Theodros: It’s time to respect Coach Prime

Matthew Theodros | staff writer

In the world of college football, the Colorado Buffaloes have always been a team known for their rich history and tradition. However, in recent years, the Buffaloes have struggled to find success on the field. Years of mediocrity and sub-500 performance have had fans begging for a change of culture.

That all changed when Hall of Famer and NFL legend Deion Sanders took the helm as the head coach for the Buffaloes. With his unmatched passion for the game and a commitment to excellence, Sanders has revived football in Colorado.

Following a 1-11 season where the previous coach was fired, Colorado needed a new voice in that locker room. The culture he has instilled into that program has transcended football and is the talk of the sports world.

Celebrities and large network personalities such as Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Shannon Sharpe and Steven A. Smith all made appearances at the Colorado games. The speed at which Sanders has turned a losing program into a cultural phenomenon is unprecedented.

The revenue he is generating from increased secondary ticket prices and record-high ESPN viewership has brought in boatloads of cash for the school. His usage of the transfer portal has done wonders for the team as over 70 new players arrived this semester.

At quarterback, Deion’s son, Shadeur, has taken the football world by storm with his electric playmaking and swift footwork. Transitioning from Jackson State alongside his father was the best thing to happen in his young career.

Dual-threat Travis Hunter has made his case as one of the great college football stars playing both wide receiver and cornerback. Before his injury against Colorado State, the second-year star was poised to be a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Colorado began the 2023 season with an impressive 3-0 record including an upset at last year’s National Champion runner-up TCU.

Week four was not as kind to Deion and his crew heading to Oregon. The Ducks crushed Colorado 42-6 in what was their first test of the young season. Hunter’s absence was noticeable as the defense struggled to contain Oregon’s high-powered offense.

Despite that, the Buffaloes have taken the world by storm and become must-watch television. The Nielsen-measured audience for Colorado-Oregon was the largest of the season, and Colorado has now played in four of the seven top-viewed games this season.

The national spotlight is one thing, but what is worth noticing is the criticism the team and, more specifically, Deion have received over the past few weeks.

Narratives began to form and opinions amongst the masses changed toward Deion. The majority of the praise the coach was receiving became bitter remarks and unwarranted scrutiny.

Former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Danny Kanell was one of many media members to voice their opinion on Deion and Colorado’s success.

“Simple. People were exhausted with the over-the-top coverage of Deion,” Kanell said. “Every pregame speech aired ALL day on every ESPN show on loop. Overhyping average wins. That’s it.”

A conversation that should be about the game of football has become an attempt to diminish his newly-gained success. People are not able to forget Deion the player while speaking about Deion the coach.

Comments questioning his character and attitude are ironic, especially in a sport that praises hard-minded and outspoken coaches. Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh are praised countlessly for their confidence and presence in the coaching atmosphere.

But for some reason, Sanders’ unconventional methods to success have led to disrespect from other people in the college football world.

At the height of the Buffaloes’ winning streak, rival Head Coach Jay Norvell took aim at Sanders for his sleek and informal talking to reporters and coaches, saying “When I talk to grown-ups, I take my hat and glasses off. That’s what my mother taught me.”

It reveals a fear that coaches have now that the system has changed. NIL deals have become a focal point of college recruiting and no longer are the traditional methods of getting top-tier players the same.

Sadly, it is not surprising to see how the dialogue has changed regarding Sanders. In a world where minorities get opportunities and achievement, there is often pushback and attempts to silence them.

This animosity against Sanders is nothing new and more of the same from his playing days. What should be widespread praise of a Black man succeeding has become a sour conversation that is dominated by negative perspectives.