When Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders first took over the football program, one of the first messages he sent to players was to transfer. As he made the jump Jackson State of the SWAC, Sanders planned to completely overhaul the roster.
The 55-year-old coach wanted to make sweeping changes to the program. From 2020-’22 under Karl Dorrell and Mike Sanford, Colorado went 9-21 with only seven conference wins. It led to the athletic department going in an unconventional direction, hiring Sanders after just three seasons at Jackson State.
- Deion Sanders coaching record: 27-6
Related: 2023 college football rankings
Sanders created headlines in December when he arrived in Colorado and immediately told a room full of young athletes on scholarships that many of them should enter the transfer portal. In his words, he was ‘bringing my luggage’ with me and planned to aggressively pursue better players than those currently on the Buffaloes’ roster.
In the months since his arrival, there is a massive exodus in Colorado that has resulted to a significant percentage of the roster from last season voluntarily leaving the team.
According to ESPN, 57 Colorado players have entered the transfer portal this offseason. The Buffaloes’ athletic department even acknowledged it’s unprecedented scale of departures, even in an era when transfers are far more common
Despite losing a large number of athletes on scholarship, either by voluntary decision or Sanders’ decision to release them, Colorado athletic director Rick George made it clear the university remains behind Sanders’ plan.
“I have confidence in him and his staff and they know what they’re doing. He’s been very honest and forthright. He’s been very open about it publicly and privately. He’s trying to build a winner at Colorado, and this is his way to do it.”Colorado Buffaloes AD Rick George on 57 players entering transfer portal since Deion Sanders took over
While the Buffaloes’ roster lost more than 50 players, Sanders is also bringing in talent. Colorado ranks No. 1 in 247 Sports’ transfer rankings, pulling in former five-star recruits like Travis Hunter and young standouts like Shedeur Sanders, Seydou Traore, Alton McCaskill and Demouy Kennedy.
The mass exodus of former players also hasn’t had any influence on fan support. Attendance for the 2023 Colorado Buffaloes spring game was among the best in the nation, with more than 47,000 people showing up to watch Sanders coach his first spring game.
With the fans and athletic department backing him, Sanders is well-positioned to build the program his way at Colorado. Only time will tell if his approach works, but he’s earned the opportunity to prove himself.