Sitting at the desk in his office Monday in Boulder, Deion Sanders took a Zoom call from a reporter for USA TODAY and fielded a variety of questions as the head football coach of Colorado:
∎ His son and quarterback Shedeur has been sacked 22 times this season in just four games. Has he ever seen anything like that before, even when Shedeur was playing in youth league?
"Definitely not," Sanders said.
∎ Does he see himself coaching at Colorado until he retires, whenever that may be?
"I don’t look for stepping stones," he said. "I’m not like that."
∎ Will Shedeur and his brother Shilo really stick around to play for Colorado next year instead of going pro? And did Shedeur actually buy a new Rolls-Royce, as discussed last week with NFL legend Tom Brady?
"Shedeur has made a lot of money, man, in college," said Sanders, whose Buffaloes face No. 6 Southern California on Saturday at home.
The brief interview came on a Monday morning when his team was off from practice but Coach Prime still had work to do for his sponsor Aflac, the insurance company. In addition to his day job as coach, his contract with Aflac keeps him on TV frequently with commercials that feature him and Alabama coach Nick Saban. Their agreement also requires him to do a certain amount of interviews like the one below.
The Q&A was edited for context, length and flow and does not include remarks he made about why opposing coaches have taken personal verbal shots at him this season, which are part of a separate story here.
What about all those sacks endured by Shedeur Sanders?
Colorado is 3-1 but has had problems protecting Shedeur Sanders, who has been sacked 22 times. The Buffs rank second nationally out of 130 major college teams for the most sacks allowed overall (23).
Has the son or father ever faced anything like that?
"Shoot, we won three state titles in high school," Sanders said. "No, he hasn’t … It’s difficult for him and is different for him as well. It’s tough for me to see because I know we’re better than that. Schematically, we’re better than that. Fundamentally, we’re better than that. Holistically, we’re better than that, and we’ve got to do better than that. He’s too good to consistently receive that week after week after week after week."
How long will Deion Sanders be at Colorado?
After losing at Oregon on Saturday, 42-6, Sanders said, "this is the worst we’re gonna be." That might imply it will take some time to build the program to where he wants it. His team’s sensational 3-0 start and all the publicity that came with it also fueled speculation about the future market for his coaching services.
"I’m happy man," he said. "I’m happy. I’m elated. I’m thankful for the opportunity that (CU athletic director) Rick George gave me here, and I’ve fallen in love with this fan base. I’ve fallen in love with this city. I’ve fallen in love with this community, and I love the challenge of this. I absolutely love a challenge. Every good man, every man that’s a dawg that’s got some kind of swagger in him, you love a challenge, man. You do. So I love that. But don’t ship me out. Don’t pack me up. Don’t put me in a box and put a FedEx on me. Just let me ride, man. Let me have a good time and enjoy life because I really am."
Does Deion Sanders see himself retiring in this job?
"I don’t see myself retiring no time soon," Sanders said. "I’m a go-getter, man."
But is this a job he could stay at until you decide to retire, whenever that is? He has said he's not interested in coaching in the NFL.
"I don’t look for stepping stones," he said. "I’m not like that. I never wanted to leave Atlanta (in the NFL). The Falcons made me a free agent. I never wanted to leave for San Francisco (in the NFL). They made me a free agent. I never said, 'I'm out.' Never, in nothing I’ve ever done pretty much.
"It’s always been like encouragement that’s pushed me out or something that’s done that don’t allow me to stay. But trust me, I’ve never … I’m not built like that. No, I take that back, probably the marriages I said, 'I’m out. I’m out. I can’t do this no more.' I did that. I got divorced, so I take that back."
Will Shedeur and Shilo Sanders go pro next year?
Deion Sanders recently attended a Denver Broncos game with his sons, where here told Shedeur and Shilo, a safety for Colorado, that they’re not going to the NFL next year and are instead staying at CU to play for him, according to the conversation captured on the YouTube channel of his eldest son Deion Jr.
Both Shedeur and Shilo have excelled this year for the Buffs and could declare for the NFL draft if they wanted to next year. Both also could return to Boulder in 2024.
"A lot of times you don’t know if it’s serious or we joking," Deion Sanders said. "We just love to have fun. We just allow you in on our private conversations. So that’s the way we really act … We just was joking about it, but it was serious."
So what does he expect?
"I’m always gonna do what’s best for my kids," he said. "Let’s believe that. So whatever that entails, we’re gonna make the decision that suits them."
Did Shedeur Sanders recently buy a Rolls-Royce?
Deion Sanders questioned Brady, the former NFL quarterback, last week about whether his son needs a Rolls-Royce as a college kid. He already had a Mercedes-Maybach.
"We’re not gonna get into his personal needs and desires," Deion Sanders said Monday. "You do know he’s a Sanders, right? I’m just saying, so like a parent that is affluent you would think that their kids have what they want. Shilo has a very, very nice car as well. My daughter drives a Mercedes. She’s been driving one since high school. My sister, I bought her a BMW when she was 16, then she had a Benz when she was 18. So this ain’t nothing new to the Sanders family. I just don’t want you think this is something new."
It's not, but it seemed his father was trying to tell him it was something he didn’t "need" as a 21-year-old college kid, since he already has a Maybach.
"Shedeur has made a lot of money, man, in college. And they’re good stewards. The thing that I love the most and admire about my kids the most, he and Shilo was having an argument only a month ago about who had the most money in the bank.
"I like that. As a parent, I love that, so those are things I want to highlight. Not the Maybach or the Rolls-Royce or what they have. They’ve made a lot of money. Pretty sure the Oikos (yogurt) commercial, the KFC commercial, they’ve been in several commercials with me. So they’ve made not only money with me, they’ve made their own NIL money (from their names, images or likenesses) . They’re doing pretty darn good. I’m trying get them to invest in property. That’s where we are right now."
How much does Deion Sanders' marketing genius play into being a head coach?
Speaking of commercials, Deion Sanders appeared on a new prerecorded spot for Aflac with Saban over the weekend. He’s a natural marketer, including in his work recruiting players and connecting with them through social media and the YouTube channels of his son and others.
"Winning and developing these young men into men is the No. 1 priority," he said. "What I do well and what I have a gift of, is marketing. It’s business. It’s understanding relationships with these young men. It’s a plethora of things. We just happen to be winning. We just happen to know how to put our brand forth. Aflac does a wonderful job of marketing me as well as coach Saban, but it doesn’t work if you don’t win."
What does Deion Sanders do with a player with two Fs on his report card?
Despite lots of turnover on his roster, the team posted a grade-point average in the spring semester of 2.932, the best GPA on record for the program. One way he promotes academic success is to prevent a player from falling behind.
If a player gets one "F" grade, Sanders said, "You’ve got time to work on that." But two failing grades?
"If you have two Fs, you’re not going to be involved in the program, period," he said. "You gonna go to school. You gonna go to class. You gonna go to study hall. You’re gonna get your grades until you bring that other F up. Then you can report back to the field. But other than that, you have no football responsibilities whatsoever with a couple Fs."
Can Colorado's offensive line compete against a team like USC?
His blockers up front had trouble against Oregon and gave up seven sacks. Now come the Trojans, a team that is 16-0 against Colorado all-time.
"I feel like we have depth," Sanders said. "Sometimes you just get your butt kicked, and it’s just like that. We’re not the first, and we don’t be the last. It just happens sometimes, and you just got to clean it up, flush and let’s go to the next game. And that’s what we’re doing."
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. Email: email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Deion Sanders interview tackles future plans, sacks against son, NFL