Neill Woelk, Contributing Editor
BOULDER — Home run?
Nah. Bigger than that.
Colorado’s hiring of Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders isn’t just one swing of the bat. Sanders’ arrival is a program-changing, 180-degree tectonic shift that will immediately turn the focus of college football squarely on Boulder once again.
The analogy that fits?
With Colorado’s struggling football program facing a fourth-and-10 from the Buffaloes own 20, Athletic Director Rick George didn’t just try to extend the drive.
To heck with simply moving the chains.
George wanted to change the scoreboard, one that has seen Colorado on the short end of a long stick for too many years.
So George threw deep. He surveyed the field, studied the defense, considered the odds, and then ignored the conventional wisdom that suggested the Buffaloes should play it safe.
George went for the win — and if you listen closely today, you can hear Voice of the Buffs Mark Johnson …
“Touchdown! Touchdown Colorado!!”
Colorado’s hiring of Coach Prime is in every respect a game-changing moment. His arrival signifies a renewed commitment from everyone involved, from the very top of the CU administration on down.
The message is clear: The flagship program of CU Athletics is important. Its success is integral to the overall health of every program in the department — and it is incumbent upon every stakeholder involved to ensure the program is provided every opportunity to succeed.
Only time will tell what kind of results such a commitment will produce. But no crystal ball is needed to know this much:
Colorado football is relevant again.
The impact of Sanders’ arrival will be immediate.
Every high school recruit in the nation knows Deion Sanders’ name. No introduction will be necessary. If Sanders visits, recruits — and their parents — will listen. Sanders caused shockwaves in the recruiting world at Jackson State; it is safe to assume he will do the same — and more — in Boulder.
The situation will be the same with the transfer portal. Good and great players will be aching to suit up for Sanders. In an era when rebuilding a roster takes one offseason instead of three or four years, he is the perfect fit for the Buffaloes in that regard.
There is also the impact Sanders will have on donors and contributors to Name, Image and Likeness programs. Guaranteed, there will be a sudden and significant resurgence in people interested in being part of the CU and the Coach Prime experience.
And, quite obviously, the man can coach. In three years, he turned perennially downtrodden Jackson State into a winner, compiling a three-year record of 27-5 that culminated with a SWAC championship Saturday.
But there are other qualities that make Sanders the ideal choice for the Buffaloes.
He knows the importance of a quality coaching staff. His assistants at Jackson State included a healthy list of former NFL and college coaches, men who know the game. There is no doubt he will assemble a similar lineup at Colorado.
Sanders has also proven to be a solid mentor for young men at Jackson State. While he clearly carries the swagger that helped him become one of the best all-around athletes of a generation, he also demands accountability from his players.
He encourages them to sit in the front of the classroom and engage with their teachers and professors. While he did not implement a strict dress code, he encouraged his players to look the part and represent their university in a solid light.
And, of course, there is simply the star power that Coach Prime brings to the table.
Social media was ablaze Saturday night as his move to CU became a reality. There may be no other coaching hire this year that commands the attention that George has created by hiring Sanders. It is indeed a game-changer in every sense of the term.
Can you hear that?
“Touchdown! Touchdown Colorado!”
The Buffaloes are indeed again ready for Prime Time.