The late Kobe Bryant once said, “Haters are a good problem to have. Nobody hates the good ones. They hate the great ones.”
That quote could apply directly to Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders, better known by his nicknames “Prime Time” or “Coach Prime,” given all the heat he has received since taking the Colorado job.
For Coach Prime and the Buffaloes, the season so far has already exceeded expectations in the eyes of many, but there are many who want to see him fail.
On Sept. 16, the No. 18 ranked Buffaloes defeated the Colorado State Rams 43-35 in double overtime in the 92nd meeting of the Rocky Mountain showdown. The Buffaloes moved to 3-0 on the season, and became the fourth team in college football history to start a season 3-0 after finishing the previous season 1-11 or worse. They joined the 1985 Indiana Hoosiers, 1999 South Carolina Gamecocks, and the 2008 Minnesota Golden Gophers in the feat.
The game aired late in the primetime slot at 7:30 p.m. on the West Coast. After being underdogs during their first game against TCU, and then being disrespected against Nebraska the following week, Colorado has taken on the “us against the world” mentality. The game definitely lived up to the hype, as all of the major sports television shows were on the campus before the rivalry game. The first quarter was a back and forth affair, with both teams scoring 14 points by the end of the quarter. Around the 4:30 mark of the first quarter, Colorado’s two-way star player Travis Hunter took a big hit from Colorado State defensive back Henry Blackburn, which resulted in Hunter leaving the game and being taken to the hospital. Although both teams didn’t have the same scoring output through the second and third quarter, Colorado managed to find their stride in the fourth quarter as well as both overtimes to take the victory.
Days before the game, the animosity between the two rival schools reached an all-time high after Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell took a direct shot at Sanders on his weekly radio show saying, “I don’t care if they hear this in Boulder. I told them [ESPN] — I took my hat off, and I took my glasses off. I said, “When I talk to grown-ups, I take my hat and my glasses off. That’s what my mother taught me.”
According to some analysts, there were two seemingly subliminal messages in this quote–the first being the ending where Norvell says, “When I talk to grown-ups, I take my hat and my glasses off. That’s what my mother taught me.” According to ESPN analyst Ryan Clark, Norvell was saying that Coach Prime’s mother didn’t raise him right.
The second message was about Coach Prime wearing a pair of sunglasses during his press conference. Sanders heard about Norvell’s comments, and a video was posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, of Sanders’ response to Norvell. In the video during one of Colorado’s practices, Sanders told his team, “I’m minding my own business, watching some film, trying to get ready. Trying to be the best coach I can be, and I look up and read some bull junk that they have said about us. Once again, why would you talk about us, when we don’t talk about nobody? All we do is go out here, work our butts off, and do our job on Saturday. But when they give us ammunition, they done messed around and made it personal. It was just gonna be a good game, but they done messed around and made it … PERSONAL.”
A day before the game, Coach Prime was a guest on ESPN’s First Take with Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, which was being broadcasted on the University of Colorado’s campus. Before Coach Prime’s appearance on the show, a video on X surfaced where Coach Prime gave his entire team sunglasses from his eyewear line with Blenders Eyewear. This was a comedic response to the glasses comments from Norvell, but it was also a financially rewarding payback. Coach Prime said that the company made $1.2 million dollars that same day. In total, Blenders eyewear made $4.5 million dollars in sales after the weekend of the game.
Folsom Field had an attendance of 53,141 people, which exceeded the maximum capacity of 50,183 the stadium could hold. The hype leading up to the game also led to record viewership. According to ESPN, the game registered 9.3 million viewers and had a peak viewership of 11.1 million. It was the fifth most watched college football game on record for any time slot. Fans tuned in to watch Coach Prime and Colorado even as the game ended late, around 2:30 a.m. EST.
Coach Prime has left his mark on Boulder, Colorado, similar to when he was the head coach at Jackson State University. Plenty of stars were in attendance for the game against the Rams, including actor The Rock, and rappers Key Glock, Offset and Master P. Lil Wayne performed as Sanders and the team made their way out of the tunnel before kickoff. During the broadcast, commentator Mark Jones, who is Black, equated the atmosphere of Folsom Field to the BET Awards because of the amount of Black celebrities on the sidelines, which rubbed plenty of Black people on X the wrong way. One user tweeted, “Crazy how when Black people, celebrities in particular, come out and support a Colorado game… they call it the BET awards smh wtf.”
This is just the latest example of “The Prime Effect.” The “Prime Effect” is Sanders’ ability to market his brand and change the course of a college football program for the better. We saw it at Jackson State, where he went 25-6 during his three years at the program, and we see that he’s doing it at Colorado so far.
When Coach Prime was hired as the head coach of the Buffaloes, the university sold out its season tickets for the first time in 27 years, which was only the ninth time in school history. After Colorado’s home opening win against Nebraska on Sept. 9, Coach Prime said that the home opener generated the city of Boulder $18 million. Colorado also became the top school with the highest average ticket prices this season, surpassing Ohio State. On Sept. 19, the Colorado University and Buffaloes Football Instagram pages posted that tickets for the remaining home games were sold out, making it the first time in school history that the school has sold out all of their general population tickets for their home games.
Days after the Colorado State game, Sanders sat down with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks to talk about Colorado football, coaching his two sons, Travis Hunter, and much more. During the interview, Rooks asked Coach Prime about the difference between “Deion and Coach Prime.” He went into detail on the personality of Deion, saying, “I don’t like crowds. I know how to show out in the crowd, but I don’t really like crowds.” He then detailed the creation of “Prime” saying, “Prime is that alter ego that we all have that I’ve just had the opportunity to enact to really put some legs on and make him work. I created this character in my dormitory room in Florida State. And I just fed him and fed him and fed him and fed him and perfected him.” Coach Prime has always been a showman ever since his days at Florida State. Some may call him arrogant and cocky, while others may call him confident, charismatic, and motivating.
It’s only three games into the college football season, but Coach Prime has made Colorado the hottest commodity in college football. There is plenty of people who want to see him fail because of his “flamboyant” personality, and many say that he wants all of the spotlight on him. After Colorado’s first win of the season against #17 TCU on Sept. 2, Coach Prime said in his postgame interview, “We told you we were coming. You thought we was playing. And guess what? We keep receipts.” It is safe to say that the receipts of all the doubters and haters are being kept.