If generating headlines and media buzz is now the game in college football, then the University of Colorado undoubtedly made the right decision in hiring NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders as its new head football coach.
“Coach Prime” might not be ready to make the jump from Jackson State, HBCUs, and lower-level FCS to upper FBS and a Power Five conference in the Pac-12. But if football is football, Sanders brings an impressive record to Boulder and an ability to recruit top-flight talent attracted to his personality and history as a player. Everyone following college football will be curious to see if Coach Prime finds success and maybe moves up to an even more established program.
This week, Demetri Ravanos invited me onto his Media Noise podcast for Barrett Sports Media to discuss a column I wrote on Sanders and how he’ll provide plenty of content for college football media to cover. You can listen to the show below. My segment begins at the 4:21 mark:
As we touched on, Demetri initially suggested writing about Sanders coming in like a new program director taking over a radio station, or a programming executive taking the top job at a TV station, and how that would make everyone nervous about their job status. Sanders arrived on campus and immediately put everyone in the football program on notice. He’s bringing in his people. Players and coaches already there will have to fight for their jobs.
To me, that was too narrow an angle to take on the story. BSM is essentially a trade publication for sports radio and TV (along with news radio and TV), so I understand Demetri suggesting that direction. But I wanted to take a bigger-picture view and how college football media will be covering Colorado football and Sanders much more than they have in the past 20 years. Maybe Demetri’s angle was right for BSM, but it didn’t feel right for me as a writer.
Besides, I have a somewhat personal interest in this. The downfall of Colorado into college football irrelevance has puzzled me because I was a huge fan of the Buffaloes in the early 1990s. My father took an interest in them because head coach Bill McCartney was an assistant at Michigan under Bo Schembechler. But they were also an exciting team to watch with quarterback Darian Hagan, tailback Eric Bieniemy, and receiver Charles Johnson leading their wishbone offense.
I had a Colorado sweatshirt and cap, which concerned my grandmother enough to ask my parents if I wanted to go to school there. (I thought she was worried about me going so far away, but she was surely more concerned about my parents having to pay for it.) My interest eventually waned, probably killed by Kordell Stewart’s amazing, last-second 64-yard pass to Michael Westbrook for a 27-26 victory at Michigan Stadium. Yep, I was in the stands for that one.
If Colorado does anything like that under Deion Sanders, it’ll be one hell of a revival. Reporters and analysts covering college football will be watching to see if it happens.