Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Big news in college football broke this week when NFL legend and now former Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders left the Tigers for the Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday. Sander's three seasons at Jackson State were impressive, leading the Tigers to a 27-5 record during that span, leading them to an undefeated 12-0 season this year, and to the SWAC(Southwestern Athletic Conference) title Saturday on a 43-21 win over the Southern Jaguars.
During his introductory press conference Monday, Sanders expressed his burning desire to revitalize a Buffaloes program that finished dead last in the Pac-12 this season with a tumultuous 1-11 record with these statements:
“Now that I’ve gotten here and I see and I can understand it and I can grasp it, and I can feel it and I can touch it and I can taste it. I truly understand what you want. All you want is an opportunity to win. To compete, to dominate. To be among the elite, to be among the best. And darn it, I’m gonna give you that.”
“We’re not here to compete but to win. Not to show up but to show out. Not to be among the rest but to be the absolute best. We’re coming to work, not to play. We’re coming to kill, not to kick it. Baby, I got to believe that we’re coming.”
Sanders is coming in with massive expectations to turn the Colorado program around the same way he did at Jackson State after receiving a lucrative contract that, if approved, will see Sanders receive $29.5 million over five years that excludes any bonuses or incentives. Talk about primetime pay for “Mr. Prime” himself!
Sanders, 55, would be slated to earn $5.5 million in his first season with an initial payment of $500,000, which will be supplemented by $1.75 million used for radio, television, and public appearances, and an additional $1.75 million going toward promotions and fundraising; there will also be another $1.5 million for student-athlete development.
The Buffaloes were desperate for a new leading voice after firing head coach Karl Dorrell after a 0-5 start to the season and eventually replacing him with interim head coach Mike Sandford.
Despite a remunerative contract, if Sanders were to leave Colorado prematurely before his contract expired there would be some penalties invoked upon his income. If he were to leave after one year with the program, Sanders would owe the school $15 million in liquidated dangers. That amount decreases to $10 million if he were to depart after the second year of his contract; $8 million after the third; and $5 million for both the fourth and final years.
The penalty goes not only for Sanders if he were to breach his contract, but for Colorado as well, as they would owe Sanders 75% of the remaining duration of his contract in base and supplemental pay if they were to buy him out.
Sanders will have a plethora of incentives available for him to increase his potential income and some of these include
• $750,000 if CU wins the national championship
• $450,000 if CU is invited to a “New Year’s 6” bowl game
• $150,000 if CU wins six games in a season
• $150,000 if CU wins the Pac-12
• $150,000 if CU is invited to a non-“New Year’s 6” bowl game
• $150,000 if Sanders is named National Coach of the Year
• $100,000 for each additional win after six games
Sanders will have a huge task ahead of him as he will be looked upon to transform the Buffaloes into a championship contender and lead them to their first winning season since 2016 once they hit the field next fall.
Sanders was so confident he even told the players in his press conference to hit the transfer portal as soon as they can, stating:
“It ain’t gonna be no more of a mess that these wonderful fans, the student body, and some of your parents have put up with for probably two decades now. I’m coming, and when I get here, it’s gonna be changed,” Sanders told a room full of Colorado players. “So I want y’all to get ready to go ahead and jump in the portal and do whatever you’re gonna get because if more of you jump in, the more room you make.”
Sanders made it clear that his son. Shadeur Sanders, who is the current quarterback at Jackson State, will be starting for the Buffalos next season. Shadeur has been incredible this season, throwing for 3,383 yards on a 70.2 completion percentage and just six interceptions. His son is not only a passing threat but has shown to be a capable dual threat as well by rushing for 174 yards and five touchdowns this season.
The addition and news of Colorado hiring Sanders has already gotten them a blue-chip recruit in 2025 five-star wide receiver Winston Watkins Jr. who currently stands at 5-10, 172-pound receiver and is the No.13 ranked player in the 2025 class currently.
Sanders is an audacious, contagious, vibrant, and blunt personality who has the will of a bulldog and will tell you how it is without sugarcoating it. That is exactly what a program like the Colorado Buffalos needs to turn around their program after such a horrid season.
Can he turn around the Buffalos program as he did at Jackson State? Only time will tell. But one thing for sure is, don’t count Deion out. Sanders will coach the Tigers against the North Carolina Central Eagles in the Celebration Bowl on Dec.17.