Colorado Football: A Lightning Rod of Attention and Controversy
One year has turned Colorado from an afterthought to the forefront of college football. The talk of college football after one week is Colorado, and everybody has an opinion. Deion Sanders has transformed the football team into a lightning rod of attention, good and bad, which has invigorated a fanbase, infuriated the sport’s faithful, and caused everyone in between to have thoughts about how he’s doing business.
Colorado proved this team can’t simply be ignored as detractors hoped. They waltzed into Fort Worth against No. 17 TCU and made the loudest statement of the week by beating a team that was in the 2022 National Championship game. The truth is that Sanders and Co. made the highest level of FBS look easy, and that’s earned swagger that a lot of people hate — but there’s a little more to how the Buffaloes are viewed than this alone.
Why people love Colorado
Deion Sanders. The man is one of the biggest personalities football has ever seen and he’s a breath of fresh air to the stuffy, stoic ranks of boring football coaches. Deion has never been apologetic for his brilliance and made it clear this isn’t business as usual since setting foot in Boulder.
Sanders delivered on the belief that HBCU’s are chronically overlooked in the CFB landscape. He essentially portaled all his star players over from Jackson State, got rid of the chaff in Colorado, and honed his team overnight into a force that can dominate. It’s an incredible underdog story that caused the school to match their 2022 win total in just one game.
When it comes to the business of college football, there’s no bullshit when it comes to Deion. He hasn’t promised coaching platitudes about “moulding young men” or “building a culture”; instead, he’s let his players know, very succinctly: I’ll make you famous, you’ll make me look good, and we’re both going to get paid.
If you’re a fan of Sanders, you love Colorado by extension. If you believe that his no-nonsense, often brutal approach to creating a winning program is what the sport needs, then you love Colorado. If you’re simply looking for someone to come in and shake up the establishment, then you love Colorado.
Why people hate Colorado
Deion Sanders. There’s an aversion to ego that made Deion polarizing as a player, and as a coach, that’s only grown. If you don’t like players who talk big, then you sure as hell are going to hate it when a coach does it. Even though there’s an inherent fallacy to the archetype of “the father figure football coach,” people still love to hear about these lofty ideals of turning student-athletes into wonderful men and teaching them to “win the right way.” Deion cares less about tradition.
This cutthroat way of looking at football has also had some really horrible ramifications. Deion kept saying he was fully committed to Jackson State, with a goal of building up HBCUs as a result, yet he jumped at the first major FBS job offer and took the team’s best players and coaches with him. An inherent lack of loyalty is part of the gig when it comes to being a CFB coach, as they’re always looking for the next opportunity, but it felt especially unfair when it meant using Jackson State as a stepping stone so quickly, barely after the school’s ascent began. It really hurt the school as a result and left the team in tatters.
People also bristle because of Deion’s insistence that people “believe” in Colorado. This is fine when it comes to players and fans, but jumps the shark when he bans reporters from the locker room or refuses to answer their questions because they didn’t pick his team to win on Saturday. It’s not the job of analysts to “believe” in any team, and trying to shame them into compliance is an unnecessary way to get his point across.
It would be remiss not to mention there’s a racial element to this as well. Sanders is taking a predominantly black team, with 10 transfers from an HBCU, into a predominantly white FBS environment and challenging the system. When TCU fans are shouting abusive language at Sanders before the game when they don’t do that to other coaches — it’s telling.
Ultimately, Colorado is Deion Sanders now, for better and worse
Overnight, Sanders’ huge personality has eclipsed Colorado itself. In one game, he’s already regarded in vaunted circles as being synonymous with the school, like Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney.
Every week will be a chance for his fans and detractors to relish the Buffaloes’ wins and losses, affirming their biases on both sides of the spectrum. This is what Sanders does; it’s in his DNA — and you either love him for that or think he’s a carnival barker because of it.
Time will tell whether his team’s win over TCU was a blip on the radar or a sign of more brilliance to come. If Colorado keeps rolling all the way to bowl season, the arguing over the nature of this school will only get more intense, the takes hotter, and the anger more furious.
Only one thing can be agreed on: Colorado football isn’t boring anymore.
This post “Colorado Football: A Lightning Rod of Attention and Controversy” was published with full copyrights permissions obtained from the Sports Today Magazine.