September 2, 2023
As I drove to Fort Collins and Canvas Stadium Saturday afternoon, I listened on KOA radio to the final stages of the
Colorado Buffaloes' stunning 45-42 win over TCU.
So I'll start with this: No, I hadn't seen it coming, either.
I didn't think the Buffs
would knock off the No. 17 team in the country in Deion Sanders' first game since taking over the program.
Is that not believing?
However, I was among
those who believed going in that CU would play the Horned Frogs tougher than expected, which in this era means covering the
generous point spread.
Sanders' frenetic and ruthless makeover of the roster was a spectacular
success for at least one game. The most important longer-term significance was that the depth of gamebreaking talent on display
-- including Shedeur Sanders, Dylan Edwards, Travis Hunter, Xavier Weaver, Jimmy Horn Jr., and a surprisingly dominant offensive
line -- provided evidence this wasn't a one-time lightning strike.
I get the Us Against the World (or Nobody Believes) motivational
gambit. I've witnessed, heard it and covered it about 25,000 times over the years, from the NFL and NBA to small-classification
high school football. Most, and pehaps all, coaches who summon or cite it deserve to be put on mute. It's tiresome, unoriginal
and even insulting. However, young players buy into it as if their coach is the first to bring it up.
In this instance, Deion Sanders' post-game exchange with ESPN's
Ed Werder, pressing Werder about whether he "believed," was both silly and unfortunate. This was why this was the lead on every sportscast and site in the country. It was that unexpected, that amazing,
that shocking. Many didn't seem to understand the context: the highly respected Werder, a onetime Broncos beat writer for
the Boulder Daily Camera, covered the Cowboys -- with Sanders -- for the Dallas Morning News. There's a
On Saturday, what had been such a mega-hyped, all-in transformation of a program became even more than that.
Plus, despite some eyebrows raised because of what arguably
was the unprecedented ruthlessness of the turnover, Coach Sanders has gotten mostly fawning fanalist -- not journalist --
coverage from Colorado media since his arrival. At times, in fact, it has been almost embarrassing. If he had gotten the TCU
job, rather than Sonny Dykes, I doubt the coverage in the Metroplex --
where he played for the Cowboys, of course -- would have been as gushing.
Wait. I'm nitpicking about one of
the biggest stories in recent college football -- a story that could become even more than that if the showing against TCU
is a true harbinger. The landcape and rules have changed since I was with The Sporting News and periodically checked
in with Nick Saban, a young head coach, over the course of his first year at Michigan State and wrote a narrative piece to represent an example of a program in transition. This is very different.
Patience in a gradual rebuild over four or five years is an unaffordable tactic.
I do believe that.