football Edit

Gorney: Coach Prime's excuses for not recruiting ring hollow

Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders (Bailey Kapels/Bailey Kapels Photography)

From the first day of taking the Colorado job, coach Deion Sanders has not employed a traditional approach.

The Hall of Famer who came to the Buffaloes after a few seasons at Jackson State basically encouraged the struggling Colorado players in his first meeting with them to hit the transfer portal, that he was bringing his Louis Vuitton – aka Shedeur Sanders, Travis Hunter and others – with him to Boulder.

That was certainly a unique tact.


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Taking the Colorado job in itself was something else for Sanders since the Buffaloes were not competitive at the end of coach Karl Dorrell’s reign. Colorado has had only one winning season since 2006 so it’s been a long, hard struggle there.

And now Sanders has employed a different tactic when it comes to recruiting: Hit the portal incredibly hard and use high school recruiting as something of a secondary option.

That has reflected in the recruiting rankings. While the Buffaloes have placed high in the Rivals transfer portal rankings the two cycles Sanders has been at Colorado, the Buffaloes dramatically dipped in the high school rankings in 2024. Dramatically dipped? How about plummeted.

In Sanders’ first class in 2023, the Buffaloes finished No. 31 overall, not great but certainly respectable, and Colorado ended with a bang by landing five-star cornerback Cormani McClain. But there have been rumors again this offseason that McClain could consider the portal during the spring window after issues adapting in Boulder.

The 2024 class was hardly efforted as five-star offensive tackle Jordan Seaton was a massive piece but there are only eight players total in the group and one, Omar White, has been dealing with serious legal issues. Colorado ranked No. 90 nationally, the only school in Power Five football to not sign in the double digits.


RELATED: Colorado wins 2023 transfer portal team rankings title



Jordan Seaton
Jordan Seaton

On Wednesday, Sanders took exception to a USA Today report that he hasn’t had one off-campus visit with any recruit. Not-a-one.

“My approach, it’s totally different than many coaches’ approach,” Sanders said. “I’m a business man as well so I try to save our university money every darn chance I get.

“Let’s just say I’m going to Florida and I’m visiting whatever school, IMG. You don’t think those coaches are going to be a little upset if I don’t go to the school down the street? You don’t think there’s going to be pandemonium, I’m going to get nay-sayed if I don’t go another 45 minutes?

“Then I went to that one, why didn’t I go to that school? Now, coach is mad so he’s not going to let the kid come because I chose to go to that school over that school. Other coaches can do that but I can’t.”



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First, cue the eye roll that Sanders is concerned with pinching pennies for the university. And this idea that Sanders cannot do what Nick Saban, the greatest to ever do it, did for years or back-to-back national champion coach Kirby Smart does every single day is preposterous.

Smart takes helicopters to go see kids (the prospects love it), he drives around the state of Georgia to hit basketball games (the prospects love it), he has fun events when the kids come to campus (the prospects love it), he competes in recruiting like he does on the field and – guess what – the kids love it.

That’s why all the five-stars go to Georgia and why the Bulldogs win everything.

The recruiting pitch of, 'Come to me, I’m not coming to you,' does not have a long shelf life. But Sanders said he took a personal survey about it.

“I really, truly in all my heart believe that parents don’t want me at their house, they want to come see my house,” Sanders said. “They want to see how I live, how I get down. They want to see what I got going on, what God has done in my life.

“I know when I was in college, I did not want Bobby Bowden in my house because I knew after 7 o’clock it was going to be rats and roaches on parade doing their thing. That never transpired, that never happened for me and we target mostly guys that are in the portal.

“When do you make visits to portal guys’ homes? Anybody do that? Do they do that? Have you guys heard of that? When a guy is in his 20s and he has one or two more shots he don’t give a darn about the picture, he don’t give a darn about the parade you want to take him on. He wants to know, ‘OK, how are you going to use me, how are you going to help me get to the league and what am I going to get paid?’

“That’s it. That’s the world we live in now. I never heard one guy say, ‘I chose this college because this coach came by my crib.’ It’s different now.”

Maybe the more things are different, the more they stay the same.

Of course, Sanders is wildly accomplished as a player at every level. He’s one of the best athletes to ever play the game.

But one has to ask if he understands at a deep level the world of recruiting, not landing one flash athlete like Hunter or having his very talented son play quarterback but how to build depth, how to build a roster. Not just accumulate talent and the grind it takes to win at the highest level.

Colorado’s 2024 schedule sets up nicely with a move to the Big 12 without Texas and Oklahoma. A big season could be ahead in Sanders’ second year partly because the path to winning is so much easier.

But this excuse that Sanders cannot go recruit IMG because some other schools in the area might get upset? Please. Or he can’t go to Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei and Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco because he wouldn’t want to ignore the other places? Yeah, right.

Like most things in life, recruiting success comes only with hard work. One can rely only on their name and reputation for so long – especially after going 4-8 in Season 1.

Saban is the best to ever do it and he was dancing the Cupid Shuffle to get recruits. Smart is the best recruiter out there not because he summons people to Athens but because he’s out on the pavement pressing the flesh. Former Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh coached in the Super Bowl and had, let’s say, unique recruiting tactics when he got to Ann Arbor. At least he tried.

“The parents, I love them and I want to show them Boulder,” Sanders said. “I want them to see this and how beautiful it is and why I’m so eager and how much I love this city and this state and this team.

“I want them to see that because guess what, that’s where the kid is coming. The kid is coming here. Going there is just showcase for me, that’s just blowing money, blowing a bag, don’t make sense. And I can’t do the other things coaches can do. You know why? I’m coach Prime.”

That’s not good enough.