A complete timeline of Colorado’s tumultuous offseason

Sports

Moments after Colorado‘s once-promising season sputtered to a close with a 23-17 loss at Utah in November, coach Deion Sanders took about a minute to reflect on some of the positives his team showed in the game.

Even with his son, star quarterback Shedeur Sanders, sidelined with an injury, he said the Buffs played well. But he also wasted no time turning the page. After a last-place Pac-12 finish in his debut season at Colorado, it made no sense to dwell on the team’s on-field performance.

“It’s time to start projecting and start thinking about the tomorrow already,” Sanders said.

With that, Sanders got back to doing what he has proved effective at: generating hype.

“We already know what’s going to transpire, you’re gonna be pleased with what’s coming. I promise you that,” Sanders said. “But everything you see that we have a lack thereof — a deficit — we’re gonna fill that need.”

As he did when he arrived, Sanders made it clear Colorado was, again, going to seek help in the transfer portal in the pursuit of one clear goal.

“We want to win now.”

Here’s a look at some of the most noteworthy moments of Colorado’s offseason as Coach Prime’s tenure remains one of the most captivating stories in all of sports.

Dec. 5, 2023: When Sanders arrived in Colorado the previous year, he was a bona fide celebrity — one of the greatest athletes in American history — taking the reins at a downtrodden program. He leaned heavily into making Colorado as visible as possible. Everything, it seemed, was on camera.

But after a whole year of that constant visibility, it seemed to become a dynamic that wasn’t always positive, he told People magazine.

“You always wish that you had a little more privacy,” he said, “but the same thing that makes you shine will show your blemishes.

“So you’ve got to take the good with the bad. You can’t just want everyone there when the hype machine is rolling, you have to understand there’s another side to this.”


Dec. 20: As Deion alluded to in the Utah news conference, Colorado had glaring holes it needed to fill and almost immediately took steps to shore up a porous offensive line that allowed Shedeur to become one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the country. Colorado welcomed 20 new players in the early transfer window, including six offensive linemen: OT Kahlil Benson (Indiana), OG Justin Mayers (UTEP), C Yakiri Walker (UConn), OG Tyler Johnson (Houston), OT Phillip Houston (FIU) and five-star high school OT Jordan Seaton.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Sanders said, “All these kids have been starters. They’re not backups. They weren’t lower-level players. They were starters in Power 5. And they know darn well they’ve got a first-round pick — maybe the first kid in the whole draft — that they’re protecting. That means something to them.”


Dec. 30: Shortly after getting through the early signing day, staff changes started. Defensive coordinator Charles Kelly left the program to serve as the co-defensive coordinator at Auburn, his alma mater, leaving Sanders with neither of his initial coordinators in his second season. OC Sean Lewis, who was stripped of playcalling duties during the season, was hired as San Diego State‘s head coach.


Jan. 16: A little more than a year after Coach Prime delivered the famous line at his team meeting — “I’m bringing my luggage with me, and it’s Louis” — some of that proverbial luggage (his sons, Shilo and Shedeur) walked in an actual Louis Vuitton fashion show during Paris Men’s Fashion Week.


Jan. 27: Not even two weeks later, a video was published by Well Off Media — the YouTube channel operated by the oldest Sanders son, Deion Jr. — with a headline: DEION SANDERS’ SONS ARE BUYING HIM A NEW HOME IN COLORADO. It shows the family touring an exquisite property outside of Golden, Colorado, roughly 18 miles from Folsom Field.

Four months later, however, that property is still listed for sale by the listing agent.


Feb. 3: Professor Prime? At least for a day. Sanders served as a guest lecturer to talk about the football program’s social media strategy, among other topics, alongside Deion Jr. — known better as Bucky — for a class called Prime Time: Public Performance and Leadership.


Feb. 9: Former Cincinnati Bengals secondary coach Robert Livingston was hired as the defensive coordinator and Pat Shurmur, who took over playcalling duties from Lewis, was confirmed as the permanent OC. Colorado also announced Phil Loadholt as the OL coach and Jason Phillips as the receivers coach.


Feb. 20: Smack in the middle of a recruiting dead period, Sanders was announced as an owner of the sports nutrition company REDCON1.

In a news release announcing the deal, the company said, “Coach Prime will drive REDCON1’s expansion directly, especially within the sports nutrition and performance beverage sectors. His creativity and expertise are derived from his personal experiences and success in sports, which will play a pivotal role in continued product innovation and enhancing the brand’s visibility.”


March 12: Sanders’ second book, “Elevate and Dominate: 21 Ways to Win on and off the Field,” written with Don Yaeger — was released as an instant New York Times bestseller. It was accompanied by a four-stop book tour.


April 1: Months after Sanders said it was going to happen, Hall of Fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp joined the program as a graduate assistant. Athletic director Rick George signed off on the hire, which drew criticism in light of Sapp’s his arrest for allegedly assaulting and soliciting a prostitute during Super Bowl weekend in 2015, after which he was fired by the NFL Network.

“Warren Sapp successfully completed all of the necessary steps required of anyone who is employed at CU Boulder, including a background check,” Colorado said in a statement. “Furthermore, athletic director Rick George personally met with Warren to clearly articulate the department’s standards and expectations, to which he acknowledged and agreed.”


April 10: Well Off Media took fans behind the scenes as Shedeur attended an in-person lecture for the first time.

During the video he jokingly said, “You know how long it’s been since I’ve been to an in-person class? Like five years.”


April 16: When the spring transfer portal window opened, several prominent players announced they would be leaving Colorado, including former five-star recruit Cormani McClain, lead rusher Dylan Edwards and two other backs, Alton McCaskill and Sy’veon Wilkerson.


April 20: On his YouTube channel, McClain took a pointed shot at the Colorado program.

“Some people just gotta take a step back from things sometimes, certain people, you know,” McClain said. “I feel like I just don’t want to play for clicks. I actually want to be involved with a great leading program that’s going to develop players.”

He would later transfer to Florida.


April 27: Colorado fans set a high bar when they sold out Folsom Field for the 2023 spring game, and while this year’s version wasn’t quite the spectacle, it still drew a respectable crowd of 28,424 despite inclement weather. The game was part of a day that later featured a Lil Wayne concert.


May 1: After a story in The Athletic was published that detailed how former Buffaloes players fared after many were run off following the arrival of Sanders, a series of back-and-forth trash talk ensued, including tweets from Shedeur and Deion.

Deion Sanders took aim at one relatively anonymous FCS player from Austin Peay.

He later told Thee Pregame Show, “I gotta do better on that and not ride with it, but I was bored. I was bored, and I didn’t say nothing hurtful. I don’t attack people.”


May 8: As Shedeur preps for an important final season of college football in which he’s in the conversation to be one of the first quarterbacks taken in next spring’s NFL draft, he also found time to drop his first song, “Perfect Timing.”


May 16: Two-way star Travis Hunter was revealed as one of the three cover stars, alongside Michigan‘s Donovan Edwards and TexasQuinn Ewers, for the rebirth of EA Sports College Football 25.


May 20: The Coach Prime effect continues to pay off for Colorado’s ticket department. For the second straight year, the Buffs have sold out their season tickets, something the school had not done since 1996. And prior to 2023, the school had never sold out its season tickets before August.

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