Is Colorado Ready for Prime Time? The Impact of Deion Sander’s Appointment as Colorado Head Coach

Nikhil Dhruv ’26 in Sports | September 29, 2023

          On December 3, 2022, it was announced that Deion Sanders would take the position of head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, the football team at The University of Colorado Boulder (Colorado), on a $30 million five-year contract. In order to truly understand the significance of this appointment, we need to dive deep into the background of Deion Sanders. Sanders, born in Florida, had an extremely successful career in the National Football League (NFL), where he played for numerous teams and earned numerous accolades including two Super Bowl championships and an NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1994. He also played baseball professionally, which, in addition to his football ability, earned him the nickname Prime Time. He retired at the end of the 2005 season and took a short break before he became a sports broadcaster. In 2020, he became the head coach at Jackson State University (JSU). In his first season, which was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanders led the team to a mediocre season, ultimately ending with a 4-3 record. The following year Sanders bounced back and led the team to a successful 12-1 season. At the end of the 2021-22 season, Prime Time was offered a lucrative deal, and since then, everything has been different. 
           Sanders did not come to Colorado alone, however. Numerous other players were enthused at the idea of being coached by Sanders, which led to 53 players, including nine from JSU, coming to Colorado via the transfer portal—the transfer portal allows athletes to place their name on an online source, which shows coaches that they are open to a transfer to a different school. This move left the world of college football in shock, and should have proved to everyone that Sanders was to be taken seriously as a coach. While there certainly are numerous people who see Sanders as a person who has influenced the football community in a positive way, there are also a fair amount of haters. Some people believe that Sanders is more of a brand name rather than a coach, and his Colorado team will not  be legitimate contenders in the college football scene because of this. This sentiment has even been shared by people within the college football landscape, with University of Oregon’s coach, Dan Lanning, claiming that “[Oregon] are fighting for the clicks” while “[Oregon is] fighting for wins.”
          The contract that Colorado gave to Sanders was the most the college has ever given to a head coach, and it was a huge gamble for the organization, but they had no other option. Colorado had a very unsuccessful football program and was not taken seriously before Deion arrived, winning only one  game in the 2022-23 season. If they wanted to rejuvenate their football program there would have to be numerous huge changes. Bringing Sanders over gave Colorado fans hope for a good season, but only time can tell how well this plan works out. 
          So far this season, the Buffaloes have won three out of their four games; already a higher tally than the singular win the team amassed last year. Star players such as Travis Hunter, Dylan Edwards, and Deion Sanders’ third child, Sheduer Sanders, have already stepped up for the team. Travis Hunter has been a phenomenal two-way player as he had 11 catches for 119 yards on offense to go along with an interception and three tackles on defense in his first game of the season. Dylan Edwards is leading the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns as he has been a reliable target for Sheduer so far this season Sheduer has been playing himself into Heisman-award conversations. Sheduer’s best performance so far came in a victory against the TCU Horned Frogs, where he threw for 510 yards and four touchdowns. The team’s immediate success has led to excitement amongst fans all over the country as they seem to be on the headlines every week thus far. Overall, the program has gone from a team that was rarely talked about to a powerhouse with seemingly unlimited media coverage, thanks to changes both on the field and the sideline. There is unprecedented excitement around Colorado football this year thanks to Coach Sanders, and the whole nation is eager to see if the team is ready for Prime Time.