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The MLB Disconnect: Story Lines Electric, Future Dim

Any emotional plunge into the 2021 season is accompanied by a warning: A work stoppage is only months away, which would reduce baseball to a niche slog no longer worthy of America’s investment.

Jay Mariotti

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The geek in me, somewhere beneath layers of cynical crust, cannot wait to see Francisco Lindor in a market that deserves him. Or Kim Ng make her first major deadline deal. Or the Blue Jays, rejected at the Canadian border like Lil Wayne and Keith Richards, play home games at their 8,500-seat spring training facility. Or Trevor Bauer throw a gunked-up, four-seam fastball with an elevated spin rate toward the dreads of Fernando Tatis Jr., gaslighting a rivalry formerly soggier than a bag of fish tacos.

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“I’ll speak for the people of San Diego: There’s nothing we can’t do,” said Peter Seidler, chairman of the Padres, who are trying to dethrone the Dodgers after decades of not trying at all — their .462 winning percentage since 1969 ranking last in the majors, embarrassing even Ron Burgundy.

The fan in me wants to know if Tony La Russa will need naps during night games, if Jose Altuve is forever lost in sign-stealing purgatory, if Mike Trout can ride the reborn Shohei Ohtani to October, if Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna have descended from a neighboring universe, if the Shortstop Wars featuring Tatis and Lindor and Trevor Story and Corey Seager and Trea Turner are Major League Baseball’s exhilarating answer to the NFL’s quarterbacking rage. Will the Yankees, in a city of elite medical care, find doctors and trainers worthy of their payroll? Will those insufferable Boston loons, incensed not to have won a World Series in three whole years, burn down a billboard near Fenway Park — purchased by a Dodgers troll — thanking the Red Sox for gifting Mookie Betts?

“I don’t care if you’re working at Waffle House or for the Red Sox or for the Dodgers. You should just get paid what you’re worth,” said Betts, who wore a $3,500 blazer and $1,495 Dodger blue loafers for a GQ profile.

And the adventurer in me wants to be at the ballpark, any ballpark, for the first real Opening Day in 104 weeks. If that journey takes me to the nearest option, the COVID-19 vaccination site once known as Dodger Stadium, I will sprint to the closest stand and order a Dodger Dog. I will not eat it without first gazing at it longingly, making certain it’s charred appropriately with the proper bun texture before devouring it like Joey Chestnut on a bender. Then I’ll head to whatever seat they assign me, distanced despite the two vaccine jabs in my left arm, to sit among the folks whose absence sucked life from the sport amid the pandemic disruptions of 2020.

“It was the worst, to be honest,” the Cubs’ Javy Báez said of the numbing fan-less season. “It was worse than facing a pitcher in spring training in the back field. I didn’t like it at all.”

Yet the realist in me, the one who views sports as a massive industry and not as a sandbox for media people who never grew up, knows that 2021 isn’t about fairy tales, poetry or even basic story lines. It’s tempting, in fact, to just send everybody home before the first pitch. You know, lock the owners and players in a rubber room — with wild tigers and deadly snakes poised to attack for strategic urgency — and not let them out until they decide how to amicably divide tens of billions of dollars in future revenues. Bloodied by interminable crises and scandals for eons, Major League Baseball has reached a breaking point that reduces the events of an arriving season to afterthoughts. Simply, if the billionaires can’t hunker down with the multi-millionaires and mutually grasp the destructive ramifications of an approaching labor impasse — with the collective bargaining agreement expiring at season’s end — then this sport deserves to fade into some dark abyss.

As the diseased cow of American entertainment, baseball can’t afford a 2022 work stoppage. Otherwise, in a precipitous cultural decline that started with the 1994 strike and continued through steroids and cheating disgraces, a sport once known grandly as the national pastime will slip-slide into a niche mode — closer to hockey and soccer on the U.S. relevance meter than almighty pro and college football. Only by the questionable grace of broadcast network enablers — ESPN and Turner have signed new, multi-year deals and joined Fox as marketing buttresses — does MLB continue as a national player, even as every autumn establishes new lows for postseason ratings and new highs for average viewing age (59, opposed to 42 for NBA games). What baseball does best — fun at the ballpark — also has taken a huge hit, with attendance drops in each of the four seasons before the pandemic.

The warring parties could be pulled further apart by the explosive racial climate in Georgia. After the state legislature restricted voter access, a law that President Biden described as “Jim Crow in the 21st century,” Manfred should be working furiously to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Already, Players Association executive director Tony Clark has suggested players will boycott the game, but knowing how MLB operates in slow motion, don’t be shocked if Manfred lets the Masters take the critical abuse — does anyone believe the Augusta National fathers, for all their progressive strides, would devote a nanosecond to the issue? — and stays the course for July 13 at Truist Park. That would not be a positive step in labor talks.

How tragic that a traveling company with so many dynamic stars — more than the NBA, when you think about it — can’t get out of its own way. For this morass, the owners are to blame, as always. So nakedly hellbent on financial ambition, they lost touch with the 21st century and hired a commissioner, Rob Manfred, who somehow is more obtuse than his Mr. Magoo-like predecessor, Bud Selig. Why, in a world moving at technological warp speed, would the powers-that-be insist on putting jackrabbits into a continuing turtle race? We’ve heard for years that the commissioner’s office was concerned about pace-of-play issues and would unilaterally install a 20-second pitch clock if the Players Association didn’t cooperate. Even though such a clock has been used in the minor leagues since 2015, we’re still waiting for implementation at the big-league level … because the union isn’t budging and owners are complicit, actually preferring that games plod on because it’s good for business.

Rob Manfred's latest defense of Astros' punishments only adds to absurd  mess MLB has created

No event that averages three hours and seven minutes — up almost a half-hour from the pre-Selig years — is good for business. While the smart sports leagues accelerated the pace of action with Lamborghini infusions, from NFL offensive explosions to NBA three-point madness, baseball decided a cement mixer made more sense. In an era-defining Sports Illustrated takedown, Tom Verducci found alarming bits of data that support the dawdling: Since 2011, players take 2.6 seconds more between pitches and put the ball in play on only 15.8 percent of the pitches — meaning, 259 pitches are thrown a game without a ball in play while an average of four minutes pass without a ball in play. More Verducci: “Last season set per-game records for highest strikeout rate for a 15th straight year (23.4%). It also set per-game records for most pitchers (8.9), most hit batters (0.92), fewest sacrifice hits (0.14), and length of nine-inning games (3:07). Batting average last season (.245) and stolen bases the past two seasons (0.94 and 0.98) sunk to their lowest rates since 1972.”

We watch baseball to be stimulated, right? Instead, we are being tortured, wasting our time and energy and money on an unwatchable slog. What are we supposed to do during those 259 pitches? The owners want us to eat $8 hot dogs and drink $15 beers at the ballpark. Or, if not already asleep at home, to catch glimpses of advertising signage behind home plate and throughout the ballpark. They do not care that games are longer than “The Irishman” or most one-way domestic flights in the U.S. They have allowed the preeminent sport of the 20th century to crash early in a new millennium.

Strikeouts, walks, home runs — that’s baseball. In the concluding Game 6 of the World Series, only two balls were put into play in the final 28 minutes.

A recipe for ennui.

“Three true outcomes — that kind of gets old. That’s where I think the game kind of lacks,” said Angels manager Joe Maddon, who would be a better commissioner than Manfred.

Only too happy to participate in the slowdown was the new breed of front-office thinkers, prioritizing nerd-alytics and keeping bosses happy with shady maneuvers such as the manipulation of service time. How ironic that the most accomplished bro-dude exec, Theo Epstein, has been summoned by Manfred to address the waning entertainment value. “I take some responsibility for that because the executives, like me, who have spent a lot of time using analytics and other measures, have unwittingly had a negative impact on the aesthetic value of the game and the entertainment value of the game,” said Epstein, now a consultant to the commissioner after breaking historic curses with the Red Sox and Cubs.

But it’s much too late to fix what ails baseball when Manfred and Selig lost one generation and are about to lose another. Deadening the baseball this year is a lost cause thanks to Manfred, who was responsible for an absurd, six-year home-run boom that diluted and ruined the coolest thrill in sports. Limiting defensive shifts is long overdue, but making infield bags larger to encourage base-stealing — hell, does anyone even remember Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock … or Barry Bonds before he sold out to PEDs and power records?

The lords also want bunts. Who knows how to bunt anymore?

As I’ve pointed out, maybe 10 teams care about winning a World Series this year. The other 20 do not, including foundational franchises such as the Cubs and Red Sox, which makes for a lopsided, painful imbalance that drains competitive integrity. The state of MLB must be pretty dismal when Donnie Baseball himself is grumbling. “I watched a lot of the playoff games after we were eliminated and quite honestly it was a little hard to watch,” said Don Mattingly, manager of the Marlins. “There was nothing going on. Strikeout, strikeout, home run. It was hard to watch. It tells me we have to find a way to make our game move.”

The owners and players should try thinking, for once, outside the batter’s box. They should focus not on themselves but on the sport they’ve collectively wrecked and the dwindling number of Americans who still care. And before the owners even begin to deal with a union that doesn’t trust them, they must settle their own internal differences over revenue sharing, lest the number of tankers continue to overwhelm the serious teams.

I’ve tried my best. I’ve listed several reasons to watch baseball in 2021. I’ve tried to be positive.

But why invest in baseball when baseball won’t invest in you? Why embrace an industry that again holds a knife at America’s back, ready to plunge it only minutes after a champion is crowned and the TV money is banked?

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The season is here, perhaps the last baseball we’ll see for a long time. Indulge at your own risk.

BSM Writers

Marty Smith Loves The ‘Pinch Me’ Moments

“I don’t look at it as a talent-based platform. I don’t look at it as a results-based platform. I look at it as a platform that was built and sustained through the way I treat other people, through the work ethic that I believe that I have and through the passion that I know I have.”

Demetri Ravanos

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I tell this story all the time. It is told for laughs, but it is absolutely true. Marty Smith once gave me a giant box of beef jerky.

I was in Charlotte visiting him and Ryan McGee on the set of Marty & McGee as part of a larger feature I was doing on the SEC Network. We spent probably 3 hours together that day. It was a lot of fun. The last thing I watched the duo shoot was a promo for Old Trapper Beef Jerky, the presenting sponsor of their show.

As they finished, I shook their hands and told them I had to get on the road. That is when Smith presented me with a box of twelve bags of Old Trapper and told me, in as sincere a voice as you can imagine, that he wanted me to have it.

“I mean, listen, if you give a man beef jerky, by God, you like him,” Smith said to me when I reminded him of that story earlier this week. “That’s redneck currency right there, bud.”

There just aren’t a lot of people in this business like Marty Smith. ESPN definitely knows it too. That is why the network finds every opportunity it can to use him to tell the stories of the events and people it covers.

Last week, he spent Monday and Tuesday with the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens. He got a day back home in Charlotte before he headed to Atlanta for the SEC Network’s coverage of the SEC Championship Game on Thursday. Saturday, after his duties for SEC Nation and College GameDay were done, he hit the road for Tuscaloosa to interview Nick Saban and be ready for ESPN’s coverage of the reveal of the final College Football Playoff rankings.

As if that isn’t enough, this week he heads to New York. It will be the second time ESPN will use him to conduct interviews and tell stories during the telecast of the Heisman Trophy presentation. It’s an assignment that Marty Smith still cannot believe is his.

“I’ve had a ton of pinch-me moments, but in the last five, six years, seven years, there are two that kind of stand out above the rest. One was when Mike McQuaid asked me to be part of his team to cover The Masters. The other was last year when my dear longtime friend Kate Jackson, who is the coordinating producer over the Heisman broadcast, asked me to be a part of her Heisman broadcast team and interview the coaches, players and families of the finalists,” Smith says. “You know, brother, I’ve been watching the Heisman Trophy my whole life.”

We talk about what the broadcast around the Heisman Trophy presentation is and how it differs from being on the sideline for a game. He is quick to point out that on a game day, the old adage “brevity is king” is a reality. In New York though, he will have more time to work with. He plans not to just fill it, but to use it.

Marty’s interest in his subjects’ backgrounds and their emotions is sincere. It is part of a larger philosophy. He respects that everyone has a story to tell and appreciates the opportunity to be the one that gets to tell it, so he is going to do all he can to make sure the people he is talking to know it and know that they matter to him. That means putting in the time to be respectful of his subject’s time.

“When I’m interviewing these players or coaches before a game, I want to interview them, and I’m saying not on camera, but when I’m doing the record. I want to get as thorough as I can get. Then you take all of that and you try to pare it down into a very small window. It’s not easy. I mean, look, most of the time you come home with reams of notes that never even sniff air.”

Marty Smith has always been a unique presence. As his profile has grown and he shows up on TV more often and in more places, more people question who this guy really is.

That is par for the course though, right? Someone with a unique presence sees their star rise and out come the naysayers ready to question how authentic the new object of our affections really is.

For me, there is a moment that defines Marty Smith, at least in this aspect. I cannot remember the year or the situation, but he was on The Dan Le Batard Show, back when it was on ESPN Radio. Smith was telling Dan about friends of his that are stars in the country music world and Dan asked what it is like when they are hanging out backstage before one of these guys goes out to perform.

I cannot remember Smith’s exact answer, but a word he used stood out to me. He said it was just buddies having a cold beer and “fellowshippin'”.

I told Marty about this memory of him and said that I am not accusing him of being inauthentic or his persona on television being an act, but I was curious if he was concious of the words he chooses. Even if the version we get of Marty Smith on TV is the same one we would get if we were part of the fellowshippin’, does he think about how he wants people to think about him?

He is quick to note that is isn’t an act at all. What you see when you see Marty Smith isn’t a persona he cooked up when he decided he was going into television. That is just his personality.

“It is a lifelong field from where I’m from to where I am,” he says of what we see on TV. “It is relationships made that pinched my clay and remolded who I was to who I am and reshaped me as a person.”

Anyone from The South can tell you that there is no one monolithic “South”. The gregarious, larger-than-life personalities in Louisiana may not always feel real to people from the more reserved and anglo-influenced South Carolina. The Southern accent I got from growing up in Alabama sounds nothing like the Southern accents I live near now in North Carolina.

If Marty Smith doesn’t seem authentic to you, maybe it is because his version of “Southern” isn’t one you’re familiar with. Maybe it is a version of “Southern” that only exists in one dude on the entire planet.

Smith is from Pearisburg, Virginia just outside of Blacksburg. Surely that informs who he is, but he is also shaped by the wealth of conversations he has had and the characters he has met from his professional life.

“At our company, you have to work really hard to not only make it, but to sustain it. I try hard to do that every day,” he says. “I’m sure I’ve said it before, man. I don’t look at it as a talent-based platform. I don’t look at it as a results-based platform. I look at it as a platform that was built and sustained through the way I treat other people, through the work ethic that I believe that I have and through the passion that I know I have. You piece all of those different things together, and along with opportunity you can do something special, and I’m trying to do that every day.”

The Marty Smith you see on TV is the guy that will hand you a box of beef jerky just because you had a great conversation. He is the guy you see in that viral video from a few years back giving a young reporter advice and encouragement.

You can be confused by Marty Smith. You can have your questions about him and his motivations. They aren’t going to change him though. It took too long for him to become who he is to start second-guessing it now.

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BSM Writers

Another World Cup Run Ends And There’s Still No Soccer Fever In The USA

“We get fired up once every four years, sing the anthem, wear American flag t-shirts, then go back to our daily lives, forgetting about the sport that was attached to the patriotism.”

Brian Noe

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Soccer fever? Hardly. Not in the United States at least. The US Men’s National Team lost in the round of 16 against the Netherlands 3-1 last Saturday. The ratings are in. And the ratings are revealing.

An average of 12.97 million viewers tuned in to see the Netherlands-United States World Cup match on FOX. Before you say, “Hey, not bad,” consider the fact that the ratings are down from eight years ago when 13.44 million viewers watched the USMNT lose to Belgium in the knockout stage on ESPN.

Even more damning are the ratings of the USMNT’s initial match in the 2022 World Cup against Wales, an unhealthy 8.31 million viewers.

Let me get this straight; fans waited, waited, and waited some more to finally see the USMNT in World Cup action, and the first game in eight years drew 8.31 million viewers? Really?

There were 5.5 million viewers across TV and digital that watched the NFL Network’s telecast of the New York Giants-Green Bay Packers game in London. That was a Week 5 game in the NFL compared to the World freaking Cup. Network television (FOX) compared to cable TV (NFL Network). And the ratings are comparable? Come on, US Soccer. Y’all gotta do better than this.

*Mini rant alert — it drives me crazy when soccer in this country is consistently compared to soccer in this country. The promoters of the sport paint an obnoxiously rosy picture of the growing popularity by comparing US soccer now to US soccer then. It’s a joke.

It would be like comparing Nebraska’s 4-8 record in college football this year, to Nebraska’s 3-9 record last year. “Hey, things are looking up!” Never mind the fact that the Cornhuskers are significantly trailing several teams in its conference and many other teams across the country. That’s US soccer in a nutshell. Don’t compare it to other leagues and sports that are crushing it, just say we’re up 10% from last year. Ridiculous.

*Mini rant continuing alert — the Michigan-Ohio State game drew 17 million viewers last month. The New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving drew 42 million viewers. Those are regular-season matchups compared to the biggest stage soccer has to offer. But go ahead and just compare US soccer to itself.

And no, the edge you might feel in my words isn’t born out of fear that soccer will somehow surpass the popularity of football. That would be like Mike Tyson being scared that the Stanford Tree mascot could beat him up. US soccer isn’t a threat, it’s a light breeze. I just hate a bad argument. And many soccer apologists have been making bad arguments on the behalf of US soccer for years. *Mini rant over

The World Cup didn’t prove that American fans are invested in soccer. It proved that we love a big event. It’s the same recipe every four years with the Olympics.

During the 2016 summer games in Rio, when swimmer Michael Phelps was in the pool for what turned out to be his final outing in an Olympic competition, the ratings peaked at 32.7 million viewers. Phelps helped Team USA win gold in the men’s 100-meter relay and then rode off into the sunset.

We don’t really care about swimming. When’s the last time you asked a friend, “You heading out tonight?” and the response was, “Are you crazy? The Pan Pacific Championships are on.”

Whether it’s the Olympics or World Cup, Americans care about the overall event much more than the individual sport. We get fired up once every four years, sing the anthem, wear American flag t-shirts, then go back to our daily lives, forgetting about the sport that was attached to the patriotism.

Ask yourself this, at the height of US swimming’s popularity, would you have paid $14.99 per month to watch non-Olympic events? Me either. US soccer isn’t exactly on fire following its showing in the 2022 World Cup, so the timing isn’t awesome to introduce a paywall for the sport’s top league in this country.

Apple and Major League Soccer have announced that MLS Season Pass will launch soon. I know you’re excited, but try to stay composed. Yes, MLS Season Pass will launch on February 1, 2023. It’s a 10-year partnership between MLS and Apple that features every live MLS regular-season match, the playoffs, and the League’s Cup.

Have I died and gone to heaven?

How much?

It’ll run you $14.99 per month or $99 per season on the Apple TV app. For Apple TV+ subscribers — make sure you’re sitting down for this, you lucky people — it’s $12.99 per month or $79 per season. If you don’t have US soccer fever right now, I doubt you’re running out to throw down cash on a product you aren’t passionate about.

Now if the USMNT won the 2022 World Cup, cha-ching. The popularity of US soccer would definitely grow in a major way. Even if they had a strong showing while reaching the quarterfinals, the momentum would be much greater. But a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the group of 16? Nope. This isn’t it. I don’t expect much more than some tumbleweed rolling by instead of cash registers heating up for MLS Season Pass.

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BSM Writers

Colorado Hiring Deion Sanders Will Be Constant Gift for College Football Media

“If Coach Prime achieves the same sort of success that he did with the Tigers, he will be far more than a curiosity. Sanders will be a disruptor.”

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Deion Sanders quickly made it clear why the University of Colorado chose him to be its next head football coach.

Coming off a weekend in which the four College Football Playoff teams were announced and all of the other bowl-eligible teams accepted their invitations, Colorado — which went 1-11 this past season — made news for hiring Sanders, the former NFL star who was phenomenally successful at Jackson State.

The media that covers college football and sports as a whole should be thrilled that the Buffaloes program decided to take a big leap for attention and notoriety. Sanders is a bold, risky hire. But he’s also been successful in virtually every venture he’s taken. “Primetime” had a Hall of Fame NFL career and also played Major League Baseball. And he’s a master at drawing attention to himself.

During his first meeting with his new team, Sanders made sure to mention that he has Louis Vuitton luggage to make the point that some of his Jackson State players are coming with him to Boulder — including his son, quarterback Shadeur Sanders. Nick Saban and Kirby Smart probably don’t cite luxury fashion when explaining to their players that they’ll have to compete for starting positions.

Coach Prime will not be boring to cover. (That self-appointed “Coach Prime” title, which was on his name plate at his introductory press conference, is a big clue there.) He never has been. This is a man who said during the 1989 NFL Draft, after being selected No. 5 overall by the Atlanta Falcons, that if the Detroit Lions had selected him at No. 3, he “would’ve asked for so much money, they’d have had to put me on layaway.”

Even if he doesn’t win as much as Colorado hopes, Sanders will pursue top talent — players who want to perform on a larger stage than the FCS-level Jackson State allows — and impact athletes will be attracted to him. He got the No. 1 recruit in the nation, cornerback and wide receiver Travis Hunter, to play for him. (Hunter is following his coach to Boulder.) Now that Sanders is at an FBS school in a Power 5 conference, more stars will surely come.

But if Coach Prime achieves the same sort of success that he did with the Tigers — going 27-5 in three seasons, including a 12-0 campaign in 2022 — he will be far more than a curiosity. Sanders will be a disruptor. And he’ll get the attention that such figures typically draw from media and fans. According to the Denver Post‘s Sean Keeler, at least 400 people attended what felt more like a celebration than a press conference.

Coach Prime wasn’t going to just win the press conference, which is what any school and fanbase want when a new coach is introduced.

If Colorado wanted someone to sit at a podium, and give platitudes like “We want to win the Pac-12 and get to the College Football Playoff,” “We’re going to build a program with young men you’ll be proud of,” or “It’s time to restore Colorado to the football glory we remember,” Sanders isn’t the guy for that.

“Do I look like a man that worries about anything? Did you see the way I walked in here? Did you see the swagger that was with me?” Sanders said during his introductory presser. “Worry? Baby, I am too blessed to be stressed. I have never been one for peer pressure. I put pressure on peers. I never wanted to worry, I make people worry. I don’t get down like that. I am too darn confident. That is my natural odor.”

To no surprise, Sanders announced his presence in Boulder with authority. He had cameras following him as he met with Colorado players for the first time. How many other coaches would have recorded what many would see as a private moment for posterity and post it online?

Sanders caused a stir by putting his players on notice. He warned them he was coming, telling them they’ll be pushed so hard they might quit. He told them to enter the transfer portal and go someplace else if they don’t like what he and his staff are going to do.

That candor, that brutal honesty surprised many fans and media when they saw it Monday morning. For some, that message might have felt too familiar. How many in media — or many other industries — have worried about their job status when a new boss takes over? What may have seemed secure days earlier is now uncertain.

But how do we know other coaches haven’t said something similar when taking over at a new job and addressing their team? We just hadn’t seen it before. But Sanders has been in the media. He knows social media. He understands controlling his own message and telling his story.

Sanders also knows what kind of value he brings to any venture he takes on. How many people would have left an NFL Network gig for Barstool Sports? But Sanders went to where his star would shine, where he was the main show, where he could be Deion Sanders. Maybe he’ll have to turn that down just a bit at Colorado. But athletic director Rick George knows who he hired.

Colorado could have made a safer choice, including previous head coaches Tom Herman, Bronco Mendenhall, or Gary Patterson. A top assistant from one of this year’s Playoff contenders — such as Georgia’s Todd Monken, USC’s Alex Grinch, Alabama’s Bill O’Brien, or Michigan’s Sherrone Moore — could also have been an option.

But what fun would that have been? What kind of tremor would Colorado have created in the college football news cycle? How much attention would a more conventional hire have received? Yes, Sanders has to recruit and win. However, if the objective was to make Colorado football a talking point again, that’s been accomplished.

There could be some friction too. Sanders has already been criticized for being a champion of HBCUs, only to bolt for a mainstream Power 5 program when the opportunity opened. (To be fair, other columnists have defended the move.)

At Jackson State, Sanders tried to control local media when he didn’t like how reporters were addressing him or covering a story. Last year during Southwestern Athletic Conference Media Day, he balked at a Clarion-Ledger reporter addressing him as “Deion,” not “Coach,” insisting that Nick Saban would’ve been shown that respect. Earlier this season, Sanders admonished a school broadcaster (and assistant athletic director) for speaking to him more formally on camera than he did off-camera.

Will that fly among Boulder and Denver media, or the national college football press? It’s difficult to imagine. Maybe Sanders will ease back on his efforts to control reporters within a larger university environment, metropolitan area, and media market. But we’re also talking about Deion Sanders here. He doesn’t bend to outside forces. He makes them bend to him.

Sanders’ stint in Boulder — whether it lasts the five years of his contract and beyond, or less than that — will not be dull. There could be no better gift for the media covering Colorado football. Or college football, a sport already full of bold personalities, eccentric to unhinged fanbases, and outsized expectations. Coach Prime will fit right in.

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