Sep 1, 2023 - Sports

It's showtime for Coach Prime and the Buffs

Deion Sanders during the Spring football game. Photo: Michael Ciaglo for The Washington Post via Getty Images

No coach in college football has taken the spotlight so quickly and shined it on himself like new Colorado head coach Deion Sanders.

Details: In a way, it's fitting. The two-time Super Bowl winner was nicknamed Prime Time during his NFL days, and as a coach, he's created a new persona: Coach Prime.

Why it matters: The Buffaloes had one win last season, a 20-13 overtime victory over Cal, but Sanders' arrival last December instantly made them nationally relevant.

State of play: Everything Sanders touches seems to turn to silver and gold — a key reason why CU athletic director Rick George decided to lure Sanders from Jackson State University.

  • Since Prime's arrival in Boulder, season tickets have sold out, merchandise is flying off the racks and top recruits and talented transfer players are creating a new-look team.

Driving the news: It's time, as they say, to put up or shut up. The Buffaloes have their first chance to show if they're more than just talk against No. 17 TCU on Saturday.

  • The game in Fort Worth, Texas, will be televised nationally on FOX at 10 am.
  • CU lost against the Horned Frogs 38-13 in their opening game last season.
Colorado running back Alex Fontenot is tackled by TCU Horned Frogs players in the first quarter of a game at Folsom Field on Sept. 2, 2022, in Boulder. Photo: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Reality check: "I know it may not seem like it, but it's not about me," Sanders said during a press conference on Tuesday about Saturday's game.

  • "This is about the kids, I want them to go out there and maximize the moment and take advantage of the exposure and the light that they have — and I feel like they will."

Of note: While Sanders proved he could win in the second tier — he posted a 27-6 record at Jackson State — the Buffaloes play in the top college football division in a power-five conference, which features the best and largest university programs in the country.

Between the lines: The coach's swift decision to tell some players they wouldn't be playing football in black and gold this season drove an unprecedented surge in new faces to the program with 53 incoming transfers, per ESPN.

  • Only 10 scholarship players from the 2022 roster are still with the team.
  • "I think there's a respect given to the guys on this roster who kind of survived the transfer portal stuff," CU Buffs beat reporter for DNVR Jake Schwanitz tells us.

What they're saying: "He's built his entire brand and who he is around these types of moments," Schwanitz said Sanders' coaching debut.

  • "I'm not worried about this team in the slightest in terms of the spotlight being too big for them," he said.

What we're watching: Two players who came to CU from Jackson State are expected to make an immediate impact — receiver and defensive back Travis Hunter and quarterback Shedeur Sanders.

  • Hunter is a preseason All-American and may be just as likely to prevent a touchdown as he is to score one.
  • Meanwhile, Sanders, Coach Prime's son, threw for 3,752 yards and 30 touchdowns last season.

💭 My thought bubble: The bar is pretty low for the Buffs.

  • But people are very excited. Winning multiple games will be considered progress under Coach Prime, and I think after this season, the expectations will only rise.
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