Bettors Eye CU Football As Coach Prime Readies Team For 2024 Season

Written By Cheryl Coward on 04/12/2024
A Colorado University football player tackling his opponent.

When Colorado Buffaloes football coach Deion Sanders speaks, people listen.

And if his recollection of figures from the Colorado Athletics compliance staff is correct, that includes tens of thousands of fans wagering hundreds of millions of dollars.

On Robert Griffin III’s podcast “The Ones” in January, Sanders shared what he had learned.

“We just had a team meeting downstairs with compliance and so forth, academics, and they were telling the kids about not betting. They said, ‘700 million dollars were bet on Colorado games last year … 700 million’. I said, ‘Can we get a cut?’”

While NCAA rules prohibit coaches, staff, players and administrators from betting on college games, Coach Prime’s joke highlights the eye-popping amount of money generated from wagering on college football.

Sanders’ first season at Colorado will be subject of ‘Coach Prime’ on Amazon

The state boasts nearly two dozen Colorado online sports betting operators. Colorado was one of the early states to embrace sports betting after the US Supreme Court’s ruling in 2018.

Despite a 4-8 record in his first season with the Buffs, Sanders remains the talk of the town, if not the nation, due to his flashy, confident and charismatic persona. Four wins was actually a significant improvement over the previous season, when the team logged just one victory. Colorado hasn’t had a winning season since 2016.

As Sanders prepares his team for its second season under his leadership, the Amazon original documentary series “Coach Prime” is doing the same. The first season focused on Sanders’ Jackson State coaching career, where he rejuvenated the football program at the historically black university. The upcoming season will look at Prime’s first year with the Buffs.

He arrived in Boulder for the 2023 season with his football-playing sons in tow and a daughter who is a guard on the Colorado women’s basketball team. It, too, garnered heavy betting action when it faced a Caitlin Clark-led Iowa in the Sweet 16 last month.

Colorado betting on record-setting roll

This year’s betting action could surpass what Sanders voiced. January’s handle for Colorado sportsbooks set a record with $53.5 million in adjusted gross revenue, a 32% month-over-month increase and a whopping 50.8% year-over-year jump.

During the height of the 2023 college football season, the handle for the sport in Colorado was around $52.1 million, behind pro football and pro basketball.

With the steady growth each month since then, it won’t be a surprise if college football bets experience a significant jump in the fall when the Buffs take the field for regular-season play. Last season, every home game sold out at the 50,183-seat Folsom Field for the first time in program history.

The future of Colorado football

Colorado will enter the season returning to the Big 12 after over a decade in the Pac-12. Fellow former Pac-12 member Arizona joins the Buffs in their new conference.

In the meantime, as fans await the regular season, they can look forward to the annual Black & Gold Day Spring Game this month. Set for April 27, the event will be another Coach Prime special. Last year, it sold out for the first time and aired on ESPN, as over 47,000 Buffs faithful sat in the stands.

This year, fans will get a first glimpse at 28 newcomers, four out of high school and 22 from the transfer portal. They include the most four- and five-star recruits in program history. The high school class includes the nation’s top-ranked tackle, Jordan Seaton, out of IMG Academy in Florida.

But true to the Prime era, the game will not be the only showcase. Sanders has turned it into a multi-day affair that begins Thursday, April 25, with multiple events, including a talent show and a football alumni reunion. There will even be a postgame concert headlined by hip-hop star Lil Wayne and an after-party.

2024 Colorado Buffs football schedule

  • Saturday, Aug. 31: home vs. North Dakota State
  • Saturday, Sept. 7: at Nebraska
  • Saturday, Sept. 14: at Colorado State
  • Saturday, Sept. 21: home vs. Baylor
  • Saturday, Sept. 28: at UCF
  • Saturday, Oct. 12: home vs. Kansas State
  • Saturday, Oct. 19: at Arizona
  • Saturday, Oct. 26: home vs. Cincinnati
  • Saturday, Nov. 9: at Texas Tech
  • Saturday, Nov. 16: home vs. Utah
  • Saturday, Nov. 23: at Kansas
  • Friday, Nov. 29: home vs. Oklahoma State

Times and broadcast information will be released in late May or early June.

Photo by AP Photo / J.D. Pooley
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Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward is a contributor for PlayColorado with a background in sports journalism. She started her career as a news reporter in Washington, DC. She’s a die-hard women’s basketball fanatic and founded the website as a result of that passion. She has extensive experience covering gambling and sports betting in California.

View all posts by Cheryl Coward