Deion Sanders’ dual recruiting style makes the CU Buffs look like the CU Bluffs
Colorado coach Deion Sanders looks on against Utah during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rob Gray)
CU Bluffs or CU Buffs? If Deion Sanders isn’t careful, Ralphie will become college football’s version of the Dallas Cowboys. Eighty percent hat, 20 percent cattle. Hated by half the country.
“There’s definitely reason to be concerned,” Brandon Hoffman, national recruiting editor at 247Sports, told me Monday.
For all of Coach Prime’s sins as a stretcher, strategist, personnel builder, closer, and pitchman? Nobody does it better.
“We already know what’s going to happen,” Sanders said after the 4-8 season ended with a dismal 23-17 loss to Utah. “You’ll be happy with what’s to come. I promise.”
What makes it even more curious is that the viral CU recruiting headlines over the past 48 hours haven’t been about who’s coming… but who’s going.
On Monday, the Buffs lost their highest-ranking QB commitment in the 24th class, Danny O’Neill. The day before, they lost their No. 1 signal-caller in ’25, Georgia’s four-star prospect Antwan Hill.
As of Nov. 1, the Buffs had three commitments from the ’25 class, including Hill. By noon on November 27, they had nothing.
There is something. Something other than Ryan Staub’s rating.
Context: O’Neal is Sean Lewis’ guy, the latest indication yet that CU’s title-only offensive coordinator is likely to follow Tim Brewster out the door, another victim of Pat Shurmur’s pencil-throwing baffling rise to power.
Lest we forget, Lewis left an FBS head coaching job — a tough one at Kent State, where he went to two bowls over five seasons — to come to Boulder in the first place. His name is being whispered in Big Ten circles as an offensive coordinator candidate for big boy jobs and as a potential head coach option for a middleweight division like Indiana.
Brewster, a former Broncos assistant, was CU’s trick king and the proudest and loudest of Prime’s early hires. Yelling for the Sanders family cameras was a stretch, but Brewster’s greatest value, besides his work with the Buffs’ tight ends, came in being the only CU coach around with any real local ties. Brough resigned last Sunday.
Sanders has brought up staff promotions, of course. Big names. Warren Sapp has been a frequent sounding board for the Buffs’ D this year. Byron Leftwich, another Folsom Field visitor, is being floated as a possible replacement for Lewis. In times of crisis, you rely heavily on your friends and what you know best.
Sanders knows some of the best people to ever play the game. He’s still struggling to get the best people ever Know Despite that. There is a difference.
College football has always been America’s golden hypocrisy, its beautiful lie. When you stress to an athletic director that it’s about education, he tells you that it’s about business. When you tell them it’s about work, they tell you it’s about education. Round and round it goes.
Sanders, who has the rare gift of being able to passionately stand on both sides of an issue at the same time, fits into this ecosystem perfectly.
“We’re not ATM. That’s not going to happen here,” Coach Prime said at the Champions Center last Tuesday. “If you come to CU to play football for me and the CU Buffaloes, it’s because you really want to play football and get a great education.
“And all the business stuff will be handled on the back end, if that’s the case. But we’re not an ATM. You don’t come here to get rich unless you actually come here with a plan to go to the NFL and get your degree. Don’t we come?” “Come here and be (rapper) Moneybagg Yo… we’re not going to buy anyone ever.”
But just a few days later, this was Sanders’ post-game monologue in Salt Lake City:
“We definitely need to give, you know what I mean? It’s unfortunate to say this, but some kids cost (money). It’s unfortunate to say this, and… I haven’t planned this yet, but I’ll ask for the numbers, but if I start thinking… In several of the best teams in the country, let’s see what is spent on assembling the teams.
“You know, we can sit around and talk about ‘great coaching’ and ‘great this’ and ‘great that’ all we want. But it’s going to be like a credit card swipe, in a way, with all these guys going to the (college football) playoffs; “Right? I understand that.”
CU Objectives: We don’t pay to play in Boulder, son!
With donors: 5-star recruits are expensive, so let’s see those credit cards!
So where does that money go?
No wonder recruiters are confused.
“Now that the season is over, quarterbacks have stopped committing, which may be a reason to believe the initial hype has died down,” Hoffman continued. “Now they really need to hunker down and sell their long-term vision.”
There is one? I mean, after Shadir’s eligibility expires? Or his back, who carried the team valiantly for three months, and then finally gave up?
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