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Colorado Buffaloes introduce Deion Sanders as head football coach

NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders is leaving Jackson State to become Colorado's fourth coach in five years.

BOULDER, Colo. — The Colorado Buffaloes are getting an early Prime delivery just in time for Christmas.

College Football and NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders has been named the program's newest head coach. "Coach Prime" becomes the Buffs' fourth head coach in five seasons.

Chancellor Philip DiStefano said in a letter to students and staff that Sanders has agreed to a five-year contract, which is subject to approval of the CU Board of Regents. A board meeting scheduled for Sunday morning was canceled and will be rescheduled. 

"Athletic Director Rick George and I have spoken to Coach several times in recent days and we have both been impressed by his integrity, his storied career as both a player and now a coach, and his ability to lead and shape his players," DiStefano wrote. "As a nationally prominent figure, he will elevate our program and university in unprecedented ways. His passion for the student-athletes in his charge will make him a perfect fit for CU Boulder."  

> Watch the press conference introducing Sanders

Sanders replaces Karl Dorrell, who was fired Oct. 2 after starting the season 0-5. The Buffs finished the 2022 campaign with a 1-11 record. The team's lone win came against Cal on Oct. 15 under interim head coach Mike Sanford. 

Dorrell had an 8-15 record in his two-plus seasons at CU. The Buffs made one bowl game during his tenure, the Alamo Bowl, in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. The Buffs lost that game to Texas 55-23. 

Sanders, 55, had been head coach at Jackson State in Mississippi since 2020. He led the program to a 27-5 record during his three seasons at the helm, which included back-to-back Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships in 2021-2022. Sanders won the Eddie Robinson Award in 2021 after leading Jackson State to an 11-1 record. The Eddie Robinson Award is the highest honor for a college football coach in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as I-AA).

Sanders had also been rumored to be a head coaching candidate at the University of South Florida and the University of Cincinnati.

CU hopes Sanders' hiring will bring the football program back to prominence as it once was during Bill McCartney's tenure in the 1980s and 1990s.

Credit: AP
FILE - In this Jan. 28, 1996, file photo, Dallas Cowboys' Deion Sanders celebrates during first quarter play against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Super Bowl XXX in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Susan Ragan, File)

Deion's football career

Sanders has been in the spotlight for most of his adult life. After a standout high school career at North Fort Myers High in Lee County, Florida, he attended Florida State University. At FSU, Sanders earned All-American status three times in football. He also played baseball and ran track while at the school. 

Sanders was selected fifth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1989 NFL draft. "Neon Deion" played for the Falcons for five seasons. He then signed with the San Francisco 49ers in 1994. There he won his first Super Bowl ring and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Credit: AP
Deion Sanders acknowledges the crowd, Sunday, Jan. 15, 1995, as his San Francisco 49ers' defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 38-28, to win the NFC Championship. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

In 1995, Sanders signed with the Dallas Cowboys. He helped the team win its third title in four years in 1995. He played three more years with the Cowboys before being cut in 2000.

Not long after being cut by the Cowboys, Sanders signed a seven-year contract with Washington. He abruptly retired from the team in 2001.

In another stunning move, Sanders came out of retirement in 2004 to play for the Baltimore Ravens. He played one more season for the Ravens before retiring for good after the 2005 season.

Sanders was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2011.

Atlanta Braves Deion Sanders hits a two-run single during the Braves 8-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, April 20, 1994 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Deion's baseball career

Coming out of high school, Sanders was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round of the 1985 Major League Baseball draft. He instead chose to attend FSU.

Sanders was then selected by the New York Yankees in the 1988 draft. In 1989, he made his MLB debut. 

That season, Sanders became the first and only player to hit a home run in the Majors and score a touchdown in the NFL in the same week. Sanders played one more year with the Yankees before being waived.

Sanders signed with the Atlanta Braves in 1991. The Braves had been the last place team in the National League in 1990. Sanders helped the team go from worst to first, but he wasn't able to play for the Braves during their postseason run due to his NFL contract. The Braves ended up losing to the Minnesota Twins in the 1991 World Series.

Atlanta Braves Deion Sanders yells as he beats a pickoff attempt from Montreal Expos pitcher Dennis Martinez to first baseman Greg Colbrunn in the third inning at Atlanta on Wednesday, August 26, 1992. (AP Photo/John Dickerson)

In 1992, Sanders reworked his NFL contract to allow him to play in the MLB playoffs while also playing football for the Falcons. The Braves went on to lose to the Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series. Sanders played with the Braves for 1993 and part of the 1994 season.

In May 1994, the Braves traded Sanders to the Cincinnati Reds. Sanders played the remainder of the 1994 strike-shortened season and part of the 1995 season with the Reds before he was traded to the San Francisco Giants in July. Sanders didn't play in MLB in 1996.

Sanders re-signed with the Reds in 1997. After that year, he took three years off. He came back in 2001, but was released by the Reds after 29 games.



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