to do a “bro up” shake my hand and get the hell on.”

Eddie Robinson Deion Sanders

An equally amped-up Sanders responded with a soliloquy of his own.

“Who is SWAC,” Sanders asked rhetorically, “if I ain’t SWAC?”

The press conference and the handshake went viral in a way that stretched beyond the world of HBCU sports. Clips from the press conference went everywhere, and DJ Suede The Remix God created a song from Sanders’ monologue that permeated throughout the SWAC and beyond. Sanders embraced the moment, dancing with his Jackson State team to the song and printing up shirts with ‘who is SWAC’ on them. The crowd at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium chanted the song with Sanders joining in from the sidelines a few weeks later against Southern University. 

Sanders would be announced as head coach at Colorado less than two months after that fateful afternoon in Montgomery. A year later, he is no longer in the SWAC, as Eddie Robinson hinted at during his press conference.

“I hope he comes back next year,” Robinson said. “I pray he doesn’t get a Power Five job. We can play in Jackson, and I pray they put us for their damn homecoming.”

Jackson State will host Eddie Robinson Jr. and Alabama State on Saturday to play in its homecoming game. But Deion Sanders will be hosting Stanford as it travels to Colorado.

Deion Sanders, Eddie Robinson and ‘Who Is SWAC’
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