Sanders wins Sportsperson of Year award from Sports Illustrated for starting turnaround at Colorado

· Nov. 30, 2023, 8:38 am
Deion Sanders, Shilo SandersDeion Sanders, Shilo SandersDavid Zalubowski/AP
Colorado head coach Deion Sanders, right, hugs his son, safety Shilo Sanders, after he returned an interception for a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Colorado State Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Boulder, Colo.

By Pat Graham/AP

Deion Sanders reinvigorated a fanbase and put a downtrodden football program back on the map in his first season at Colorado.

For that, the Buffaloes coach was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated.

It was a roller-coaster inaugural season as Sanders took over a 1-11 Colorado team. But it was an entertaining ride, complete with sellouts, celebrities showing up on the Folsom Field sideline, media visits from major networks and of course progress on the field.

The Buffaloes sprinted out of the gate, going 3-0 and becoming the the talk of college football. They finished by losing eight of their last nine to wind up 4-8.

Sanders did things his way, too. He overhauled his roster after his arrival from Jackson State and turned to the transfer portal in order to quickly rebuild. That rubbed some the wrong way.

Not that Sanders cared. He once quipped, “Your opinion of me is not the opinion that I have for myself.” Sanders frequently wears a Colorado sweatshirt that reads: “I ain’t hard 2 find,” a message to highly touted recruits that his door was open.

The Buffaloes are moving from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 next season.

Sanders will be featured on the cover in the Dec. 15 issue. In the background of the picture taken at Folsom Field are his supporters, which includes his kids — quarterback Shedeur, defensive back Shilo, social-media coordinator Deion Jr. and Buffaloes basketball player Shelomi. Also pictured are athletic director Rick George, Colorado Chancellor Philip DiStefano, super fan Peggy Coppom, who recently turned 99, his longtime business partner Constance Schwartz-Morini and a crowd of Buffaloes supporters.

This marks the seventh time Deion Sanders has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, five times as a player and one other time when he was coach at Jackson State.

“Deion Sanders dominated the sports conversation in 2023 as a transformative figure not just in Colorado, but for the entire realm of college sports,” Stephen Cannella, editor in chief of SI, said in a statement. “On and off the field, he represents a new model for the modern college coach.”

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