It’s hard not to see head coach Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes everywhere you look this college football season.
Open Instagram? It’s every other post. Turn on the TV? Each sports channel can’t go minutes without their latest take on Sanders. Moral of the story? They are the story. These guys are at the center of the biggest sports news in America.
“Coach Prime,” as Sanders has been dubbed, brings his Buffaloes into Mountain America Stadium with a boatload of intrigue already under their belt this young season. Just like his playing days, Sanders’s bravado and aura have the entire country talking, especially a few of Colorado's opponents.
The pre-game smack talk between the Buffaloes and opponents like Nebraska and Colorado State reached a fever pitch, exploding on social media and giving Sanders all the "bulletin board material" he needed.
After their 3-0 start, the college football universe directed every set of eyeballs on Eugene, Oregon, where the Buffaloes would travel to take on the No. 8 Oregon Ducks. The Colorado hype train, however, would turn from a bullet train into a broken-down steam engine after a 42-6 beatdown to the Ducks.
Oregon coach Dan Lanning gave a fiery pregame speech, sending jabs at Sanders’s team, with terms like “rooted in substance” and “they’re fighting for clicks, we’re fighting for wins.”
With all this passion and trash talk towards Sanders and the Buffaloes, this week’s media sessions for the Sun Devils were sure to have a little more weight than most. A disciple of Lanning, ASU Head Coach Kenny Dillingham is taking a very similar route in his post-practice press conferences, keeping the focus on his own program.
“It’s about us,” Dillingham said. “It’s always about us. It’s another game. It’s about us being the best version of us. So we’re going to go compete to be better today.”
The message has seemed to stick with the players. ASU’s starting quarterback, redshirt junior Trenton Bourguet, who echoed Dillingham's sentiment and was all business.
“I think each and every week it doesn’t matter who we play, they're kinda just faceless,” Bourguet said. “We’re gonna watch their film, but it’s not really ‘oh it’s these guys or these guys,’ it’s just this is our opponent this week, we’re going to play them Saturday and come Saturday night, it’s onto the next opponent.”
Dillingham refuses to add fuel to the media inferno Colorado has lit from their bulletin board schemes, as the fellow first-year coach said he has nothing but respect for Sanders.
“He let me recruit his son, and I respected that a lot,” Dillingham said after Wednesday’s practice. “The fact that you have this guy who’s accomplished everything you can accomplish in football, and he didn’t make the process in his son’s recruitment about him.”
Dillingham also confirmed the statements the Colorado coach made earlier this week, which revealed the two were previously going to work together. Even with the nugget of history between the two coaches and the media attention Colorado has received, the Sun Devils are keeping their heads down and focusing on executing their game plan.
For ASU, this includes not responding to Colorado’s limelight in the public manner some of the other teams have.
“We don’t have to respond to that,” redshirt junior defensive back Ro Torrence said. “We just show up on Saturday, ready to play.”
Torrence also said every game for the Sun Devils is a big game, no matter the opponent.
While previous teams have made heated comments on Sanders and his team, Dillingham seemed to have put out some of the media fire by sharing another side of Sanders, one he saw during Shedeur’s recruitment, dating back to a time before the Primetime media frenzy.
“It’s all about him, it’s all about him,” Dillingham said regarding Deion's blazing media presence. “But I got to see a side to that where he said, ‘No, it’s not.’”
Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Sadie Buggle and Shane Brennan