For two weeks in a row, the head coach of the opposing team has taken a personal verbal shot at Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders.
“Three weeks in a row,” Sanders said Monday in an interview with USA TODAY Sports. “We’re not counting.”
OK, three weeks in a row, if you include the actions or words of Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule.
But why? It’s not like it’s necessary for these coaches to motivate their teams with criticism of Sanders, whose Buffaloes (3-1) face No. 6 Southern California (4-0) at home on Saturday. Actually, it only seems to provide more motivation for Sanders and his players, as they said it did during before and after they beat Colorado State and Nebraska, respectively.
“I wonder why that is,” a reporter said to him Monday on a Zoom call.
“You know why that is,” Sanders said. “Just say it. Don’t try to get me and provoke me to say it. Just say it, man. I mean, some of y'all gotta have some balls sooner or later to just say what it is. You can’t provoke me to say it. I’m not built like that.”
What else did Deion Sanders say about it?
Sanders discussed this topic in an interview with USA TODAY Sports on Monday morning, when his team was off from practice but Sanders still had work to do, particularly for his sponsor Aflac, the insurance company. Aflac has helped amplify the chronic television exposure of Sanders this season with its frequent commercials featuring him and Alabama coach Nick Saban. His contract with the company also requires him to do a certain amount of interviews like this, in which he discussed why he never returns the verbal volleys from opposing coaches.
“Even when I played, everybody thought I talked,” said Sanders, a Pro Football Hall of Famer. “I never talked (negatively about opponents). I just really had a good time with the media, and I talked about me. I never spoke of my opponent. You can’t find one clip of me ever speaking negatively or about my opponent, period. I don’t believe in that. I don't condone that.”
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The string of comments
Some coaches feel differently about saying things about the other coach, even if they don't mention Sanders by name. Before his team beat Colorado on Saturday 42-6, Oregon coach Dan Lanning delivered a fiery pregame speech that contrasted his team of “substance” to the Hollywood “flash” of Sanders and Colorado, which use social media and video content to connect with potential recruits.
“The Cinderella story is over, man,” Lanning told his players before the game, as shown on ABC television. “They’re fighting for clicks. We’re fighting for wins. There’s a difference, right? There’s a difference. This game ain’t gonna be played in Hollywood. It’s gonna be played on the grass.”
At halftime, when his team was leading 35-0, Lanning appeared to take another shot at the high television viewership Colorado received during its 3-0 start before Saturday − 25.3 million on Fox and ESPN combined.
“We're not satisfied,” Lanning told a reporter for ABC. “I hope all those people that have been watching every week are watching this week.”
The week before, Colorado State coach Jay Norvell took a shot at the manners of Sanders, whose personal style includes frequently wearing sunglasses and hats.
“When I talk to grown-ups, I take my hat and my glasses off,” Norvell said on his coaches show before his team lost to Colorado in overtime Sept. 16. “That’s what my mother taught me."
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Deion Sanders said some coaches are 'not built like that'
Sanders responded by using the latter remarks to help motivate his team. He also didn’t return the fire in a personal way with Lanning, either. He instead acknowledged Saturday after the game that he knew about Lanning's remarks while also acknowledging Oregon had delivered a "butt-kicking" to the Buffs. He greeted Lanning on the field afterward and hugged Oregon quarterback Bo Nix. On Monday, he took the high road again.
“Everybody has a tremendous gift from God, and I’m happy for them, especially if they’ve made it to this level,” Sanders said of these coaches. “I’m happy for all these coaches. I don’t know what it is, but I know coach Saban, these coaches that we’re about to play this weekend (USC), they’re not built like that. They’re very successful. They ain’t got time to do certain things. They’re very successful men, and I respect the heck out of them. So some things they won’t do that others probably would.”
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Deion Sanders discusses why other coaches take verbal shots at him