The Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs came into Week 1 of the college football season ranked No. 17 in the nation just one year after reaching the national championship game.
They probably felt fairly confident about their chance to get their season off to a good start, since their first test was a Colorado Buffaloes squad that went 1-11 last year and had lost games by an average of 29.1 points. Add on the fact that 86 new transfers with little shared playing time were added to the roster via the transfer portal (a record), and they probably felt head coach Deion Sanders’ squad might not be ready for such a big test despite all the confidence he displayed.
Nothing was further than the truth.
Colorado was in full stampede mode on Saturday, as the unranked Buffaloes defeated the Horned Frogs 45-42 in a matchup that has a strong case to win the unofficial “Game of the Year” award. Sanders’ son, Shadeur, threw for a school record 510 yards and four touchdowns, and two-way star Travis Hunter had an interception and 11 receptions for 143 yards.
After the game, “Coach Prime” praised God for such a victory that sent shock waves through the sport and revitalized a program that hasn’t had much to cheer for in the past 15 years.
Coach Deion "Prime" Sanders in tears after Colorado upset TCU. The hype is real:— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) September 2, 2023
"Thank you Jesus! Look at my son man. I'm loving these kids. This is a blessing. Buff nation and all the hood that had my back. God is good!" pic.twitter.com/PgIhujW0fU
Not only did Sanders get a win in his Colorado coaching debut, he stayed grounded enough to thank God for the victory in the immediate aftermath. Stuff like this makes you want to root for him.
But Sanders quickly changed tone in the post-game press conference. After (justifiably) calling out the reporters in the room that doubted his roster rebuild could work, Sanders inserted a racial take into why people doubted Colorado could be successful.
Deion Sanders to the media:— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 2, 2023
"When you see a confident black man, sitting up in here, talking his talk, walking his his walk.. coaching 75% African Americans in the locker room. That’s kind of threatening."https://t.co/k81vI5cZaepic.twitter.com/T8MqkpjYch
“When you see a confident black man, sitting up there talking his talk, walking his walk, coaching 75% African Americans in the locker room, that’s kind of threatening,” Sanders said. “Oh, they don’t like that. Guess what? We gonna consistently do what we do, because I’m here and ain’t going nowhere. And I’m about to get comfortable in a minute.”
While Sanders was perfectly within his right to call out doubters, he made a grave mistake by saying people doubted his vision for the program because of the skin color of himself and his players.
The reasons why people doubted Sanders’ plan could work was because it had never been done before. No team has ever used the transfer portal to rebuild a roster as dramatically as Colorado, and on top of all that, the Buffaloes have had only two winning records since 2005. This was a program in dire straits that was using an unprecedented strategy to get back to relevancy, so the doubts didn’t have anything to do with ethnicity.
Furthermore, a highly black roster is frankly nothing unusual in college football. While the numbers may not be as high as Colorado's, if you look at any of the roster makeups for most of the elite programs in the country, you'll see that a large portion of the players on the teams are black. And no one is off put by Sanders’ confidence - he’s been a brash and outspoken individual for his whole life.
In all seriousness, Colorado’s story is one of the most unique developments in college football in quite some time, and many people support Sanders and the Buffaloes because of the feel-good nature of the story. But if Coach Prime keeps inserting these talking points in the narrative of his team’s success, he’s going to take the focus off many of the positives that will inevitably come from this season.
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