BOULDER, Colo. — Prime Time is returning to Division I college football.
Deion Sanders was named the University of Colorado football coach on Saturday night, bringing the swagger that earned him the nickname “Prime Time” during his college and pro football careers to the Rocky Mountain area.
“There were a number of highly qualified and impressive candidates interested in becoming the next head football coach at Colorado, but none of them had the pedigree, the knowledge and the ability to connect with student-athletes like Deion Sanders,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a statement. “Not only will Coach Prime energize our fanbase, I’m confident that he will lead our program back to national prominence while leading a team of high quality and high character.”
Sanders will replace Karl Dorrell, who was fired in October after the team opened the season with five consecutive losses, KDVR-TV reported.
The Pro Football Hall of Famer guided Jackson State, a historically Black college that plays in the second tier of NCAA Division I football, to a 12-0 mark this season. The Tigers ended their season with a 43-24 victory against Southern University in the Southwestern Athletic Conference title game Saturday night.
“I have chosen to accept a job elsewhere next year,” Sanders said in a video posted to Instagram. “I’m going to finish what we started. We’re going to dominate. I’m going to be here until that end and that conclusion, and then we’re going to move on.
Sanders was in his third season at Jackson State, compiling a 27-5 record and back-to-back SWAC championships, the Clarion Ledger of Jackson reported.
“Deion Sanders’ stature transcends sports, and his hiring elevates not only the football program but the university as a whole,” Colorado Chancellor Philip DiStefano said in a statement. “I’m thankful Deion has chosen to join our Buffalo family and I applaud Rick George for a truly inspired choice. This is an exciting new chapter in the long, storied history of Colorado football and I look forward to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our students, supporters and fans to cheer on “Coach Prime” and our student-athletes next fall.”
The Tigers will play in the 2022 Celebration Bowl on Dec. 17, according to the newspaper. Jackson State will face North Carolina at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Sanders has said publicly that he had been offered the Colorado job, ESPN reported. He has also mentioned as a candidate for openings at the University of Cincinnati and the University of South Florida, the Daily Camera of Boulder reported.
Known as “Prime Time” during his playing career, Sanders now prefers to be called “Coach Prime.” He said the offer to coach the Buffaloes is not a distraction.
“To someone else that hasn’t been that dude, it’s intoxicating. I’ve been ‘Prime’ for a long time, dog,” Sanders said earlier this week, according to The Denver Post. “Attention ain’t nothing new to me. Like, come on. I’m not being braggadocious -- that’s a wonderful word, isn’t it? I just came up with that — but this isn’t new to me. Being in the spotlight isn’t new to me.”
Sanders will owe Jackson State about $300,000 for a contract buyout, according to a copy of the agreement he signed in 2020, the Clarion Ledger reported. His current contract at Jackson State expires on Dec. 15, 2024.
The contract requires Sanders to pay half the remaining salary on his deal if he leaves for another job, as long as Ashley Robinson is still the athletics director at Jackson State, according to the newspaper.
A four-year starter at Florida State University from 1985 to 1988, Sanders made 14 interceptions, returning three for touchdowns, according to Sports-Reference.com.
As a pro, Sanders had 53 interceptions and returned nine of them for touchdowns during his 14-year career as a defensive back, according to Pro-Football-Reference. He also returned three kickoffs and six punts for scores.
He was named the 1994 Defensive Player of the Year by The Associated Press. He was starting cornerback on two winning Super Bowl teams, playing right cornerback for San Francisco in Super Bowl XXIX and left cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sanders was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.
Sanders also played major league baseball during parts of nine seasons from 1989 to 2001, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Sanders is the only athlete ever to play in both a Super Bowl and the World Series.
©2022 Cox Media Group