Deion Sanders Brings Star Power and Jersey Rules to Colorado Football

Written By T.J. McBride on 03/23/2023 - Last Updated on March 24, 2023
Deion Sanders University of Colorado

Deion Sanders, who is also known as Coach Prime to many, has flipped college football on its head over the past few years.

After being one of the most high-profile college football head coaches to work for a historically black college or university, Deion Sanders has elected to leave his former program, Jackson State University, to head for the bigger University of Colorado.

After an undefeated regular season with Jackson State University and all of the charisma and prestige he brings as a recruiter, there is no denying how massive of a figure Coach Prime is, but before getting into how hiring him to coach the University of Colorado football team will impact the program, let us take a look at how he arrived in Boulder, Colorado.

University of Colorado’s sports betting partnership with PointsBet

With the legalization of Colorado sports betting and expanded gambling becoming a consistent trend across the country, having someone prestigious like Coach Prime at the helm is sure to be financially beneficial to the athletic department and the University of Colorado as a whole.

As a matter of a fact, the University of Colorado already has a partnership with PointsBet Colorado Sportsbook that began back in 2020 which is sure to continue to thrive now that Coach Prime is leading their football program into the future.

“The five-year deal provides a financial boost for CU Athletics during a time when athletic department budgets nationwide are stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads a press release from the University of Colorado.

Coach Deion Sanders leaving Jackson State University for the University of Colorado

To say that Coach Prime leaving Jackson State University, a historically black college or university that he led to a 27-6 record in three seasons, for a Power Five program in the University of Colorado that won a single game last season in 12 tries was a divisive and polarizing decision would be quite the large understatement.

Many people felt betrayed by Sanders’ decision and harbored resentment toward him. Some could not fault Coach Prime for wanting more than to prop up struggling football programs. Some simply felt the money Sanders is making at the University of Colorado was just too much to pass up, but when Sanders talked with “The Pivot Podcast,” he provided his side of the story and his own feelings on what issues were at Jackson State and why he made the shift to coach the Buffaloes in Boulder, Colorado.

“It was the ideology, the thought process, the forward thinking. It was meeting me at the crossroad. That’s what was involved in that,” Coach Prime told The Pivot Podcast. “And sooner or later you have to look in the mirror and say, are they going to get there? Do they even want to get there? And I had to ask those questions and really be honest with them, with me and myself as well as my staff. The Bible says, ‘Thy rod and thy staff comfort me.’ They can’t be comforted making $60,000 the rest of their lives or $70,000. Not that that is bad. For everybody making $50,000-$60,000, I apologize. I don’t mean to demean you. But as a college football coach, that’s not good and we have to do better than that.”

From that quote, it seems Coach Prime’s issues with Jackson State University existed because of the lack of resources not only for him but for his coaching staff as well. He also blatantly questioned their intention of building a football program that could become college football national champions.

Without investment and resources, Coach Prime seemed to feel that spending any more of his time attempting to build Jackson State University into a powerhouse would be wasteful and ultimately unproductive. That is why he decided to move on and take the opportunity to coach at the University of Colorado.

“It seems hilarious to me that God could call me collect to come to Jackson, but he could not call me collect to go. See, that is the problem with us men; sometimes we outstay our time at certain places and certain things because we want to leave when we want to leave, not when we need to leave.”

Now, with the theatrics of his exit from Jackson State University in the rearview mirror, Sanders can begin looking toward his tenure as the head coach of the University of Colorado Buffaloes, where his impact has already been felt.

Coach Prime and his impact on the University of Colorado Buffaloes football program

There has been no shortage of buzz, dramatics, excitement, and impact from the hiring of Coach Prime to be the new head coach of the Buffaloes. All across the board, everything has been flipped on its head as it relates to Colorado’s football program.

We will focus on three specific examples of how hiring Coach Prime has sent shockwaves across Boulder, Colorado.

Recruiting for the University of Colorado

By far the most immediately impactful aspect of hiring Coach Prime to lead the Buffaloes is his ability to recruit high-end talent to join the University of Colorado football program to resurrect their success.

Already, Coach Prime has a recruiting class that features Cormani McClain, who is considered the best cornerback entering college. McClain originally committed to the University of Miami but switched to join Coach Prime and the Buffaloes.

Sanders also brought Travis Hunter with him from Jackson State University to the University of Colorado. Hunter was ESPN’s second-ranked recruit in the 2022 class. Colorado also brought in two other top-150 recruits to play for Coach Prime: running back Dylan Edwards from Kansas and wide receiver Adam Hopkins from Georgia.

Now, to round things out, Coach Prime got his quarterback as well. Danny O’Neil from Indiana.

“I just think the people there really sold it for me,” O’Neil told 247Sports. “Obviously, it’s a beautiful place, and a lot of hype there with Coach Prime, but being able to connect with Coach Prime and Coach Lewis really sold it for me and made it feel like home.”

Now that O’Neil is in the fold, he wants to also help contribute to the recruiting process for his new football program.

“I think my ability to now go recruit some of the top guys in the country and build one of the top classes is going to hopefully lead to championships in a few years,” O’Neil said.

Coach Prime’s attempts to change the culture of the University of Colorado’s football program

Coach Prime has no issue being exactly who he is at all times and demanding that his team also lives up to the expectations he has for them.

Already, Sanders is making everyone at the University of Colorado earn every aspect of their upcoming season, even down to their jersey numbers.

“If you want a number, you got to earn it,” Coach Prime said on a video posted on Well Off Media via Fox News. “The reason we’re here is because we ask you for the numbers that you desire, and a lot of you guys were desiring numbers that ain’t you. What I mean by that, a lineman is not wearing a single digit. That’s not gonna happen under me. And if you ain’t that guy, you’re not wearing a single digit.”

“Back in the day, when we came up, single digits was that guy,” Sanders explained. “It was him. It was who he was. How can you ask for No. 1 if you ain’t the one?”

Coach Prime’s view on jersey numbers did not stop their either. He then turned his focus on anyone who might want to wear the number zero.

“You’re not wearing zero. That would never happen because that means you’re nothing,” Sanders said. “I don’t understand who wants a zero. I don’t understand why you wanna be a nothing. I don’t get that.”

All of this hoopla about jersey numbers comes down to one simple theme that Coach Prime is looking to instill in his team.

“Everything you do around here will be earned. We ain’t giving you nothing,” Sanders said. “So you gotta go get it and you gotta take it.”

Photo by AP Photo / David Zalubowski
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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a Denver-based writer and reporter with an extensive background in covering the NBA and Denver Nuggets. T.J. is Southern California native who provides news and analysis on the legal gambling industry across a number of Catena Media's regional US sites.

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