Bock’s Score: Rocky Mountain Deion

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Get set, Boulder, Colo. Deion Sanders is coming to town. This is going to be some show.

Sanders bailed out of the football coaching job at Jackson State, where he resurrected a moribund program in three years, to sign on at Colorado, where he is expected to resurrect another moribund program in less time than that.

Don’t bet against the man they call” Coach Prime.”

That’s an abbreviation from Prime Time, the nickname he carried through a remarkable career in football and baseball, the only man to appear in both a World Series and Super Bowl. And he wore an impressive amount of bling for both events.

Neon Deion (that was another nickname) first surfaced on the radar as a fast-talking cornerback at Florida State, who played the position with a vengeance. His zest for the game led him to All-America status and eventually to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There were 14 seasons in the NFL with five teams and nine seasons in Major League Baseball with four teams.

Everywhere he played, Sanders left people talking about his remarkable athletic abilities, a combination of skills rarely seen. He talked fast and he played fast.

And then he turned to coaching. He was not interested in being a token assistant, working his way up in the ranks. He chose instead to start with the head job at obscure Jackson State, one of America’s Historic Black Colleges and Universities.

He was all in at Jackson State – for three seasons. And then, having turned the team around, he left town, headed for Boulder where another team needs turning around. The University of Colorado, a Power Five conference team, was a one-win program, just like Jackson State used to be.

This will not do, so the university waved a $6 million contract to catch Coach Prime’s attention and he was on the next plane to Boulder. It was a nice bump from the $300,000 or so he was earning at Jackson State.

Sanders was only doing what college coaches often do. Brian Kelly had his dream job at Notre Dame and then showed up at Louisiana State. Nick Saban had been at LSU before that as well as Michigan State and the Miami Dolphins before settling in to become college football’s highest paid coach at Alabama.

So, strike up the band. Get out the floats and confetti. Neon Deion is on the case and the Buffaloes will surely be heard from because success seems to follow him everywhere.





About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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