Leading up to Deion Sanders' regular season debut as the head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes football program, the offseason has been far from news-free (or drama-free) for him and his squad.
When Sanders came over from Jackson State, he completely flipped the one-win team from 2022 and changed the program dramatically. For example, there are just 10 scholarship players from last season and 68 incoming players (yes, 68) via the transfer portal.
This past Friday, Sanders further explained why he made his decisions.
"It was tremendously tough because you had some young men that just didn't want to play the game," Sanders told FOX News. "They didn't love football. It's hard for me to be effective if you don't love it, if you don't like it, if you don't want to live it. That's tough."
In college sports, a rule allows first-year head coaches to cut players so long as the university still honors the scholarship. This is a rule that, following the spring game, Sanders ran with quite hard.
"That's tremendously tough when you're looking at a body of just dead eyes. That's tough on any coach, not just me," Sanders said. "I'm pretty sure a multitude of coaches have experienced that until they could clean house and get the roster they want. It was tremendously challenging day by day. I'm happy with what I see every morning now. I really am."
Of course, when Sanders took over, several players naturally wanted to leave. They entered the transfer portal, which made him and his staff's jobs that much easier. Still, there were more heavy-handed elements, such as Sanders saying that nothing would be given to anyone.
Sanders is unorthodox, and his coaching colleagues have spoken out against his methods.
One example is Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi. "That's not the way it's meant to be," Narduzzi said at the ACC meetings in May. "That's not what the (transfer portal) rule intended to be. It was not to overhaul your roster. We'll see how it works out but that, to me, looks bad on college football coaches across the country."
"The reflection is on one guy right now but when you look at it overall — those kids that have moms and dads and brothers and sisters and goals in life — I don't know how many of those 70 that left really wanted to leave or they were kicked in the butt to get out."
Narduzzi didn't stop there. He believes Sanders will regret his decisions.
"I think he'll be shocked that he probably had some pretty good football players in that room," Narduzzi said. "When I got to Pitt back in 2015, I didn't kick anybody off. Zero. Those are your guys. When you become a head coach you inherit that team, and you coach that team. If someone wants to leave, that's great. You don't kick them out. I disagree with that whole process. That's not why I got in the game."
With all that being said, what matters is how the Buffaloes program performs.
If they play well this year, Sanders wins. If they don't, the naysayers win. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of gray area here, so we'll have to wait and see.
The Buffaloes' season kicks off Sept. 2 at noon ET on the road against the championship runners-up from last year, the TCU Horned Frogs.
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