Deion Sanders’ first year at Colorado provided one of the biggest storylines of the 2023 college football season. Regardless of conference or team affiliation, the eyes of the college football world were on Boulder, Colorado, waiting to see what Coach Prime would do next.
After starting the season out at 3-0, the Buffaloes fell apart, losing eight of their final nine games. During that stretch of early season wins, there wasn’t a bigger story on ESPN, and the viewership being reported during that time was astronomical.
Known as the “Prime Effect,” Colorado football’s viewership numbers spiked in 2023, with the Oregon-Colorado game being the second-most watched game of the regular season with 10.3 million viewers, lagging only behind Ohio State-Michigan, which brought in 19 million.
While that kind of exposure is what every athletic department dreams of, there are times that being the center of attention all every waking moment is a lot to handle, even if your name is “Primetime.”
“You always wish that you had a little more privacy,” Sanders tells PEOPLE magazine. “But the same thing that makes you shine will show your blemishes.”
“So, you’ve got to take the good with the bad. You can’t just want everyone there when the hype machine is rolling, you have to understand there’s another side to this.”
Sanders told PEOPLE that “it was a whirlwind early on,” after their 3-0 start, but that things quieted down significantly once the losses started to pile up.
“Then it calmed down to a halt,” Sanders said. “We’re going to show you how we dealt with that adversity, it was tough because I’ve never lost pretty much in life, and in the last several years of my life, 10 years, decade, I’m a darn winner, so dealing with losses was tough.
“No, we didn’t win as many games as we desired, but if there are no valleys, we wouldn’t enjoy the peaks.”
While Coach Prime says that more privacy around his program would be nice, he doesn’t believe all the attention had a negative impact on his team’s performance in 2023, and in fact, he thinks it will help them in the long run.
“These young men, they want the smoke. They want that love, that hype, that attention. I don’t know a high school football athlete, or a college football athlete, that don’t want attention and don’t want more followers. I haven’t met one yet.”
“You’ve just got to teach them how to handle it in that moment, but also allow them to understand now what shines — well, that same light gives heat, so it is going to be hot too, now. You’re not just going to shine. When you do something wrong, that’s going to be illuminated, as well.”
Colorado is one of four teams that will join the Big 12 in 2023, with Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State all jumping ship from the Pac-12 next summer.