Deion Sanders reaps instant rewards as CU Buffs change transfer rules

BOULDER — Most of the tumult and shouting were spent on new Colorado football coach Deion Sanders during a Sunday afternoon news conference that quickly turned into a jubilant coronation.

But CU chancellor Phil DiStefano received a rousing ovation of his own when he made it clear that the Buffs will help Sanders stock his football roster by making it easier for CU to recruit players via the transfer portal.

“I’m excited to announce that from the administration’s standpoint, we are working to give coach, and all of his student-athletes, the tools they need to succeed,” DiStefano said from the Dal Ward Center. “In conjunction with our faculty partners, we are updating some of our transfer-credit review processes with a program that seeks to enhance … for all prospective transfer students — students and student-athletes — expedited assessments of transfer ability and academic credits from other institutions to be accepted at CU-Boulder.”

Put another way: It will be easier for Sanders to bring in transfers from other schools and, theoretically, rebuild the Buffs’ woebegone program.

As Southern California and several other programs have shown in the past year, the transfer portal can expedite the rebuilding process. Sanders certainly would not have taken the CU job if he thought he would have to struggle for multiple seasons. So expect the 28th coach in Colorado history to use the portal to attempt a turnaround from its 1-11 record.

In the past, CU’s academic standards, in terms of the type of transfer credits it accepted, made it difficult for coaches to recruit second- and third-year transfers from other schools and get them eligible to play right away.

This hadn’t been a problem when the NCAA required transfers to sit out a year prior to returning to the field. But after the NCAA changed its rules, allowing players the opportunity to transfer once and gain immediate eligibility, it became much more challenging for the Buffs to bring in players through the transfer portal. Among Pac-12 programs, only Stanford (one) and California (eight) from the summer of 2020 through the summer of 2022 acquired fewer football players via the transfer portal than CU’s 10, according to the database.

Sanders, in prime-time form, introduced his family and took a moment to make sure everyone knew his son, Shedeur — Sanders’ current quarterback at Jackson State — will transfer to Boulder and be taking starting snaps for the Buffs.

“This is your quarterback,” he said, beaming, then added, “he’s going to have to earn it.”

The younger Sanders, a sophomore, has thrown for 3,383 yards and 36 touchdowns for the Tigers this fall.

CU’s Owen McCown, a true freshman, was the Buffs’ most effective quarterback during their 1-11 season. Last week, he announced he was planning to put his name in the NCAA transfer portal and leave Colorado.

“For my teammates, you will always be brothers to me and I will cherish the memories we shared,” McCown said tweeted Thursday. “With that being said, I intend to enter the transfer portal.”

McCown is gone, but Coach Prime already has his replacement in place.

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