Deion Sanders Becomes Just Second Ever College Football Coach to Win Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year

Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders, the head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, has made history by being named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year. This recognition places him in a unique position, as he becomes only the second college football coach to receive this honor, following Joe Paterno in 1986. Paterno’s award was in recognition of guiding Penn State to a 12-0 season and a national championship. Sanders becomes the first college coach in any sport to win the award since 2011 when Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summit shared the honor.

College Football Coaches That Have Won Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year

  • Joe Paterno, Penn State, 1986
  • Deion Sanders, Colorado, 2023

Sanders Named SI Sportsperson of the Year Despite Colorado’s Tough Finish to Season

Deion Sanders’ impact on the University of Colorado has been multifaceted and profound. Despite the Buffaloes’ challenging season, finishing with a 4-8 record, Sanders has been credited with revitalizing not just the football program but also the community and campus atmosphere.

Under his leadership, the Colorado football program saw significant improvements, including record-breaking spring game attendance and sell-out home games for the 2023 season, a first in the school’s history.

Early Season Upset Created Hype for Buffs

His arrival in Colorado was marked by bold moves, including a significant roster overhaul. Sanders brought key players from his previous tenure at Jackson State, including his son, quarterback Shedeur Sanders, and Travis Hunter, a two-way star.

This strategy paid off with Colorado achieving big early season victories, including an upset against 2022 national-runner up TCU, where Shedeur Sanders delivered an impressive performance.

Coach Prime’s Wider Social Impact

Sports Illustrated’s decision to honor Sanders goes beyond the win-loss record. It reflects his broader impact on the university and the sport. His influence has been felt in various aspects of campus life, including a significant increase in first-year applications, with notable rises in applications from Black or African American students and international students.

While Sanders’ coaching journey at Colorado has seen its share of challenges, including a series of losses towards the end of the season, his overall contribution to the program has been undeniable.

The recognition by Sports Illustrated is a nod to his unique and transformative impact on college football, echoing a sentiment that transcends traditional metrics of success in sports. Sanders’ story is a reminder of the profound influence a dedicated and charismatic coach can have, extending beyond the field and into the hearts and minds of the wider community.

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