Take a bow, Rick George. Deion Sanders just made CU Buffs football must-watch TV again.


BOULDER — Take a bow, Rick George. What do you do when you’ve got a completely unwatchable football team? You bring in somebody the camera’s loved for nearly four decades. Somebody the camera wouldn’t dare ignore.

“The hardest thing is having your close friends call you and say, ‘What’s happening?’” Nancy George, wife of the CU athletic director, told me with a sly grin Sunday. “And then having to lie.”

The truth is out there now. And it’s spectacular. Deion Sanders, the Buffs’ improbable and hypnotic new football coach, had a crowd of roughly 400 at the Dal Ward Athletic Center practically eating out of his hand Sunday afternoon.

“I was more interested in him than the opportunity because he was going to tell me about the opportunity eventually,” Sanders said of George’s attempts to woo the Pro Football Hall-of-Famer from Jackson State to Boulder.

“And he’s slick, too. He is slick. Gosh. (I’m) getting ready to go play a darned game and I check my phone and it’s a picture of this beautiful stadium. (George had texted), ‘Just checking with you, go have a good game.’ Man!

“Next week, (he writes), ‘Snow is on the field, but it’s gonna melt within an hour. Send you a picture then.’ He was very strategic and profound.”

Sanders looked for Nancy in the audience.

“I see why you guys have been together (so long). He’s good. He’s good. You’re good, man. So it was very strategic.”

The Sanders gambit was strategic, too. Even if Sanders can’t get the 1-11 Buffs off the launch pad, every local, regional and national network is going to ship crews to Boulder to try and document at least some of the run-up to the final countdown.

As a front porch, CU football just went from flyover material to fly. And the Pac-12 has another star coach it can pitch to network bean-counters as leagues scrap for broadcast dollars.

“When this process started, he was always somebody that was in my mind,” George told me. “Then we met, and we really developed a bond … he has a plan. He knows where he’s going. And he knows how he’s gonna get there.”

Sanders showed George his coaching manual, detailing how he was going to shape a Power 5 program in his own image, right down to the last crevice.

Which leads to a couple questions: For one, how thick is that book? And two, is there any chance someone can ship Nathaniel Hackett a copy before it’s too late?

“This will be the last guy (for me),” George said, vowing that he won’t hire another coach for CU, whether Coach Prime rocks or crashes hard. “There will be nobody else.”

To be fair, whomever comes next is going to have an awfully hard act to follow. At 55, Sanders might’ve lost a few steps off the reported 4.27-ish 40-yard dash he put up at the 1989 NFL scouting combine. But he’s lost none of the stage presence, charm, quick wit or showmanship.

Coach Prime worked the Touchdown Club like the best Sunday preacher on the planet. After a half-hour, the hardest of CU football hearts, regents included, looked as if they’d seen the light. Even the Buffs’ infamous transfer portal peccadilloes, chancellor Phil DiStefano promised, could soon be a thing of the past.

“Oh, yeah, we talked about the portal,” George told me later. “I don’t think (Sanders) said, ‘This is what I want done.’ But he wanted to know that we had a plan that he could utilize to help him keep his team together.”

Coach Prime isn’t scared of cameras. Or straight talk. A documentary crew is already capturing his early moments here. Even the uncomfortable ones.


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