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Dan McNeil Q&A Part 2: It Was Going To Be Uncomfortable

“I didn’t want to be around people. I was not feeling anything. There was a joylessness in almost everything.”

Matt Fishman

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In part two of my Q&A with Chicago Sports Radio veteran Dan McNeil, Dan talks about his second stint at The Score, dealing with mental health issues and his eight year run at ESPN 1000. You’ll read about the intriguing maneuvering it took to get his show at ESPN. Plus, you’ll hear inside details of the building of “Mac, Jurko, and Harry” and the show’s early growing pains. It’s all here in Part 2 of my three-part Q&A with Dan McNeil. 

The Danny Mac Show on the Score (June 2009-June 2014)

Fishman: You return to the Score after more than eight years away at ESPN 1000…how did it feel? 

McNeil: It was a very awkward return. I had decent relationships with some of the guys there, still, but I think they were very casual relationships. I think there was a mutual feeling with a few people that if we didn’t work together again that would be ok with everybody. There was a lot of tension already at the station.

Before Matt (Spiegel) and I jumped back in, there was a long period of dissention among the ranks. I can’t give an opinion on it because I wasn’t there to absorb all the toxicity, but the combination of North, Murphy, Mulligan and Boers made for a very volatile cocktail. As there always is, there’s some petty jealousies and we’re all insecure to varying degrees, but based on the descriptions of those who experienced it, I came back at a time when the morale was probably as low as it ever had been in station history.

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Matt (Spiegel) was not warmly received. The fact that Mitch (Score Ops Manager/PD Mitch Rosen) gave me a voice in Spiegel’s hiring didn’t help the situation. Mitch also gave me a voice in one of the producers. That didn’t agree with several people. I get that. People who are in-house have every reason to expect that they will be examined, but I also had a track record of making some pretty good recommendations both for co-hosts and producers. I’d submit Jurko as one of those, and god damn, look at the guys who have produced my shows over the years who I’ve hand picked–there’s some pretty talented mother f**kers on that list. If the fact that I was given that freedom was disruptive for some people, I really don’t give a shit, Colonel Jessup. I earned that. I f**king earned that!

They just didn’t give me that. Had Terry Boers flopped in ‘92 and John Jurkovic flopped I wouldn’t have been given a voice, but I did get a voice. I was proven right with Matt (Spiegel) but he was not well received. So it was an awkward return.

Leaving the house at 7 o’clock in the morning to go to work didn’t agree with me. I felt we had a pretty good vibe on the show. Matt and I pretty much right out of the shoot I felt pretty comfortable with and after awhile as a unit we gelled. I told Matt at the beginning I typically look at these things as “let’s do five years together!” I think after five years is a lot of times a good time to reinvent yourself. And that’s what I decided to do. 

The first two and half years were very good. The last (with Spiegel) was a struggle. I made it more of a struggle than I needed it to be, because I was not taking very good care of myself. I was not participating in a mental health program that somebody with as many issues as I have needs to.

Fish: I think you have to include the talent on the major decisions of co-host and producer when you’re putting that team together. Otherwise I think you’re asking for failure. 

Mac: When I took some time off, Fish, I thought a lot about this– and I had a lot of time off in the last five or six years. I enjoyed civilian life way more than most of us would. It’s incredible how among any form of entertainment that you can imagine–the movies, music, whatever–radio people and sports talk radio performers have less control of their product than any motherf**ker trying to sell a f**kin’ act. I had shows blown up that none of us wanted blown up. Many others have had shows blown up. 

Howard (Stern) is a hero to me because he’s the only motherf**ker who went out there and won. A lot of us have been paid well and it’s a rush and you do a lot of cool things. If you’re lucky you see a lot of the country and someone else pays for it–and that’s all great, but when you examine the absence of power for people who have achieved a high level of competency in their craft it’s remarkable how we’re all just f**king pawns on a chess board. Howard has been able to go out there and pick his own crew and say “f**k you!” to management for 25 years. 

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Fish: At what point did you realize that you weren’t taking care of your mental health? Was it while you were working with Spiegel? Was there a seminal moment? 

Mac: It was very specific. It was in the summer of 2011. The two years of foolishly letting the behaviors and attitudes of others affect my disposition–which is absolutely hideous to let others rent that space for free. I went off my psych med, Lamictal, without consulting my doctor. I had a lot of success with that product. It’s not an antidepressant it’s kind of a mood stabilizer. It’s prescribed to people who are depressive, some people with anxiety–and I’m both of those.

I went off of it and within a month my world got black and white. I was playing free golf with three lifelong friends and I birdied the first hole. While walking back to the cart on a gorgeous summer day I remember saying to myself, “Thank God there are only 17 more of these f**king holes so I can go home, be alone, and watch Goodfellas.” I withdrew from even the things I enjoyed the most. Except for my sons and a few very close friends and my wife, I didn’t want to be around people. I was not feeling anything. There was a joylessness in almost everything. 

The climate at the station I let get to me more than I should have. I should have focused on what was good and what was good was the vibe on the show–with Spiegs and Jay and Shep and Miska. Then Ben Finfer rejoined me which has always been some of the best radio I have done. 

So that was a rough time. I grinded it out without going back on my med and continuing to eat pain meds which dulled me. I like to stay active and I have a lot of pain and I used those things as an excuse to keep eating Narco. It was a pretty dark last couple of years. I didn’t want to be there (at The Score). I wanted to try something different anyway but the climate there and how little I was respecting my conditions wasn’t a good time.

But we did some killer stuff. I remember a lot of it with fondness. I mean the stuff we did with the Blackhawks–Spiegs and I went to Philly and Boston.

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In ‘13 when the Hawks were getting to the final against Boston I felt we were being a little too “hockey-ish” on the show. I learned from my mistakes in the 90s that hockey is not as center stage as other things in Chicago, but I said to myself I’m probably walking very soon. This is my way to thank the Hawks fans who loved me all the years. F**k the ratings. If I want to talk to Mike Emrick for an hour, I will and we did. We ended up out of the money (ratings bonuses) that book and I didn’t give a shit. 

I ended up leaving in the summer of ‘14 after the Hawks got popped by the Kings in the Western Conference Finals.  If they had made it to the Final, I was going to work without a contract and finish the Hawks run but I wasn’t gonna come back. I was pretty specific with Mitch (Rosen) about that. People remember it as my summer of discontent. Spiegel calls it “The Summer of Uncertainty.” I corrected him on that and said “remember when I walked in that June and gave anyone parting gifts?” 

Mitch called me right before I crossed the border (into Canada) and lost cell service. He said, “We gotta work this out.” I said, “Mitch, it has been a month and I want to try something different. What’s there to work out?”

So when I got back from Canada in mid August I met with him and Rod (Zimmermann, CBS Radio Market Manager for Chicago at the time) as a courtesy. They offered me a lot of money–more than they had offered me in the middle of June. It was a fair-enough deal. There was no indecisiveness that summer. Without another job offer I said thank you, politely, but I’m going to try something different. 

Mac, Jurko and Harry (May 2001-Jan 2009)

Fish: It seemed to me like an interesting mix–you, Jurko and Harry. Can you talk about the grouping, how it all came together, and the early days of the show?  

Mac: Mitch and I started talking about it right before I resigned from The Score. Bob Snyder was the GM of ESPN 1000 at the time. He was pretty committed to Bill Simonson and Lou Canellis, but Mitch told me he would work him (Snyder) and I decided I would roll dice in October of ‘00. I resigned from The Score with a “maybe” that Mitch would have a spot for me once Simonson and Canellis continued to struggle against The Score.

So I leave The Score and finally Bob Snyder warms up. I had to use (Mike) Greenberg to get to Len Weiner (ESPN Network PD at the time) in Bristol to backdoor my way into Chicago. I needed an ally in Bristol. Greenberg set up a meeting with Len Weiner and me at Super Bowl 35 in Tampa. (Dan remembers the game like it was yesterday saying, “SB 35 Ravens over the Giants, Ray Lewis the Super Bowl MVP. Only Super Bowl with back to back kick returns for touchdowns–Dixon and Lewis. You can look it up!”)

I go down there on a recruiting trip and Len Weiner and I chew the fat for three hours talking radio after the “Mike and Mike Show” and fell in love. I started doing weekends out there to prove to the network that I’m not a crazy man for walking away from 200k at The Score with a rep for being a rabble rouser and that I’m worth hiring. 

Eventually when (Ron) Gleason got fired by The Score I used that to pry my way in at ESPN. I said, “The guy who is taking over wants to hire me back.” I told Len that. There was some grains of truth of that because (Jeff) Schwartz was taking over. Schwartz might have taken me back. I saw it as an opportunity to play a card that I may not have had, and I played it and immediately Bristol put the pressure on Snyder to hire me.

So “Mac, Jurko, and Harry” is born and Snyder wants to keep some of the station’s DNA intact. He puts Harry (Teinowitz) on the show with me and Jurko and I had never considered a 3-man weave for a show in my life. Immediately I curled up and thought it was going to be uncomfortable, in particular because I knew Harry was going to be more of a shooting guard than he was hired to be. He was described to me by the suits as a “tip-in” guy. The funny guy. The occasional guy.

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Well we know Harry. Harry grew into a role more like that, but initially, especially when Jurko started slow, Harry pounced on an opportunity to be more or a presence than I was comfortable with. So in those first few years we really suffered a LOT of growing pains as a show.

Fish: So when did it turn the corner from “growing pains” to when the show was really cooking?

Mac: It took Teinowitz several years to let this more of a desire to have a playground than a classroom sink in for me. I think Harry taught me after a number of months to lighten it up a little bit and I agreed that the easiest way to make people feel like they are welcomed warmly is to create a saloon atmosphere–so that’s what we started to call it. And while we had a lot of tension and fights, it was a place where people felt compelled to hang out.

They weren’t going to be lectured to. It wasn’t going to be “The Sermon on the Mount.” We weren’t going to tackle issues that were polarizing for half of a show like steroids or anything that got us too far away from an opportunity to laugh. We’ve decided to plant the flag in the ground that we were going to be the goofball show. 

Fish: So you weren’t going to get into Race issues and you’re not getting into the Steroid issues..

Mac: (Jumping in) No, No, we’re not getting into politics and we’re also going to get into other forms of entertainment and make casual sports fans feel welcomed. And eventually, women even came around to that show.

Fish: So you get cooking on that show and you’re a few months away from the end of a contract and you get pulled off the air? Were you surprised by that move? 

Mac: I wasn’t surprised. When we were told in December that we weren’t going to the Super Bowl I sort of sniffed it out. Advertising dollars were drying up because of the market. Everybody was taking hits. I mean it was a f**king depression in ‘08.

They decide they’re not sending us to the Super Bowl. I was not our literal union steward, that was Bruce (Levine), but when programming  had issues, the one who took those issues to management, Jim Pastor(GM) and Justin Craig(PD), was me. That meant being a dick to Justin. None of it was personal because I truly like him as a guy but he came in replacing (Jeff) Schwartz, shoving ESPN programming down our throats. Mandating things. In essence telling us, “Forget everything you’ve been doing. This is how we’re gonna do it. I’m gonna mold you into another “Mike and Mike.”

Now Justin did a lot of good things, too. He had an interview coach come in and do a seminar with us. My jaw dropped at how much we needed that. I’ve told Mitch how much we need that at the Score. He came in and did a three hour presentation on interviewing and I wish I would have had that seminar in 1992.

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Fish: What were the biggest things you took away from that interviewing seminar?

Mac: In key interviews, not regular contributors you talk to every week, but when you get a guy on you’ll only talk to 1-2 times a year, a key interview–ask short direct questions! People want to hear from him. I got the rest of the f**king show where I can give my opinion. I don’t need to give him my opinion. Get his opinion. Get him talking! It’s what he’s going to say. It’s not going to be some brilliant way I shape a question. It’s what I’m going to get him to talk about. So ask a short, direct question. The biggest offense that most of us make are the double barrel and triple barrel questions-where you give your guest complete control of the interview. He picks one of the questions to answer and talks for three minutes and you’ve lost the time for a good follow up question. 

In part three of my Q&A with Dan McNeil, Mac talks about the start of The Score in 1992, his partnership with Terry Boers and his longtime friendship with the late Doug Buffone. 

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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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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