A Warning for Coach Prime: What Goeth Before a Fall? – The American Spectator

Got your fill of Coach Prime yet?

If college football has had a face this season, it’s been the well-known mug of Deion Sanders, head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, albeit concealed behind reflective shades and hidden partially under a signature white cowboy hat.

But don’t call him “Deion,” or “Prime Time,” or “Neon” Deion, or any of the monickers he answered to during his spectacular playing career. This egomaniac — surely the biggest since Muhammad Ali — will cut you off quicker than a cornerback closing on a wobbly pass in the flat. He’s Coach Prime. Indeed, he wears the name Prime on his gear — it’s emblazoned on his fleece, on his jackets, on his shirts, on nearly everything he wears. Sports pundits call him Prime, but, then, so does everybody else. Now that his Buffaloes have started their season 3–0, Sanders has the sports world — not to mention the nets’ morning shows and even 60 Minutes — eating out of his hand.

The network pregame shows have been following him around like little puppies. Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff is taking a week off from its Prime obsession by traveling to Cincinnati this Saturday, in anticipation of the Cincinnati–Oklahoma game, after dutifully traipsing after Sanders the first three Saturdays of the season: first to Fort Worth for the season opener versus TCU; then to Boulder for the Nebraska game; and to Boulder once again for the Colorado State game. These are not so much pregame shows as they are pep rallies, as former stars and coaches slobber over Sanders and abandon to the mountain breezes any semblance of objectivity and fairness.

ESPN’s College GameDay showed up in Boulder last Saturday as well, and Sanders shuttled to both sets for triumphant appearances during the course of the morning. GameDay is a good, festive celebration of college football, with lots of laughing by panelists, even at “jokes” of dubious wit. But Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff, the new kid in the college pregame lineup, is a different animal, with uninhibited ex-stars even leading fans in pro-Colorado cheers. It makes GameDay look like Washington Week in Review. (RELATED: For Whom Does the Ball Roll?)

Sanders’ early success has blunted any and all criticism for his roster-building tactics in Boulder. Fresh off a 27–6 record at Jackson State, an HBCU college, Sanders announced his arrival to his new Colorado squad last year as follows:

We have a few positions already taken care of because I’m bringing my luggage with me, and it’s Louis [Vuitton]. I’m coming. It ain’t gonna be no more of the mess that these wonderful fans, the student body and some of your parents have put up with for probably two decades now. I’m coming, and when I get here, it’s gonna be change. So I want y’all to get ready to go ahead and jump in the portal and do whatever you’re gonna get because if more of you jump in, the more room you make.

Get good or get gone, Sanders told his team. Now, granted, the Buffs were 1–11 last year, one of the worst teams in the Power Five. He brought in a group of hand-picked skill-position players — including two sons and the top recruit in the country — and showed the door to dozens of scholarship players. A total of 71 have fled the program via entry into the transfer portal since Sanders’ arrival.

In one summer, the team has been totally made over. Apologists are lauding the overhaul as the way of the future, as a means of successfully employing the new transfer rules. But there are some sticklers, some old-schoolers who say the Sanders way is no way to run a program.

The coach of the Pitt Panthers, Pat Narduzzi, said this:

That’s not what the rule intended to be. It was not to overhaul your roster. We’ll see how it works out but that, to me, looks bad on college football coaches across the country. The reflection is on one guy right now but when you look at it overall — those kids that have moms and dads and brothers and sisters and goals in life — I don’t know how many of those 70 that left really wanted to leave or they were kicked in the butt to get out.

He continued:

When I got to Pitt back in 2015, I didn’t kick anybody off. Zero. Those are your guys. When you become a head coach you inherit that team and you coach that team. If someone wants to leave, that’s great. You don’t kick them out. I disagree with that whole process. That’s not why I got in the game.

For a man and a team reaping universal adulation, Coach Prime and his players have developed notoriously thin skin. When new Nebraska coach Matt Rhule opined, in the weakest possible terms, that he intends to build a moribund Cornhusker program in a more traditional manner, with less forced turnover, Buff players were quick to shout “disrespect.” The Cornhusker coach exacerbated sensitive Buff feelings when he met with his players in the middle of the Colorado field before their game with the Buffs, which was enough for one of Sanders’ sons, Shedeur, to take it “personal” that another coach would dare stand on the CU logo.

The coach of last week’s opponent, Jay Norvell, did seem to get personal. “When I talk to grown ups,” the Colorado State coach said, “I take my hat and glasses off” — a reference to Sanders’ typical on-air dishabille. “That’s what my mother taught me.”

Sanders capitalized on the comments, seeing a surge in sales of his signature “Prime 21” sunglasses, which sell for $67 a pair. Following Norvell’s comment, reportedly 70,000 pairs have been sold, bringing in over $4.5 million, for which the coach receives royalties.

Meanwhile, on the field, CSU offered surprising grit, bowing to the heavily favored Buffs in double overtime only after blowing an 11-point fourth-quarter lead.

Not a few football eyes will be tuning in to Buffs’ games in the next few weeks to see how the look-at-me coach and his talented but young program fares against more traditional powerhouses. Saturday CU travels to Eugene, Oregon, to face the 10th-ranked Ducks, while the next week they entertain the fifth-ranked USC Trojans in Boulder.

Read More: A Warning for Coach Prime: What Goeth Before a Fall? – The American Spectator