When Jackson State coach Deon Sanders and Alabama State coach Eddie Robinson Jr. Meeting at halftime after Saturday’s game, the exchange ended with Robinson pushing off the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As it turns out, they’re just getting started.
Robinson held Sanders’ hand after Alabama State’s 26-12 loss to Jackson State, but instead of hugging Sanders, he shoved him with his left hand as he walked away . Surprised Sanders raised his hands in disbelief and walked away with his security.
Robinson later explained that Sanders made disrespectful remarks a week before the game. Robinson also claimed that Sanders warmed up offensively in an end zone in Alabama rather than taking a more direct route to the sideline in Jackson State. He added that Jackson State should have gotten down on one knee in the final minute of the game instead of trying to score with its backup quarterback.
Robinson said he always shook hands with opposing coaches, but he saw “no need to hug” Sanders.
“I will always respect and respect the game,” Robinson said. “You have great [coaches], WC Gorden, Eddie Robinson, these guys, Marino Casem, I live on the shoulders of SWAC. “
Robinson, who has nothing to do with Grambling coach and Hall of Famer Eddie Robinson, then added Sanders: “He’s not SWAC. I’m SWAC, he’s not SWAC. He’s in conferences, doing well, can’t knock, has a Great team, his son deserves the Heisman trophy, I love Shader, great player, I love what he did for the conference…but you don’t come here disrespecting me, My team and my school, then want a brother hug. Shake my hand and get out.”
Sanders led Jackson State to 12 straight SWAC victories and a league title in 2021, while increasing focus on league and HBCU football. He defended his pregame routine, saying he was always running up and down the field before NFL games and arriving too late to greet Robinson at midfield before kickoff.
Last week, Sanders said it was a “money game” for Alabama State to invite Jackson State as a rival for returning students because of the large crowds and attention he and his program have.
“I heard he also commented on what I said before this week,” Sanders said after Saturday’s game. “Before this week, I was a really good salesman. Did we sell out the game? Did we sell out the game, did we? Are they sold out here? So I thought I did My job. I thought I should applaud, really.”
Sanders disputed Robinson’s comments that he did not reflect SWAC.
“I’m not someone who comes back the next day, you pick up the phone, you apologize, we’re straight,” he said. “No, not nothing. You mean a mess. Out of all the comments, there’s one comment that upsets me, I’m not SWAC. Who is? I have time today. If I’m not, then who’s SWAC SWAC? If I’m not SWAC, so who is SWAC?
Sanders added that he didn’t need extra motivation, but noted Robinson’s “boldness” questioning his intentions as a coach.
Robinson is unlikely to back down. He said he respected Sanders, noting that “everyone wants to be ‘prime time’ as a kid.” Robinson also praised Sanders for his coaching ability, not his actions.
“I hope he comes back next year, and I pray he doesn’t get the Power 5 job so we can play them in Jackson next year,” Robinson said. “I pray they put us on their fucking way home.”