The Colorado Buffaloes football team has been the hottest story in all of college football over the last three weeks. And really, even before that. It all started back in December of last year when Deion Sanders left HBCU school Jackson State, his first collegiate head coaching job, for the Colorado football team. But did it end with Colorado's loss to Oregon?
Deion has been Deion — there's no one like him. If anyone had ever followed him, they knew who and what he was all about. It's just that Deion has now brought it to the college level of football instead of the NFL or even in baseball within the MLB as he did previously. The flashy, cocky, outspoken Sanders upset an established order by doing things the way he's always done them — his way. So, it's no surprise that from the moment he took the Colorado football job no matter what his teams' perception was prior – even if there wasn't a complete roster transformation overhaul — it now was embroidered and certified as “Prime”.
That embroidered stamp came with not just a flashy logo but with a bullseye. Every team the Buffaloes were set to face from here on out as long as Sanders is on the sideline is going to be targeted because, simply put: they weren't them. It happened for four straight weeks, including the 42-6 thumping Colorado took from Dan Lanning and the Oregon Ducks on Saturday.
Games like the one Colorado took on against Oregon football are likely to receive pointed fingers. So, who do we blame for the Buffaloes' first loss?
Deion Sanders is to blame
The only reason Colorado football is in the position it is in is because of Deion Sanders. That can't be argued. When no one believed that his team was capable of winning more than the projected 3.5 wins (per ESPN), Sanders, of course, took offense to that. But who could believe that a team that won one game last season could accomplish more than that? Sure, the roster was totally different from a season ago but instilling everything from competition, depth, continuity, and maybe most importantly, a culture, was going to be a significant challenge that couldn't be completely overhauled in year one.
But there Sanders was, standing on the sideline in a white hoodie in the middle of hot and humid Texas heat on a noon Saturday kickoff to face TCU in the Week 1 opener, ready to prove the world wrong. And he did. Three hours later, he was still standing, but this time with a 1-0 record. And Sanders let everybody know it, too. He told them he kept receipts from all those that doubted him and his team, and said, “We comin'.”
The branding of Colorado football has completely changed now because of one man. But where Sanders gets praise, he also has to equally accept the criticism. He put his team — the one which he constructed by his own two hands — in position to win, no doubt, by ways that have yet to be fully accepted, yet totally legal within NCAA rules. But he also put a massive target on them as long as he is their head coach. And that's fine as long as the team has the means to take on that sort of challenge. Right now, Colorado doesn't, at least not with the more talented teams like Oregon football.
But this all goes back to the brand that is Deion Sanders. He has to be “Prime” to make this thing work. That's the gimmick, and he lives it from the sideline during the game to the press conference afterward and anywhere in between. That's what makes him different than all other coaches — and that's what he wants. So, yes, Sanders is without blame in their loss against Oregon. In fact, he has to be the blame. But believe it or not, that's okay. It just won't seem that way right now.
Colorado football was beaten by better talent
It was clear from the opening kickoff that this was two separate teams on Saturday, with one being out for blood (Oregon) to prove this hype train from Boulder, CO was all talk. Both Colorado lines were gashed all evening, leaving Shedeur Sanders on the ground all day, while receivers were wide open on the other side for the Ducks. There's an obvious talent gap, whether Sanders admits it or not. That should be expected, though.
Sanders would never admit it, but this team just isn't where he or any of the rest of us who jumped on the hype train want it to be right now. They're still talented and head and shoulders above last year's team and some of those before it. Even Sanders himself admitted that this is the worst they are going to be. Of course, he may be referring to the Oregon game singularly and not this season as a whole. But this season as a whole can garner more losses like this, including this upcoming weekend against USC.
The mystery is now gone for Colorado football
I've spoken about this just before Colorado's game against TCU, that the biggest advantage Sanders and the Buffaloes had going into this season was the mystery that surrounded their team. TCU head coach Sonny Dykes basically admitted as much just weeks before their game, noting that there was no reason to go off any tape as this year's Colorado football team was completely different in nearly every facet.
Therefore, it was no surprise that Colorado was able to pull the upset against TCU in Week 1. There are other factors, sure, but no one knew what this would be or how they would play under Sanders. Now, as each week has passed, teams are getting more and more film, seeing the weaknesses in the Buffaloes football team.
That should have been apparent by the Colorado State game, when the Rams controlled most of the game, and then eventually took their rival into double-overtime before the Buffaloes snuck out with a victory.