Coach Prime delivers pizzazz to college football’s wasteland

Dec 4, 2022, 3:03 AM | Updated: 5:09 pm
Deion Sanders speaks after being introduced as the new head NCAA college football coach at Colorado...

Deion Sanders speaks after being introduced as the new head NCAA college football coach at Colorado during a news conference Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

              Deion Sanders speaks after being introduced as the new head football coach at the University of Colorado during a news conference Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. Sanders left Jackson State University after three seasons at the helm of the school's football team. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Deion Sanders, front, is welcomed to the podium by Colorado atheltic director Rick George after introducing Sanders as the new head football coach at the University of Colorado during a news conference Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. Sanders left Jackson State University after three seasons at the helm of the school's football team. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Deion Sanders speaks after being introduced as the new head football coach at the University of Colorado during a news conference Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. Sanders left Jackson State University after three seasons at the helm of the school's football team. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Colorado athletic director Rick George introduces Deion Sanders as the new head football coach at the University of Colorado during a news conference Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. Sanders left Jackson State University after three seasons at the helm of the school's football team. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Deion Sanders speaks after being introduced as the new head NCAA college football coach at Colorado during a news conference Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Deion Sanders, center, uses his mobile telephone to illustrate how Rick George, right, Colorado athletic director, kept in touch while courting Sanders to become the new head football coach at Colorado during a news conference Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. Colorado chancellor Phil DeStefano, left, looks on. Sanders left Jackson State University after three seasons at the helm of the school's football team. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Deion Sanders speaks after being introduced as the new head NCAA college football coach at Colorado during a news conference Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Part politician, part preacher and part pitchman, Deion Sanders fired up a crowd of alumni, boosters, former players and other VIPs celebrating his hire as Colorado’s coach on Sunday.

He spewed motivational sayings that he promised will soon adorn the walls inside the complex at Folsom Field and he vowed to lead the bedraggled Buffaloes back to prominence after going 27-5 in three seasons at Jackson State.

“I have the best coaching staff assembled, some of the best scouts, some of the best kids that we’re recruiting, some already coming on the way as I speak,” Sanders told the crowd of hundreds who whooped and hollered at his answers from among the dozens of reporters at his introductory news conference.

“And now that I’ve gotten here, I see it, and understand it, and I can grasp it and I can touch it, I can feel it, I can taste it,” Sanders added. “I truly understand what you want — all you want is the opportunity to win. To compete. To dominate. To be amongst the elite. To be amongst the best.

“And darn it, I’m gonna give you that.”

But first, he reminded everyone, “I have work to finish in Jackson, Mississippi.”

Sanders said he will coach the unbeaten Tigers in the Celebration Bowl, the championship for historically Black college football programs, on Dec. 17

Then he can turn his attention entirely to resuscitating the Buffaloes.

“Simultaneously, like I played baseball and football, I can multitask and I can focus,” assured Sanders, the former NFL and major league superstar and the only athlete ever to play in both the Super Bowl and the World Series.

“This is my job and my occupation and my business and my dream to bring you back to where you know you should belong,” Sanders said.

A person with knowledge of Sanders’ contract told The Associated Press that it’s worth $29.5 million plus incentives over five years beginning at $5.5 million in the first year. Yearly incentives include $150,000 for six wins and $100,000 for each win after six, $150,000 for a bowl berth and $200,000 for a New Year’s Six bowl invitation.

If he wins a national title like CU did under coach Bill McCartney following the 1990 season, Sanders would get an extra $750,000.

Sanders is already assembling his staff, scouting the transfer portal and reaching out to five-star high school recruits to help him fix a program that has just one winning full-length season since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.

At one point, Sanders asked his son, Shedeur Sanders, to stand up.

“This is your quarterback,” he told the audience, which replied with one of its biggest cheers.

A couple of recent developments will help Sanders lure the top-level athletes that are expected to cascade onto campus.

The school recently launched a collective for donations that will create a pool of money so that Colorado can compete with its conference rivals in name, image and likeness deals.

The university also relaxed its rules regarding transfer credits, a move that will allow Sanders to compete with established football powerhouses across the country.

“A game changer,” marveled former Buffaloes and NFL standout tight end Daniel Graham. “Now, we’re on an equal playing field with all the rest of the universities. So now we’ll be able to get some big-time transfers in here.”

Sanders met with his players after Jackson State defeated Southern 43-24 in the Southwest Athletic Conference championship Saturday night to tell them he was taking the Colorado job.

Then, he flew to Boulder and toured the football facilities and picturesque campus stadium. He walked onto the field despite a throbbing left foot; Sanders had two toes amputated last year due to blood clots.

“This is a wonderful situation. This city is un-darn-believable,” Sanders said.

CU fans are anticipating a quick turnaround under Sanders much like Southern California’s U-turn from 4-8 last year to 11-2 this season under first-year coach Lincoln Riley.

Sanders provided a promise but not a timeline.

“It may not happen as quick as you may desire it to, but it’s going to happen,” Sanders said. “We’re gonna win. It’s going to happen. I’m not going put a timetable on it, but it’s gonna happen.”

Sanders brings a mix of old-school discipline and newfangled edge as he’s transitioned from “Prime Time” as one of the best dual-sport professional athletes ever to “Coach Prime.”

“Sometimes I may look like an old fool but I’m just old school,” he said. “Guys, after we get finished with this work, I just want you to know we’re on the way. Not to compete, but to win. Not to show up, but to show out. Not to be among the rest but to be the absolute best. We’re coming into work. We’re not coming to play. We’re coming to kill, not to kick it.

“Baby, got to believe that we’re coming. You’ve got to feel that energy inside of you that we’re coming,” Sanders continued like a preacher at the pulpit. “When you get in that stadium, you got to get in early because by time of the kickoff, baby we’re coming. You understand it? Do you feel that? Do you understand the intensity, the excitement, the adrenaline, the rush that I got right now, that I can’t wait for this thing to kick off because we are coming.”

Sanders may be seen as the savior but he said it was he who was humbled.

“Boulder, Colorado, you have no idea what you blessed me with, the opportunity that you give me and I feel like I owe you,” he said. “So every day I’m going to work for you. I’m gonna strain for you. I’m gonna develop for you. I’m gonna commit for you. I’m gonna do the things that others wouldn’t do.

“Baby, we’re coming. So anybody asked you something about, ‘When is he coming back?’ You say, ‘I don’t know, but I know he’s coming.'”

___

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/mrxhe6f2

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, left, looks for room against New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbe...
Associated Press

Mavs star Doncic injures heel on fall, out against Pelicans

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic has been ruled out of a game against New Orleans after exiting in the third quarter with a right heel injury. Doncic stayed in the game after taking a hard fall Thursday night when he was winding up for a one-handed dunk on a drive and Brandon […]
20 hours ago
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley plays against Memphis Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama (7) du...
Associated Press

Garland scores 32 points, Cavaliers beat Grizzlies 128-113

CLEVELAND (AP) — Darius Garland scored 32 points shortly after being left off the All-Star team and carried Cleveland following Donovan Mitchell’s ejection, leading the Cavaliers to a 128-113 victory over the slumping Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night. Garland was one of several players having All-Star-caliber seasons not named an Eastern Conference reserve by the […]
20 hours ago
New York Knicks' RJ Barrett, left, defends Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler during the first half of an NB...
Associated Press

Barrett scores 30, helps Knicks hold off Heat 106-104

NEW YORK (AP) — RJ Barrett rebounded from a late-game benching with 30 points, Isaiah Hartenstein made big plays on both ends of the floor in the final minute and the New York Knicks beat the Miami Heat 106-104 on Thursday night. New York pulled out the victory after Erik Spoelstra correctly challenged a call […]
20 hours ago
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) drives on Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield (24) during ...
Associated Press

James closes in on scoring record, Lakers rally past Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — LeBron James had 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and pulled within 63 points of becoming the NBA’s career scoring champ as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied to beat the Indiana Pacers 112-111 on Thursday night. James gave Los Angeles its first lead on a 3-pointer with 2:35 left in the […]
20 hours ago
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, right, shoots against Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon ...
Associated Press

Cavs All-Star Mitchell ejected after tussle with Grizzlies

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell was ejected in the third quarter Thursday night against Memphis for throwing the ball at Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks after the players tangled under the basket. Brooks was called for a flagrant-2 foul and was also tossed following the fracas with 5:48 left and the Cavs […]
20 hours ago
Hank Lebioda, second from right, waits to putt on the 18th green of the Monterey Peninsula Country ...
Associated Press

Lebioda leads on a day of ever-changing conditions at Pebble

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Changes in weather and fortunes can happen without notice in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which seems to suit Hank Lebioda just fine these days. Playing his sixth different course in his last six rounds on the PGA Tour, Lebioda ran off six birdies in an eight-hole stretch for an […]
20 hours ago
Coach Prime delivers pizzazz to college football’s wasteland