Deion Sanders: “Treat Me Like Nick”
Second-year head coach of Jackson State football, Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, abruptly ended his Southwestern Athletic Conference press conference when a reporter, Nick Suss, called him by his first name.
Sanders told Suss and the reporters as he left the room "You don't call Nick Saban, 'Nick.' Don't call me Deion. If you call Nick (Saban), Nick, you'll get cussed out on the spot, so don't do that to me," Sanders later added. "Treat me like Nick."
Suss, who is primarily an Ole Miss beat reporter for Clarion Ledger in Mississippi, says he always calls his interview subjects by their first name, regardless of status.
"Whether it's someone I've been working with for years or someone I'm talking to for the first time," Suss told his own news outlet. "This is true of the coaches and players on the Ole Miss beat, the coaches and players at Mississippi State and Southern Miss when I help out covering their teams and, as recently as January, even Sanders, too."
The Clarion Ledger went as far as to say Suss had called the likes of Lane Kiffin, Mississippi State baseball coach Chris Lemonis and even Nick Saban himself by their first names.
Not-so-surprisingly, this isn't the first time the topic of Nick Saban being called by his first name in a press conference has stirred raging debate on social media. In December 2020, ahead of the Rose Bowl College Football Playoff game with Notre Dame, a young reporter addressed Saban before her question with "Hi, Saban!"
This drew the ire of Rick Karle, a tv sports reporter from Birmingham, who posted a 621-word Facebook post to air his grievances on the subject. Not many media members or fans agreed with Karle, who didn't title Saban as 'coach,' 'sir,' or 'Mr.' in his Twitter bio at the time which mentioned the time he went fishing with the seven-time national champion coach.
Regardless, Saban did not cuss out that particular young reporter nor any of the hundreds of journalists and media personalities who have addressed him as simply 'Nick' in any setting over his 30-plus-year coaching career. He's never addressed the situation either.
Maybe one brave soul will ask 'Nick' the pressing question at SEC Media Days Wednesday. Maybe coach Prime, er... coach Sanders (that's not even allowed in AP Style writing, by the way) should tune in to see how Saban conducts a press conference.