November 21, 2023


 When the Buffs were 2-0 and one of the top national sports stories: Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter during the ESPN crew's visit to Boulder, on the day before the Rocky Mountain Showdown.



Yes, it's still true that under Deion Sanders, the 2023 Colorado Buffaloes at least are improved over last year, especially financially after selling out every home game.


That's the consensus, reflex defense of the Buffaloes' struggles after a 3-0 start not only made Sanders and CU one of the most-watched -- quite literally --  programs in college football. It also raised hopes that the Buffs would be more than merely competitive and perhaps be bowl-eligible in "Coach Prime's" post-housecleaning and transitional first season.


They're 4-7 heading into Saturday's finale at Utah and, at 1-7, are sitting in last place in the Pac-12.


That's at least better than the 1-11 disaster of 2022.   


That's also orange slices by now. 


Unless you completely buy into that TCU, Nebraska, Colorado State and Arizona State -- the four teams CU beat -- were soft, and that sufficiently explains it, the alarming aspect of the season narrative is that Sanders' first team got worse as the season progressed, not better.   


"We didn't accomplish what we wanted," Sanders said at his Tuesday news conference. "We accomplished what we needed. I think hope is instilled in this city, in the student body, within this team, within this building. And you see the direction that we're headed."     


With all the offseason turnover, including the arrival of a long list of graduate transfers and others from the portal, the challenge for the Buffs was to coalesce as the season went on.


The Buffs fell apart instead. At least going into the final game, that's the state of affairs. 


It's not ripping Sanders to point that out. 


Sanders advanced what he labeled the theme of the week and brought up what he seemed to portray as an air-clearing meeting.


"We've got to finish," he said. "I want to finish with an exclamation mark. I don't want to finish with a comma, a run-along sentence ... These guys practiced their butts off today, I didn't see no quit in them. I didn't see, 'Poor, little old me.' We had a tremendoous meeting this morning and kind of got some stuff out that has been kinda in-house. I'm not one to walk away from whatever was said. Let's say it. Let's say it in front of  all of us now. Let's get it over with, who said what, why'd he say it, why he felt like that. Let's do this. That happened this morning and it was tremendous. I love it, 100 percent of it."          


The biggest issue indeed is the offensive line, but citing the number of times Shedeur Sanders has been sacked as the grading standard is oversimplication. One of the best quarterbacks in the country often has held the ball too long in trying to make plays, and the number of sacks reflects that. 


Moving forward, it's also clear Sanders also has to deal with coaching staff dysfunction -- a surprising development given that he seemed to have assembled a first-rate, accomplished staff.


Offensive coordinator Sean Lewis' effective demotion, giving way to Pat Shurmur as the playcaller, creates significant awkwardness as the Shurmur calls come through Lewis on the sideline. That almost certainly foreshadows more changes in the offseason. 


On Saturday, perhaps, we'll get confirmation if the 2023 Buffs as a team have or haven't quit on Sanders.


Then the issue becomes if the horrible late-season slide arrests the CU momentum on all fronts -- especially recruiting, where NIL has changed the picture so drastically.


"We want players  that want us," Sanders said. "Trying to convince somebody in doing that and being held hostage financially, we ain't with that. We want players that want to be a Colorado Buffalo and come here for all the right reasons. Academically. The city is so durned beautiful. Just people who want to be a part of what we're building. We're not going to buy anybody whatsoever. That's how we approach it. We have tremendous needs. I'm pretty sure everybody in the country knows what we need and how much we need. That's not a secret. The recruits are responding. Trust me. There's not a day that goes by that kids arent blowing our recruitiing staff up. Or blowing Shedeur up in his DMs, or Travis (Hunter), or some of the key players on the team. They're calling and we're responding. 


"Last season, you had to fill the void of everything. This year, you're more directed. You know what you have. You know what you don't have. You've seen how we react under pressure. You've seen how we don't. You know what you need. So now it's more focused on let's go fill the need. You had to just fill the kitchen up for Old Mother Hubbard. Went to the cupboard and there wasn't nothing there. So we had to fill the kitchen up with everything. Now, it's more directed and more accurate on, 'OK, we need three of those, two of those, we need one of those.' That's pretty much how you're going at it. We know what we want and we're going to go get it. I promise you that. We didn't do certainly what we wanted to do. But we're doing tremendously much more than what was done [before]. You have to put it into perspective. . . We're taking a step in the right direction. Two steps in the right direction, as a matter of fact."

Sanders alluded to the Buffs' eye-popping television numbers and the attention they drew, especially early in the season.


 "We pretty much put a mark in college football," he said. "And what we're going to do from here on, it will never be the same. I promise you that. I know how we're recruiting. . . You gotta be crazy if you don't see it. It's easy to look at us play and say, 'OK, all they need is that, that, that ... and that.' How many times have have you said that? But see, when I say it, you get a little attitude ... You can say it, but I can't. Because you're sensitive. You want to treat grown men like they're babies. We don't do that aound here. We call it like it is. We say what's the truth."    


On the field next season, the bar will be raised.


The built-in excuses will be  mostly gone.   


Deion Sanders' full Tuesday news conference

Terry Frei's web site





Bob Bell's Mile Hi Property 


Big Bill's New York Pizza

8243 S. Holly Street

Centennial CO 80122

(303) 741-9245


Big Bill's Big Heart


JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer Foundation