Deion Sanders swagger makes Colorado stand out and mirrors college football

Deion Sanders is the perfect disruptor for this college football moment. The sport’s establishment has underestimated him in a way his over-the-top mouth can’t express. Here he comes, loud and proud, armed with the coaching flair and nimble leadership to weather a wild time.

Sanders, who was once derided as a famous misfit posing as a coach, is now in danger of becoming a fraud. After a 27-6 record at Jackson State, Coach Prime is the talk of the industry after making his debut with Colorado. The Buffaloes, who finished 11-1 last season, defeated No. 17 TCU 45-42 away on Saturday. Sanders was not a friend of modesty and went on to scold anyone who resembled a naysayer.

His antics, which included some “Do you believe now?” heckling from a reporter, hampered appreciation of the overwhelming victory. Sanders maxed out the disrespect card because playing the underdog isn’t his style. He added arrogance because after almost 40 years in the spotlight, who expects anything else from Sanders?

Sanders describes himself as the most honest coach in the sport, which is akin to claiming to be the fastest long snapper. Honesty is not at the top of the job description. There are many bad actors pretending to be virtuous leaders of people. Sanders is neither hero nor villain, neither trustworthy nor deceitful. He’s Coach Prime. He is who he is, down to the way he overuses “Durn” to maintain his brave PG.

Deion Sanders and Colorado pull off a statement win — and then make many statements

Sanders leaves no doubt as to why he came to Colorado: to build a dominant program. He plans to achieve this by using the current structure of the sport to his advantage, rather than complaining.

When Sonny Dykes joined TCU a year ago, he turned the transfer portal into his lifesaver, turning the Horned Frogs from a 5-7 team into a 13-2 team that advanced to the national title game. And Colorado narrowly beat TCU with extreme use of the transfer portal.

When Sanders took office, he made the controversial remark to the Colorado remnants, “‘I’ll bring my bags, and it’s Louis.’ [Vuitton].” The Buffaloes started the season with 86 new players on their roster. More than 50 of them transferred to the program from another college, including Two-Way star Travis Hunter and the head coach’s sons, quarterback Shedeur Sanders and safety Shilo Sanders.

They all played for Coach Prime at Jackson State, and in their first game in the Division I major league on Saturday, Shedeur threw for a school-record 510 yards and four touchdowns, Shilo had 10 tackles and Hunter recorded a remarkable 129 snaps as he finished the game with 11 catches for 119 yards as receiver and made an abrupt interception in the red zone as cornerback.

As a coach, Sanders is an interesting combination of old and new school mixed in with something he must have taught himself at home. He is inflexible when it comes to manners and appropriate dress at meetings. But his teams play with flair and the coach is just as obsessed with their style of play as he was during his Hall of Famer career. He inspires respect, inspires laughter and delivers the most charismatic unscripted locker room speeches.

To build a stable program, Sanders must show patience and refrain from changing rosters so dramatically from year to year. But in the future he will rate his players. For all the criticism he’s faced for his callousness in encouraging the transfer of most of last year’s team – there are only about ten grantees left of that squad – Sanders has been outspoken. He’s not shy. And it seems the roster this new coaching staff has assembled is just what the program needed.

Sanders came to win. He will exploit what he can exploit. Most coaches couldn’t stand so many roster changes. He could, and while a winning debut won’t define an entire season, he has momentum now.

It seemed impossible. The Buffaloes lost their last six games last season, five of them by 33 points or more. The total of the last four games was 221-55. They conceded at least 38 points in all but one game last season.

On Saturday, their overhauled defense struggled. So they just went ahead and surpassed TCU. Suddenly there is hope for a program with a .338 win ratio over the past 12 seasons.

From June: It’s “Coach Prime” time in Colorado

No matter what Sanders triggers in you, his attraction is inevitable. He is full of contradictions, but he embodies self-confidence. He’s a mirror for college football. The way he navigates the sport and the minimal level of hypocrisy he displays gives a more realistic picture of the game.

In the midst of the Pac-12’s collapse, Sanders spoke the truth about the realignment.

“This is all about the money,” he told reporters in Colorado ahead of the season. “It’s about a bag. Everyone is chasing a bag and then you get mad at the players for chasing it. How is that? How can adults get mad at players when colleges are chasing them?”

Sanders can switch back and forth between his 56-year-old mentality and the way a player thinks. He’s already an excellent recruiter, but when you add his star power, early coaching success and perspective, you can see the potential. There is only one Deion Sanders, and his appeal is greater than old footage of his sporting glory.

On Saturday, following his first triumph in the Football Bowl Subdivision, he spoke about the struggle for respect Black coaches face.

“We are constantly being questioned for doing things that have never been done before. And that makes people uncomfortable,” Sanders said. “When you see a confident black man sitting up here giving his speeches, going his own way and training 75 percent African American in a locker room, it’s kind of ominous. Oh, they don’t like that.

“But guess what? We’re going to be consistent in doing what we’re doing because I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. I’ll get comfortable in a moment. I’ll get comfortable in a moment.”

If Sanders acts like this before he’s comfortable, oh my god.

Here he comes, his gold chain gleams, his ambition as flashy as his jewelry. For months, you’ve wondered if Sanders could adjust to big college football. It is now all the more exciting to see how the sport will adapt to him. Deion Sanders swagger makes Colorado stand out and mirrors college football

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