One of the biggest coaching changes in college football took place earlier this year. Coach Deion Sanders made the move from Jackson State to the University of Colorado. The Buffs were once a college football power and are looking to regain that status with the help of Coach Prime.
While there is a lot that needs to happen to achieve that result, fans and alumni cannot help but be excited. What is Sanders bringing to the table? What will he need to address in order to get the Buffs back to a place of relevance?
If you bet on sports in Colorado, you should back the Buffaloes next season with Coach Prime at their helm!
What Coach Prime has taken over
To say that the University of Colorado has been bad for most of recent memory would be an understatement. Before we get into what’s wrong, let’s talk about what used to be right with the program.
The team won a national championship, the only in program history, came in 1990. They have 19 conference championships to their name most of which are from the Big 8/12 days. They even have a Heisman winner to their credit, running back Rashaan Salaam in 1994.
The team has since transitioned from the Big 12 to the Pac 12. Even then, things were on the downslide prior to leaving the Big 12. Their last winning season came in 2005 with a 7-6 record and the Buffs had six consecutive losing seasons before moving conferences.
Since moving to the Pac 12 in 2011, the Buffs have one winning season (10-4 in 2016). They have lost 10 or more games four times. The final straw came in 2022, with the Buffs going 1-11 and going through a pair of coaches.
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) March 22, 2023
What he brings to the table
The million-dollar question is “can Coach Prime turn the program around?” His short tenure at Jackson State certainly shows a ton of promise. He took a Division II school and made it a destination. So much so that he took five-star prospects from major programs like Florida State and brought them to JSU.
The results showed on the field. His first year at JSU, 2020, was interrupted by COVID but saw a modest improvement to 4-3. In 2021, Jackson State went 11-2, finishing with a top 20 ranking in the coaches poll. He would follow that up with a 12-1 season in 2022 and a ranking as high as 11th.
The most important thing that Sanders did was invest in the program. He changed the culture, making it a destination to go to JSU. Instead of being seen as a second-rate program, he made it a place for top prospects to go. He also personally invested in the program, revamping weight rooms, improving nutrition, and more. It is part of the reason he became available in the first place.
Deion Sanders on the weather & crime in boulder Colorado 😭
“I love the weather & there’s no crime…It was 4 weeks before I saw a Police, I stopped him” pic.twitter.com/mkNRjPtX9i
— Shannonnn sharpes Burner (PARODY Account) (@shannonsharpeee) February 10, 2023
Where to start?
No coach, regardless of pedigree, will completely change a program in one year. In a major conference like the Pac-12, any progress made will have to be made gradually. After all, it is going to take a few years for Coach Prime to see some of his recruits take the field.
Where he will need to start – and where he showed success at Jackson State – is changing the culture. Right now, the University of Colorado is associated with losing. Moreover, it is associated with losing in embarrassing fashion.
He is changing that culture with an attitude that does not ask for forgiveness. He invited players who didn’t want to be in Boulder to “jump in that [transfer] portal”. On the other hand, he has brought in some coveted transfers and a vaunted top-25 recruiting class.
He is making Colorado a destination. Sanders himself is a celebrity and he is making it a place for other celebrities to get on board. They hosted rapper Lil Wayne, showing him the revamped locker room that drew his awe.
First off I would like to thank my parents for their endless love and support. You guys have given me every opportunity I could have asked for without ever questioning a thing. I want to thank my Cathedral coaches and the Morelli family for supporting me and pushing me to become… pic.twitter.com/DWwAA4Dq9Z
— Danny O’Neil (@danny_oneil18) March 21, 2023
The talent will come
Sanders isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel with his efforts. He understands that, in order to attract top talent, he has to make it a place players, coaches, and boosters want to flock to. He has already made a huge splash in a single offseason, though it remains to be seen whether they will have an impact on the field.
If for nothing else, Sanders has been successful in bringing eyes to the program. He hopes to bring the program back to national relevance again on the field and the task will be much taller than it was at Jackson State.
Sanders is smart enough to depend on his staff for the x’s and o’s, leaving the building of the program in his hands. While there may not be talk of a national championship anytime soon, Coach Prime has his eyes set on much more attainable goals in the near future.
Colorado’s Deion Sanders Making Players Wear Blank Jerseys, Earn Numbers During Spring Practice (pic @CUBuffsFootball)
— Chris Creamer (@sportslogosnet) March 22, 2023
Credits on Featured Image: Deion Sanders speaks after being introduced as the new head football coach at the University of Colorado during a news conference Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. The University of Colorado introduced a pilot program that makes the credit review for transfer students a more seamless process. It may have been the move that ultimately lured Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders to Boulder. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski/Digital License)