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There was a moment on the field after Colorado’s improbable victory over TCU where Colorado coach Deion Sanders embraced with TCU’s star cornerback and likely first-round pick, Josh Newton, for several moments. It’s anyone’s guess what was exchanged. Perhaps it was Sanders and his particular brand of sermonizing, giving the senior words of encouragement. Or perhaps it was Newton telling Sanders that he should have come to Colorado during the transfer portal.
Deion Sanders and his much anticipated debut as Colorado’s new coach was not just an upset of the runner-up to the national championship, on its home field. It was an earthquake for college football. The shockwaves have yet to all be completely felt. But they will be felt forevermore.
CU entered the game as a 20-point underdog on the books. They walked away with a record-setting performance, from a largely unknown roster of campus transfers and led by players from smaller Historically Black College Universities, players Sanders was accused of using to leverage himself into a more powerful and prestigious position. He did not take kindly to that accusation, and he kept receipts.
Much still has to be written on Sanders legacy at both Colorado, and when he should decide to move on from Colorado. But for now he has reshaped the landscape in his image, and that may not change anytime soon. Coaches and recruiters from even some of the most prestigious and respected football institutions in the country are now going to have to contend with the Prime Factor. Their own players watched TCU’s Newton embrace the opposing head coach, and they know that every living room of a five-star recruit that they walk into, Coach Prime Sanders likely has already been to, or will be visiting in the near future. Athletic Directors at universities will now all be scrambling for their own “Coach Prime.” The problem is there is no other Deion Sanders. He’s uniquely one of a kind.
Deion Sanders Knows Football Is A Business
Sanders isn’t selling himself as just the iconic coach of a big-time college football program. He’s selling players and recruits on the lifestyle of pro football. He can prepare them not only on the field for Saturdays, but is preparing them off the field for NFL Sundays. He has embraced the cameras, the social media, the controversial NIL standards that other programs seem to just begrudgingly accept. Sanders has positioned his players in roles that take on other teams, but also the media spotlight, something he duly reminded them all of in his Muhammad Ali like post game press conference where he reminded several national writers about their own predictions and words.
Sanders tells his players lean into that life, because he knows football is a business. He is giving his players unique knowledge to prepare them for life in the NFL, not just football games. Almost no other mentor can bring that to the table None of this, of course, works without success on the field. Whether it has been Sanders coaching some of these current players since their youth, his own children, or players from Colorado’s historically bad team last season, he is making them all believe.
With Sanders, it’s easy to get wrapped up in persona. It always has been with him, and the media world continues to wait and watch for his fall. But behind the flash, and the Prime Time, lies a pretty hardened and old school football coach, who not only tells his kids what they need to know about life and the game, but also what they need to believe. Sanders has what was previously one of the worst football programs in the country, finally believing. He did it almost literally by himself and the influence of his persona. The NCAA landscape has yet to realize the repercussions of his arrival and how other programs may try to emulate what he did in a matter of months.
Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze on TwitterX) is a contributing editor for The Spectator. He also hosts the Versus Media podcast on Substack and has written For National Review and the New York Post, previously.