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Deion Sanders On Transferring Players: Bye Losers

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MARCH 30: Former NFL player and Colorado Buffalos head coach Deion Sanders looks on prior to a game between the Arlington Renegades and Birmingham Stallions at Choctaw Stadium on March 30, 2024 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Sam Hodde/UFL/Getty Images)
Sam Hodde/UFL/Getty Images

The Colorado Buffaloes, who went 4-8 in their final Pac-12 campaign last season, are a program built on and through the transfer portal. When Deion Sanders was hired in Dec. 2022, he brought his sons Shilo and Shedeur over with him from Jackson State, and he spent his first address to his team telling a room full of Colorado players to fuck off so he could bring in better guys. The program turned over almost completely, with dozens of players leaving and dozens of new ones coming in to take their place. That unprecedented level of tumult ultimately delivered one conference win and a last-place finish. In what will surely be an annual tradition of sorts, Sanders is now doing it all over again.

After 12 players entered the transfer portal during the winter window, 14 more put their names in this week when the spring portal opened on Apr. 16. The tally includes five-star cornerback Cormani McClain, former AAC rookie of the year Alton McCaskill, and a few others who logged real time for the Buffs last season. Another way to describe them, as Sanders put it on Thursday, is a bunch of losers. When asked about McClain specifically, Sanders said, "I want that kid to soar. I want him to man up."

"We're good. I trust the recruiting team. I trust our coaches, and please have some faith in me," Sanders said of the exodus. When reporters asked about it, he said, "I wish you guys do a little more homework when you start talking about the portal and understand what we're losing," implying that everyone who left was a useless scrub. He challenged the reporting corps to name something good about the outgoing Buffaloes players, and when someone pointed out the loss of potential starters, a defiant Sanders snorted, "You haven't been watching practice, huh?" Sanders, of course, does not let reporters watch practice. "Quit making a big deal out of nothing," he concluded, of 26 players leaving Colorado.

This is a pretty neat, 100-second summary of The Sanders Administration at Colorado. Deion Sanders is as much a Brand Ambassador as he is a head coach, and the brand he's selling is centered around being bulletproof and brash, an affected ruggedness that doesn't square with anything his team has ever done on the field. Telling departing players that they suck and are not wanted is part of reinforcing a message of toughness, which is clearly somewhat effective in bringing in transfers. For all the departures, Sanders and Co. keep restocking in the portal.

But one wonders how effective of a long-term strategy that is, especially since his sons/recruiting coordinators won't be there forever and Colorado is always managing some sort of mass exodus. They lost a bunch of key 2023 recruits, and their 2024 recruiting class is currently ranked 95th in the nation, right between Boston College and Texas State. Cutting promos is cool, but so is winning multiple conference games in a season. One is easier than the other.

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