Deion Sanders has taken the college football world by storm this season in his first year as head coach at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The 56-year-old’s stock as a head coach has likely never been higher, and now, it seems like he’s starting to get on the radars of some folks around the NFL. A belief seems to be forming that he will receive interview requests this coming offseason.
“The Athletic polled 10 high-ranking team decision-makers to gauge the league’s opinion on Sanders, and seven of them predicted Sanders would receive interview requests for the offseason head-coaching hiring cycle,” wrote The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. “The other three didn’t rule it out but believed it was too early to make a prediction.”
Sanders overhauled Colorado’s roster this past offseason, adding dozens of players via the transfer portal while losing many members of the 2022 team, which went 1-11 before he arrived.
The transfer portal has become a controversial topic in college sports, and Sanders’ use of it this past offseason certainly ruffled some feathers. However, some seem to believe that his use of the portal may indicate an ability to be successful in NFL free agency.
“Sanders has an obvious ability to relate to his players, and there’s a belief that his success in the transfer portal would carry over into NFL free agency,” wrote Howe. “He has also proved he can generate a spotlight his players appreciate, and Sanders has done an interesting job of manifesting motivation through different types of adversity, self-created or otherwise.”
College coaches transitioning to the NFL haven’t always enjoyed success at the highest level. That may not be a concern when it comes to Sanders, however, in part because he played in the NFL years ago.
“And though there have been some prolific college coaches who have failed spectacularly at the NFL level, the executives believed Sanders shouldn’t be lumped in with that group,” wrote Howe. “That’s because Sanders has played in the NFL at the highest level and should understand how to get the most out of players because he’ll understand what they need to be at their best. Generally speaking, past college-to-NFL failures happened because those coaches believed they could work with professionals identically as they did with student-athletes, and that’s been a disastrous recipe.”
Colorado is 3-0 this season and ranked No. 19 nationally. The Buffaloes don’t exactly have an easy schedule ahead, as they still need to face several ranked teams over the remainder of the season.
But it’s a safe bet that they’re up for the challenge, and the more they win, the more expectations will shift for Sanders and his squad. Colorado was expected by many to have a losing record this season, but now, a bowl appearance and perhaps even a ranked finish are goals that have entered the equation.
Meanwhile, folks are speculating about Sanders’ future and if he could land in the NFL.
“I love the energy he creates, and his players respond to it,” an NFL general manager told The Athletic. “I would think you have to at least sit down and talk with him. He’s a leader, smart, a great marketer and has the (credibility) as a player and now adding to it as a coach.”
For what it’s worth, some do believe that college football is Sanders’ best fit.
“I just think Deion can dominate for an extended time in college,” the general manager said. “He’ll have to deal with parity in the NFL. He might not have the same impact (in the NFL that) he has in college because he will be limited in how many guys he can bring in and attract because of the cap and draft.”
Colorado is perhaps the biggest story in college football right now, and the next question is whether or not the team will maintain its success all year long. Doubters are starting to turn into believers, but Sanders is likely aware that his squad’s toughest battles are still ahead.
It’s worth noting that he recently claimed he would never leave Colorado for the NFL.
“I would never do that,” he told Rich Eisen.
But plans can always change, and as his stock continues to rise, there will likely be more buzz connecting him to other opportunities.
Colorado will be in action this weekend to take on the University of Oregon on the road in a ranked matchup. A win would give the Buffaloes even more momentum as they look to establish themselves as legitimate threats to win some hardware this season.