Deion Sanders not buying Jackson State's role in next matchup: 'We get paid to get beat, right?'

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The Jackson State football team, coached by Deion Sanders, is ready to make a statement against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday — even if history suggests it won't.

"Normally you just get paid to go to get beat, right?" Sanders said Monday during a conference call with Southwestern Athletic Conference media. "That's really the goal, right? Somebody pays you, your program makes more money than they normally will to go get your butt kicked.

"I don't believe in that."

JSU (2-0) is seeking its first win against an FBS program since at least 1978, according to NCAA.com, when it faces ULM (0-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday in Monroe. ULM has lost 12 straight games, tied for the longest losing streak in the nation, and Jackson State has emerged as one of the premier programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

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The juxtaposition makes Saturday's game a viable double-dip opportunity for the Tigers, who will be paid $350,000 for playing the game — win or lose — according to the game contract obtained by USA TODAY Sports. JSU will earn $350,000 when it returns to Monroe for a second game in 2024.

"Normally when you play against a powerhouse like I see some of the HBCU schools have taken, it helps the budget, but it kills the morale," Sanders said. "How can getting your butt kicked, I mean really kicked, help you as a team? Financially, cool. All money ain't good money."

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An HBCU program hasn't scored an FBS upset since 2018, when North Carolina A&T beat East Carolina, 28-23. But the feat is becoming more common overall at the FCS level, which includes all programs from the SWAC.

Eight FCS programs have beaten FBS teams this season, including Jacksonville State's last-second victory over Florida State — Sanders' alma mater — on Saturday.

"We just want to go out there and execute, do what we're blessed to do," Sanders said. "Excel. We're going to find out who some players really are this week because you're going to have a real formidable opponent that we're supposed the lose by all accounts. We weren't supposed to be in this game, right? We get paid to get beat, right?"

JSU routed Tennessee State, 38-16, in the Southern Heritage Classic on Saturday. Sanders said his defensive unit didn't show adequate improvement, but the offense made plays that it didn't in a 7-6 win over Florida A&M in the season opener.

Sanders signed the highest-rated recruiting class in FCS and HBCU history in 2021, with a national recruiting ranking 44 spots ahead of ULM's, according to the 247Sports Composite. None of that has changed his approach to Saturday's game against the Warhawks.

"If they don't practice, they're not going to play, and if they don't perform well in practice, they're not going to start," Sanders said. "That's how we go about practicing. The thought process of building up to Saturday. Saturday starts today, man. It doesn't start on Saturday. It starts today."

Contact Rashad Milligan at 601-862-6198 or Jmilligan@gannett.com. Follow @RashadMilligan on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Deion Sanders not a fan of Jackson State's role in ULM matchup