This might just work, but it’s not gonna work here.
That was the consensus when the TCU search committee, looking to find a replacement for Gary Patterson, ended the phone call with job candidate Deion Sanders.
A little less than two years after Patterson “resigned,” Sanders will come to Fort Worth as a Power Five head coach against the guy who beat him out for a job he wanted.
The Great Deion Sanders Experiment begins on Saturday when the Buffaloes play TCU in Fort Worth at 11 a.m.
Regardless of what happens this season and beyond, TCU hiring Sonny Dykes over the rest of the field will forever be the right decision. He led TCU to a playoff win, and a trip to the national title game.
Colorado did what TCU would not, when the Buffs hired Sanders in December of 2022.
Deion Sanders as the head coach at Colorado will be one of the most interesting stories to follow over these next few seasons, because it might just work. Or, the University of Colorado could be some form of Prime Prep Academy 2.0.
Deion The TCU Candidate
Almost immediately after Patterson “resigned” on Oct. 31, 2022, TCU’s search committee assembled a list of potential candidates.
The priority was the SMU head coach, Dykes, but the list of potential candidates included Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, and first-year Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders.
Before he accepted the head coaching job at FCS Jackson State, in Sept. of 2020, he had no major, or even minor, coaching experience.
From a coaching standpoint, he had served as the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill; coincidentally, that’s the school where Sanders’ son, current CU quarterback Shedeur Sanders, played, and was easily the best player on the field.
What Deion was/is is a brand unlike few others in sports. He was a Hall of Famer cornerback, and Ali-level talker in front of a camera. Even if you hate him, Deion has a Trump-like ability to command an audience.
Deion is quick. He’s smart. He’s petty. He’s raw. He’s insecure. He’s mean. He’s funny. He’s shameless. He’s compassionate, and selflessly-selfish. He’s sincere, but lies through his sunglasses. He’s the smarmy know-it-all.
Deion’s former colleagues at the NFL Network were both amazed, and annoyed, at the man’s ability to steal an entire show even though he may have done so much as 0.3 seconds of prep work.
He’s a gifted motor mouth who fearlessly embraced self-promotion long before the advent of influencers, YouTubers and IG models.
From a visibility standpoint, Jackson State was wise to try.
Sanders’ pitch to entice players to come to Jackson was the “Let’s keep this in house” thereby strengthening not only JSU but HBCUs, and the entire African American community.
It was noble, and he did have an Eddie Robinson-like impact.
Sanders attracted Power Five level talent to Jackson, Miss., where the Tigers were winners, and the Sonic Boom echoed all over the nation. National media outlets came to Jackson, including 60 Minutes, and ESPN hosted its College GameDay there in October last year.
When TCU reached out to Deion, administrators were only too sure they would hear the “Prime Time” act that comes with unabashed, tone-deaf arrogance.
What they heard on the conference call was someone who had done his homework about TCU. About its roster. Its facilities. Its athletic department.
That was in the fall of 2021, and it was apparent that while what he was doing at Jackson State improved the university, it was all done in an effort to leave and never look back.
TCU was impressed with Deion, but the decision-makers didn’t feel they could justify such a bold swing on a coach whose resume was so short. Some influential boosters made it known they wanted no part of Sanders as the TCU head coach.
Because to hire Prime Time meant TCU would have to acknowledge Prime Prep.
Deion’s Prime Prep Wreck
When Deion told 60 Minutes last fall, “I gotta win in every facet of life; that’s our natural odor. We don’t even use cologne,” he wisely forgot to mention his first dip into the world of education, which smelled worse than a locker room.
In 2012, Sanders opened The Prime Prep Academy, a charter school, K-12, with campuses in Fort Worth and Dallas.
In a word: Fiasco.
Lawsuits, accusations of bullying, assault, crushing debt, secret recordings all the while the school itself failed the students.
A secret recording of a conversation between Sanders and the school’s co-founder, D.L. Wallace, featured a portion where Sanders said, “I’m going to get more money, or there ain’t going to be no school, that’s just flat out how it’s going to be.”
Two-and-a-half years after the school opened, Prime Prep Academy closed.
The students who attended, including former TCU men’s basketball player Kaviar Shepherd, nearly all faced obstacles in getting their transcripts cleared to attend college. Not because they couldn’t do the work, but because Prime Prep was a disaster.
DeMarcus Peterson attended Prime Prep before the school closed. In December of 2020, when he was on the track and field team at Texas Southern University, he told The Washington Post, “It’s good to say I played for (Sanders). I was an athlete for him at his school.
“But when you look at it, it’s just kind of a huge fallacy.”
Will Coach Sanders win?
The University of Colorado has played football since 1902, and in its history the only guy who achieved great success was head coach Bill McCartney.
Colorado is now on its eighth different full-time head coach since McCartney retired after the 1994 season. Even when you dissect McCartney’s tenure in Boulder, the greatness lasted six years.
For whatever the reason, CU has repeatedly proven to be a career-killer.
The school had to do something bold, and it hired the strongest cup of coffee on earth.
As a school administrator, Deion was a tragedy. As a football coach, so far, he’s been the winner he tells the world he is.
Colorado didn’t hire Deion to do anything other than win games, and generate revenue.
Deion gutted the roster in a way unseen before in major college football; the roster has 86 new players, 53 of which are transfers, including two of his sons (Shilo is a projected starter at defensive back; Shedeur, the starting quarterback), as well former top overall recruit, defensive back Travis Hunter.
Deion has continued his Amazon Prime series, where everything he does is captured for a reality TV show. Former Dallas Morning News reporter Jean-Jacques Taylor will soon release his new book on Deion’s final year at Jackson State.
There is more curiosity about Colorado football in more than 25 years, and it’s all because of a head coach who has all of three seasons on his resume.
Not sure if this will work, but it will be impossible to ignore.