Will Deion Sanders make CU’s weekend? Or break Buffs hearts?
Deion Sanders still has a game to coach. Who’s ready for the most-watched SWAC football championship in Colorado history?
Sanders, the Pro Football Hall of Famer and football coach at Jackson State, is expected to decide his coaching future after leading the Tigers (11-0) against Southern (7-4) in the SWAC title game at 2 p.m. Denver time Saturday at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Which means the eyes of Boulder are upon you, Jackson, Miss.
And the hearts. And the hopes.
Multiple sources close to the situation confirmed to The Denver Post that Sanders is mulling a multi-year contract offer to become the new football coach at CU — but had not yet formally accepted the position as of Friday afternoon.
Sources said Sanders wanted to defer any formal decision until after the SWAC championship, a decision Buffs officials have honored.
The 55-year-old Sanders, one of the greatest professional athletes of his generation, has been phenomenally successful as a first-time college head coach at Jackson State, posting a 26-5 record over three seasons with the Tigers, 22-2 (16-0 in conference games) since the fall of 2021.
CU and Sanders have been in talks for a while now, multiple sources confirmed to The Post. The two-time Super Bowl champ became the No. 1 target, sources indicated, over a pool of candidates that included former BYU/Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall; former Texas/Houston coach Tom Herman; and current Illinois defensive coordinator and Buffs alum Ryan Walters.
All of which leads to one primary question for CU faithful over the weekend:
Can the Buffs close the deal for Coach Prime?
Sanders told local media Monday that he’s received other coaching offers besides what was presented by CU. He’s expected to announce a decision by Sunday, at the latest.
Several reports have linked Sanders with three FBS-level vacancies: the Buffs; Cincinnati, which joins the Big 12 next season; and South Florida, the only high-profile college football opening in Sanders’ home state.
Multiple sources indicated that the Buffs have set an internal deadline for a new coach to be introduced to the players by Monday. That day is also when the transfer portal officially opens as part of a mandated 45-day window that runs through Jan. 18, 2023.
Those sources also indicated that CU does have another candidate in mind should Sanders have a change of heart.
Whenever the new coach is introduced, multiple sources have indicated, CU is also expected to present him with revised guidelines regarding athletic department transfers, although university officials have declined to comment as to what changes might be coming.
CU regents have scheduled a “tentative” special board meeting for next Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Buffs athletic department officials expect that a contract for the new football coach could well be a part of that meeting’s agenda.
Despite having no firm recruiting or career ties to Colorado, Sanders emerged as CU’s top target because of his performance at Jackson State, his track record on the recruiting trail and his ability to generate community buzz via traditional channels and social media.
The Tigers had gone six seasons without a winning season (2014-2019) prior to Coach Prime’s arrival. Last December, Sanders got the nation’s top recruit, Georgia cornerback Travis Hunter, to flip from Florida State to Jackson State. The Jackson (Miss.) Convention & Visitors Bureau reported late last year that the Tigers’ football revival nearly doubled its financial impact on the city, bringing in a reported $30 million in 2021 compared to $16 million in 2019, which took place pre-Sanders and pre-pandemic.
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