April 22, 2023



 Deion "Coach Prime" Sanders post-game


BOULDER -- Deion Sanders was ready and pumped to lead the Colorado Buffaloes on the field.

He wanted to get it right.


 "I just asked, 'Aren't I supposed to go out after Ralphie?'" he recalled later Saturday afternoon in a packed media room at Folsom Field. "They said, 'Ralphie isn’t running today.'"


Caution amid the potentially icy and dangerous conditions -- for both Ralphie and her handlers -- was the right move, but was one of the few snags at an otherwise remarkable spring game. 


"You guys have had a sick day," Sanders said. "Ralphie needs one too.” 


The announced crowd was 47,277 for a "game" that traditionally draws only the heartiest of the hearty fans, even in short-sleeve weather. That was a sellout of the available seats, given that "premium" seats were spoken for at other previouly scheduled functions, including two high school proms Saturday night.


The overnight snow -- a "wet" snow, mind you, that didn't affect most roads -- left the field blanketed. The most heroic feat of the day was a single cart-type snow plow driver taking about two hours to clear it off ... just in time.


ESPN carried the proceedings live, another huge boost for the program both in general and also as the second transfer portal decision period approaches. 


“I was amazed," Sanders said of the atmosphere. "I didn't know that it would be like that. It was unbelievable. It was one of those moments that you will never forget. It was one of those moments to behold like you had to be there. So just lining up in the tunnel, getting ready, and feeling it, our song comes on. And here we go. And we're running out there. Even with the weather, it was unbelievable. I'm always thinking way down the street. So (about) recruiting, I'm thinking, 'OK, national TV show and snow (in the) spring. That's not good.’ People use it to recruit against us. But with the fan base and everybody that was there, I'm pretty sure they say, 'Hey, man, this is all right, then it's gonna be 50 tomorrow’'.  


That's as Colorado as are the Flatirons.  


On the field, the Buffs clearly will be an upgrade in the fall, even if only because Deoin's son, Shedeur Sanders, is the real deal at quarterback and one-time superstar cornerback recruit Travis Hunter is showing he won't miss a beat and likely will play both wide receiver and cornerback after following both Sanders -- Deion and Shedeur -- from Jackson State to CU. 



 Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter 


The other transfers in the first portal period were a major net improvement, too.


But this isn't going to be for everyone, and Sanders' seemingly disdainful attitude about the talent -- and even the conditional recruits -- he inherited from the Karl Dorrell program has been less than artful at times.






Sure, to a point, but the departures -- both recent and upcoming -- will include some decent players who could have helped in the transition, yet were effectively culled or at least made to feel as if they weren't wanted. Or, for that matter, didn't feel as if they fit in. 


And now, the additional transfer activity -- both ways -- upcoming will be remindful that what we saw on Saturday was a long way from what we'll see in the 2023 season. Yes, the Buffs are coming off a dreadful 1-11 season and major reconstruction was necessary, but even under the new standards in the revolutionized college game, it can't and won't be an immediate turnaround. 


UPDATE: On Wednesday, April 26, four days after the spring game, Brian Howell of the Daily Camera reported that 39 Colorado  players had entered the portal since the second declaration period began on Apil 15, including 26 since the spring game. The deadline to enter the portal is Saturday. It should be noted that names can be withdrawn from the portal, and CU undoubtedly will land more transfers 


“I didn’t kick them out, they walked out,'' Sanders said Saturday of the departures. "We’ve got to make some decisions. That's gonna be on me now. That was on them; now it’s on me. Anytime someone quits a few days before the spring game, that should tell you a lot. God bless them though. The thing about it is I have no disdain. They called me to speak on their behalf for a coach, I would do so, I'm not going to lie, but I will do so. So, God bless them. We don't look behind us. We look ahead.”


 Sanders was the right hire, especially in these times, and in the right place. The Buffs program was about to go, or already had gone, over a cliff. As recently as two years ago, I'm not so sure it would have been a fit. That was before the revolution. In the social-media, increasingly inside self-coverage, NIL, transfer-portal turnover, and star-power age, he fits.


His most underplayed strength in this transition is that he is an adept and inspirational CEO who was able to bring in a remarkable and even overqualified coaching staff. That's at or near the top of the list of his most impressive recruiting jobs so far.        


 What I'm about to say is not meant to be "negative." At some point, the honeymoon period will at least taper off as reality sets in. It might seem a reach to call him "Coach Prime" on every reference. The media coverage will become less fawning. His discomfort with what was a reasonably mild snowfall was a reminder that this former NFL and MLB star who has seen foul weather coast to coast still is a Floridian at heart who at some point might get restless. 

But so far, so good. If you can live with his ruthlessness. Because, after all, he was brought in to win and save the program. 



Clearing the field was a one-man, one-cart job. This 

is how it looked two and  half hours before the game. 



And this is how it looked later, with the driver finishing his

work in the north end zone, top left. 



The weather didn't scare off many -- if any -- fans 



Terry Frei's web site





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