Like him or not, watching ‘Coach Prime’ at Colorado will be fascinating

Deion Sanders?

Not a fan.

That’s just me. Too flashy. Too many videographers following him around. Too philosophical in the press conferences. Too many boxes checked when it comes to things I don’t like in a football coach.

And the name. Coach Prime? Too much self-promotion for my taste. Please, just coach ball. Spare the flash and dash. But that’s just me, I guess.

But, I’m not a Coach Prime hater, either.

When it comes to getting athletes to come to Jackson State and the on-field results with those athletes, you cannot argue with the success he has had over the past three years, and the way he has elevated the program. 

Sanders went 26-5 (83.4 percent) in his first three seasons at JSU, besting the beginning three years long ago by legendary Grambling State University coach Eddie Robinson (29-10, 74.3 percent). 

If you think I’m about to tell you Deion Sanders is the next coming of Eddie Robinson, let me assure you – I’m not. 

When Jackson State hired Sanders as head coach, I thought it would be a complete circus…and it has been, to a certain extent, but not in the way I anticipated. You see, I didn’t count on people packing into Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium to watch the Tigers play. 

Prime gets credit for that.

And, I certainly did not expect ESPN’s College GameDay to bring its road show to Jackson, Miss., but they did. 

Again, props to Sanders. 

A rising tide lifts all boats, and the Sanders Sunami at Jackson State has certainly elevated the game for all HBCUs.

So why the angst and gnashing of teeth when he left JSU, where he was making in the neighborhood of $300,000, and landed at Colorado, where he will make upwards of $4,500,000 annually?

Sanders has been called a sellout. 

Was it because he said God told him to go to Jackson State? And that God told him to leave?

Maybe it was the other HBCUs who didn’t like the praise Sanders received for upping the HBCU ante?

Whatever the reason, the “I told you he wasn’t SWAC” crowd, many of whom have been anti-Coach Prime from Day One, couldn’t get their Tweets out fast enough when Sanders announced his departure on Dec. 4. 

It didn’t take the former NFL All-Pro cornerback long to make a splash in Boulder. Sanders became the first coach in college football history to name the starting quarterback – his son – at the opening presser.

“There’s your quarterback,” Sanders said, pointing to his son, Shedur. “He’s going to have to earn it, of course.”

Of course.

You just thought your son’s all-star travel ball coach played “daddy ball?”

Then there was the meeting with the current – kinda – Colorado players. I throw in the word “kinda” because their new head coach invited them to leave. Sanders encouraged them to hit the transfer portal because he was bringing his own “luggage…and it’s Louis.” 

I’m sure that Prime … Sanders … whatever you want to call him, cares about his players, and is a players’ coach. I’m also sure that he could have handled his introductory team meeting with more tact. More respect for the group of young men who have represented the University of Colorado – despite how bad the Buffaloes have been.  

But, that’s Deion. His drummer has a different beat. Now give him his theme music!

On the field, I’m not sure how Sanders is on the X’s and O’s. What I do know is that he has done a helluva job in attracting coaches to his staff. At Jackson State, he somehow convinced a successful former NFL head coach – Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer – to join the staff, and work for free. 

He won’t have any coaches in Boulder working for free as the University of Colorado has reportedly given Sanders a pool of $5,000,000 in which to hire his assistant coaches. Like Sanders’ salary, it’s the most money available for assistant coaches in school history.

In the days since being hired at Colorado, Sanders has shown the ability to bring in a quality staff, starting with Sean Lewis, the former head coach at Kent State, who left his previous employer to be the offensive coordinator in Boulder. 

With his ability to attract coaches and the financial resources he has been given, I think he will be successful. It won’t happen overnight – or will it? Time – and Sanders’ ability to mine the transfer portal – will tell.

Contact Jerry at sbjjerrybyrd@gmail.com