Fear not Boulder, Colorado, Deion Sanders is here to save Colorado football. All he needed when he stepped off a private jet was his own silk cape to accompany his messiah complex. If the extremes and excesses of the NIL era were molded into human form, it would be the man known as Coach Prime.
On Sunday, Sanders peacocked his way into the Colorado practice facility and made a bizarre first impression. He instantly proclaimed his son the starting quarterback before he’d officially entered the transfer portal and made sure to promote himself as the savior of Colorado football. There wasn’t much talk of building Colorado’s players up. He made sure to note that any student-athletes he doesn’t deem worthy are welcome to leave. He dehumanized and insulted his team full of FBS student-athletes he’s been tasked with leading by informing them that he’s got his own guys from a lower subdivision of football ready to take their spots so they might as well hop into the portal ASAP.
“We got a few positions already taken care of because I’m bringing my luggage with me… And it’s Louis [Vuitton],” Sanders said to an auditorium of returning Colorado players.
It’s the most egotistical we’ve seen him yet. There’s no I in team, but there is one in Deion and two in Primetime. The purpose of the transfer portal was to give student-athletes a second chance at another program, not a doorway for new coaches to shove players out the emergency exits en masse. College football is a big business, but it’s never been more cutthroat than this. We’ve seen coaches utilize Twitter to appeal to recruits, but they’ve never gone full Elon Musk on their players in full view.
After assuming control of Twitter, Musk thought of himself as a hammer who saw nails all over the damn place. He quickly began firing developers and mocked them in tweets, then backtracked on big plans after he got out front of his own skis. The cult of Musk is exactly what Sanders has going for him, but without the social (media) awkwardness.
Sanders will undoubtedly provide a sugar high to Colorado that they haven’t experienced in decades. The expectations are low at Colorado after a 20-year in which they’ve won just 89 games. At this point, bowl eligibility would be deemed a productive season. Colorado is Prime Academy 3.0. The original Prime Academy is defunct thanks in part to Sanders’ incompetence, but while it was open, the school served as a vehicle for his football aspirations.
According to On3’s Josh Newberg, a torrent of NIL opportunities will be flooding into the University of Colorado. He quickly secured a commitment from 5-star IMG Academy wide receiver Winston Watkins Jr. First he has to make it to 2025 just to get Watkins on campus.
Those are small victories, but one or two 5-star recruits won’t change Colorado’s fortunes in the Pac-12. It will take multiple recruiting classes and a coaching philosophy that can give them a marginal advantage over the Pac-12’s middle class.
After a 13-0 season at Jackson State, Sanders is flying high, but so was Icarus. Sanders’ recruiting advantage at Jackson State will be nullified in the Pac-12. CB Travis Hunter won’t be enough to single-handedly lift Colorado’s secondary and Shiloh Sanders wasn’t a full-time starter at South Carolina earlier in his career.
Former 4-star prep quarterback Shedeur Sanders will be the starting quarterback in 2023, but the gap between him and his SWAC peers has been erased. Against SWAC competition, Deion tried to throw him into the Heisman discussion. In 2023, Shedeur will be measured against more accomplished starters like Washington State’s Cameron Ward, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., and USC’s Caleb Williams. The No. 2 quarterback in Shedeur’s prep class in 2021 will be a backup for the Huskies. The No. 7 quarterback in 247 Sports’ Composite Rankings, Ty Thompson, lost his starting job at Oregon to Auburn transfer Bo Nix.
Colorado needs an adult in charge as much as it needs wins. The Elon Musk bravado worked in a conference that cares more about halftime shows than football, but we’ve seen how his overconfidence and alienation strategy has decimated his personal wealth as well as that of Twitter and Tesla. Sanders will utilize the transfer portal and his unique connections to attract NIL money, celebrities and make high school athletes aware that the University of Colorado exists. He’s already created a new energy around the program, but his actual coaching acumen and ability to build a D-I staff will be tested.
Deion Sanders’ Colorado football stint will either be his crowning achievement or a real-life parable for Icarus flying too close to the sun.