The I-5 thoughts after Week 3: A peek behind the glasses as Colorado looms
Five thoughts as the Ducks, Beavers and Vikings ready for conference play.
We made it. The real football is here. Here are five thoughts as the Ducks, Beavers and Vikings ready for conference play.
1. Coach Prime and the high-wire act
Of all the things No. 19 Colorado coach Deion Sanders has said in the last week, a little peek behind the glasses after the Buffaloes’ 43-35 victory over Colorado State Saturday night was the most intriguing.
“Truthfully, at one point in the game I said, ‘We can’t let this dude (Jay Norvell) win,’” Sanders said. “The press conference is going to be unbearable if we let this dude win.”
There’s two ways to take that:
1. Do you really want your head coach worried about the postgame press conference in the middle of a double-overtime battle against a rival?
And had Colorado lost, you could have added that to a list of factors that maybe-kinda-sorta-could-have contributed to a potential lack of focus against a 23.5-point underdog. It’s not everyday that Dwayne Johnson is roaming the sidelines in Boulder. Then again, as Colorado struggled with a Mountain West opponent, the Buffaloes, like Hollywood, seemed to learn you can’t just attach The Rock to a project these days and expect knockout results.
Whether he can coach/run a program at this level, the show of Coach Prime is a circus — so much so that I’ve been told that Oregon is planning on at least doubling the size of its visiting postgame media tent for Saturday’s act in Eugene. Sanders is the biggest thing in sports right now. It’s partially because Colorado’s 3-0 start is a legitimate story. It’s partially because of an opportunistic national sports media that knows how to milk everything out of a storyline. And it’s partially because no coach in college football has ever put himself out there like Sanders. He invites cameras, speaks his mind and has so far this week tried to sell America insurance, pizzas and almonds through various commercials.
He may not have started the war of words with Colorado State’s Jay Norvell, a man whose own foot I’d be concerned about if he carried, but Sanders certainly knew what he was doing, and the show it would produce, when he decided to talk about “making things personal.”
And yes, that would have been one hell of a press conference had they lost.
2. They didn’t, though. And I’ve found that there’s something admirable in Sanders acknowledging the tight rope he’s walking. Sanders has been in the spotlight longer than many of us have been alive. He knows the way narratives work, how the only thing louder than the way up is the blow up. Colorado can afford a loss — remember, the Buffaloes won a lone game in 2022 — and that will likely come this week against an Oregon team that’s been built by six consecutive top-16 overall recruiting classes. But if/when Colorado suffers an embarrassing loss, if/when dissension comes to that locker room, if/when shit first hits the fan, there has never been a longer line up of people waiting to cash their receipts.
College football is hard. Ask Mark Helfrich. Ask Lane Kiffin and Chip Kelly. Ask Nick Saban, whose 71-year-old ears have to be picking up some of those whispers after Alabama’s 2-1 start. It’s going to be hard for Sanders at some point, too. Still, he presses on while a program that hasn’t been relevant since Sanders was a rookie with the Atlanta Falcons cashes in on his high-wire act.