The Colorado football program is undergoing a pivotal team in program history. The Buffaloes look to make a massive improvement under the leadership of rising second-year head coach Deion Sanders. The program left the Pac-12 to start competition in the Big 12. However, rumors suggest the program had a lucrative incentive to join the conference.

The University of Colorado was reportedly offered a $2.5 million signing bonus from the Big 12 to depart the Pac-12, per Sports Business Journal (h/t Brett Schrotenboer of USA TODAY).

Three other teams who followed Colorado's path (Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State) reportedly did not get a bonus, per Big 12 Commission Brett Yormark.

“I’m not going to discuss my negotiating tactics, but listen, we were thrilled that Colorado was the first mover. Ultimately one got us four, you know, when you think about it. Whatever we did in those negotiations seemed to work out pretty well for us,” Yormark said, via USA Today.

By “throwing in” a $2.5 million bonus for the “first mover”, the conference hoped that other schools would follow suit, Yormark explained.

Furthermore, Yormark believes having Deion Sanders leading the Colorado football program in the Big 12 is good for the conference. Sanders is known to stir the pot and create buzz, but he has some of the most unique experiences of any coach in college football.

Sanders is an NFL legend and has coaching experience spanning from youth to the top tier Division programs. He joined the Buffaloes in 2023 after serving as a head coach for Jackson State. From 2020 to 2022, Sanders led the Tigers to two straight Celebration Bowl appearances and the program's first undefeated regular season in history. Sanders looks to help Colorado have newfound success in the future.

Colorado football braces for jump in 2024-25

The Buffaloes went 4-8 during the 2022-23 season, an underwhelming result yet still better than a year prior. Colorado recorded a 1-8 record in 2021-22, one year before Deion Sanders' arrival. Sanders brought a plethora of talent with him to Boulder and has continued to recruit to help the program have short and long-term success.

The 2024 offseason was filled with buzz due to Colorado's mass transfer exodus. The Buffaloes lost several offensive and defensive contributors, but they still retained a stout team, headlined by star quarterback Shedeur Sanders.

Sanders had respectable production during his first year with the Colorado football program. He amassed 3,230 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, and held a QBR of 63.1 in 2023-24.

In addition, Sanders' brother Shilo returns as a safety after totaling 54 solo tackles, four forced fumbles, one interception, and three passes defended.

Moreover, two-way star Travis Hunter will be back after missing a significant portion of the season with an injury. Hunter was a five-star recruit who committed to Jackson State but followed Deion Sanders to Colorado in 2023. It is unclear if Hunter will play as a receiver and defensive back like he did his freshman season. Regardless, his presence should help the Buffaloes make strides on both sides of the ball.

It will be interesting to see how Colorado handles the competitiveness of the 2024-25 season in their first Big 12 year.