Why Hugh Freeze, not Deion Sanders, has the more repeatable approach to rebuilding a roster
I might not totally agree with how blunt Deion Sanders can be, but I completely understand his approach at Colorado. He inherited arguably the worst Power 5 roster. The Buffaloes were dead last in America in scoring defense. In fact, they were a full 8 points worse than the next-closest Power 5 team, Arizona, in that department. To make matters worse, they were No. 127 in FBS in scoring offense and they were No. 125 in yards/play.
Oh, and just in case that wasn’t enough, Colorado has been to 1 bowl game in the past 15 seasons. It’s almost impossible to be that bad at the Power 5 level, and yet, the Buffs might’ve been at their absolute worst in a 1-11 season that saw them fail to win a game in regulation (a 20-13 overtime win vs. 4-win California was the lone victory of the season).
You’d better believe that roster was worthy of getting gutted.
Play Underdog For Heat-Celtics Game 6! Who ya got?
Could anyone have expected that a whopping 57 Colorado players would enter the portal after Sanders took over? Nope. That’s unprecedented.
So does that mean Sanders has the new model for a Year 1 rebuild? Not at all. Hugh Freeze has a much more repeatable approach to that.
Colorado is 1 of 1 right now. It had a Power 5 athletic director who made an atypical move to hire a coach from the HBCU ranks who then got his blessing to use the portal in ways we’ve never seen during its brief history. Colorado did that because of that aforementioned bowl drought and because it ranked No. 63 in the 247sports talent composite rankings in 2022. There were just 3 players ranked as former 4-star recruits on the roster. At Jackson State, Sanders had 13, including former No. 1 overall recruit Travis Hunter, who followed his coach to Boulder.
The only Power 5 programs that ranked lower than Colorado in the talent composite rankings were Duke, Syracuse, Kansas State, Kansas, Wake Forest and Washington State, which was the only one with fewer than 3 former 4-star recruits.
What am I saying? Very few teams, if any, start where Colorado was.
Much more likely is that a team is starting off where Auburn is. Hugh Freeze needed to rely heavily on the portal in order to improve in Year 1 after Bryan Harsin’s staff struggled in that area, as well as developing the blue-chip recruits they did get.
Auburn went into 2022 ranked No. 18 in the 247sports talent composite with 33 former 4-star recruits. Since the end of the regular season window, Freeze had 20 players enter the portal. That’s a ton, but it’s not 57. Why? The cupboard wasn’t bare. Even a 5-7 team had plenty of guys who were still worthy of staying on the roster. Freeze did dip into the portal plenty, too. As of May 17, he added 19 transfers.
Freeze saw an obvious need to improve on the offensive line, so he went to the Group of 5 ranks and got 3 multi-year starters who should step in and be immediate starters. He was clear that receiver depth was lacking, so he went out and landed 3 coveted transfers. And instead of trusting that the talented but developing Robby Ashford was going to be his unquestioned starter just because he held that role with the previous regime, Freeze added a multi-year Power 5 starter in Payton Thorne.
In any given year, a new coach at the Power 5 level should be able to check all of those boxes. With the ability for undergraduate transfers to play immediately, that’s exactly how a Year 1 coach should approach roster rebuilding.
If you take the Sanders approach at a place like LSU, imagine the bridges burned for high school coaches in that state. Even if that type of approach was taken to a place where the talent pool isn’t as deep like Wisconsin, you’d be spitting in the face of the development for one of the best offensive line pipelines in the sport.
For what it’s worth, that’s before you factor in the NIL-invested boosters who probably wouldn’t take too kindly to backing a new coach, only to watch their investment get flushed down the toilet in a total roster overhaul.
Maybe you can find a handful of desperate programs that would embrace a total gut job like the one Sanders executed, but that list is shorter than you think. It certainly doesn’t include programs that consistently pull in top-30 classes, which is nearly half of the Power 5. There’s cleaning that up, and there’s totally undoing that. Sanders’ approach would be the latter, and very few places need a clean sweep. At least not to that extreme.
It’s funny because when Harsin was fired at Auburn, Sanders was among the splashy candidates being linked to the job. We don’t know if his “I’ve got my own luggage” approach would’ve been implemented at Auburn, or if it was that plan that perhaps prevented him from being considered.
What we do know is that Sanders’ approach is unprecedented. The word “unprecedented” seems to be a theme for his roster-building strategy, even while he was at Jackson State. We asked after Hunter’s commitment if it was about to become the norm to see HBCU’s poach 5-star recruits, or if it was just because of Sanders’ larger than life persona.
So far, it’s unfair to say that anyone can follow the Sanders model. He won’t be for everyone, but clearly, he’ll be that guy for plenty.
Just don’t assume that his way becomes the way to rebuild a Power 5 program.
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Florida with Billy Napier will take over being the old Colorado.
Two wins baby !
Don’t bet your food money on that forecast. You may have to disappear back under the lake and go hungry for a while.
I basically make about $14,000 to $18,000 a month online. It’s enough to comfortably replace my old jobs income, especially considering s12 I only work about 10-13 hours a week from home. I was amazed how easy it was after I tried it copy below web…
So happy for you. Now, SDS can take your comment down!
I’m not sure why a writer or fan would have Napier for a hero or villain either one. To me he looks like he’s doing the diligence coaches do in their build up years and fans just have to wait to see what his ceiling is. Some fans alternate between reading football stories and comic books I guess?
wolfman…Has Drink already reached his ceiling at Mizzou ? The odds are that he has.
I think if you want to say Drink didn’t bring in a complete and ready experienced staff in year one, nobody could argue that. It’s an unrealistic expectation for a first year head coach in a new program. At the end of year one Drink made. an A+ staff change and the result was overwhelmingly good. In year two Drinkwitz made two major changes, one at the beginning and one at the end. If these changes have the same impacts, the record and scores will easily show it.
I’m seeing zero odds that Missouri doesn’t improve some in 2023. What could limit that improvement would be if he hired someone who can’t recruit or train attacking side of the ballers. So is he a good judge of that or not?, well he showed that he can design his own good plan of attack. What he could not do was be a HC AND AND OC at the same time. How much of that was just being in Year Two? Most head coaches use a DC and a OC so the odds are convincing that Year 3 is a big improvement for Drink…. You can hope his OC decision is not as good as his DC choice but there’s no evidence of that.
I’m looking forward to your redaction Gaga.
“So far, it’s unfair to say that anyone can follow the Sanders model. He won’t be for everyone, but clearly, he’ll be that guy for plenty.”
Prime will not stay in CO for more than 3 years. He’ll be successful for CO.
Coach Freeze will build the program at AU and has a proven track record. Oh and he’s beaten Saban twice.
At least Prime has something of a personality, the excitement around Florida right now is at an all time low.
The fans are dreading the inevitable losses and embarrassment that’s going to be on the field playing this quarterback position.
The biggest question is how long will it take Billy to acknowledge the two losers he got from the portal are just that and how long will he keep playing them. My guess eventually he’ll bring someone in just to hand the ball off or just put a running back under center.
Sure hope we have the best punter in the entire NCAA because we’re going to need him
You really are a one-note wonder gaga. Even replying to comments having nothing to do with your only note, you feel the need to blow your horn.
This guy has got to be an FSU fan, he sounds like some of the ones I know that have blinders on.
“It’s funny because when Harsin was fired at Auburn, Sanders was among the splashy candidates being linked to the job. ”
I think Prime is headed to FSU at some point. I’m glad AU passed on him simply because I think he would have left AU for FSU.
I agree with a lot of people that think his next stop is the NFL. He’s got no where to go but up at Colorado. 2-3 years and he’ll be on the short list for the Cowboys or Saints.
Would it really matter where Sanders went? Point is he would not have considered AU as anything other than a stepping stone to another job.
I think he’ll go to the NFL but I think will start off as some kind of assistant coach. It takes a bit of success to move from college HC to NFL HC. Some of the best college HC’s fell flat when they got to the NFL. I think he’s way too inexperienced for a HC’ing gig in the NFL and still has to establish himself as a good power 5 HC. I mean look at Napier. Nothing but impressed at his lower conference school but has struggled at UF. Deion has some really good players for the level conference that Jackson State plays in. Talent that could play at many power 5 schools. But starting where Colorado was starting out? He’s going to need to lean on his coaching staff more so than he did at Jackson state. I also don’t get the sense he’ll be at Colorado very long, win big or only slightly improve.
Sanders will never be an assistant coach. Too much ego.
Assistant Coach Deion Sanders just does not a ring to it. A ego as big as his would not ever allow such a thing. Let’s face it…Deion Sanders at Colorado is a College Coaching Experiment, nothing more. we’ll see in 2 years if it’s successful.
I think Coach Sanders goal is and always has been FSU. I think thays why he got into college coaching. I really haven’t seen anything that indicates he’s interested in the NFL at all. Even a moderately successful turnaround at Colorado (i.e. consistent bowl eligibility) puts him in great position to get there sooner or later, depending on the trajectory of the current staff.
I agree with the above comments the Sanders won’t be at Colorado for very long. That program is clearly a stepping stone for him, but I also suspect that he might actually help improve Colorado during his time there. For an outsider’s perspective, it sounds like they were more in need of a quick and hard demolition to jumpstart their rebuild.
Colorado has nowhere to go but up. They certainly needed Deon more than he needed them.
Sanders will do good for the Buffs. A winning season and bowls here and there. FSU comes calling,, he’s gone. College is where he should stay, he will never fill the shoes of the NFL. Those players are not impressed with the flash, the dress and mouth. Kids are at this time and we shall see 5 years down the road. The recruiting success he’s had will not stay if he doesn’t win.
With the transfer portal, these are clearly “Deion’s guys” so there won’t be the typical “3 to 4 years to grow” philosophy. It’s exciting! We’ve seen him recruit well and now we’ll see if he can coach a winning season at the Division I level.
Even in the Pac 12, a winning season in the first year, right out of the CFB basement, is a huge ask… even for Primetime.
I wonder why the media has mostly been silent regarding Colorado’s unprecedented roster turnover.
Do you think every coach would get the same silence from the media if this happened at a different school?
Hmm…what could the reason be that coach prime is virtually unscathed?
Deion basically ran off half the Colorado team and brought many of his Jackson State players, plus his son the Quarterback with him. He treated the team as if he were a Doctor cutting out cancer to save the patient’s life.
Hugh Freeze has been a college football coach much longer than Deion & understands what a “clean-em-out” approach might do the the team’s remaining members. Hugh Freeze will have a much more stable transition to rebuilding the Auburn Tigers football program. Freeze got his Quarterback and Auburn will improve in 2023. A head coach cannot totally rebuild the team in only one(1) year and Freeze understands that.
Sanders MAY have some success at CU because there’s no where else to go but up.
Crash and burn after that though…Too much ego/bs.
Freeze could do well at Auburn if they don’t fire him after year 2.
AU is not firing Coach Freeze.
Over/Under is ~3.5 years.
Auburn made the right call to let Harsin go, even if only after two seasons. He’s just not a fit for the SEC, and didn’t seem interested in adapting. Very odd.
Yeah, why did they hire him in the first place?
“Yeah, why did they hire him in the first place?”
Same reason UGA hired Ray Goff in the 80s, dumb asss. It was a mistake.
Not the same at all the same.
Goff is a DGD and went 9-3 and 10-2 in ’92 and ’93.
Y’all didn’t give Harsin a chance in Hades to do anything…besides to try to ruin his reputation. No wonder you didn’t get any results.
Sounds like Auburn is the dumb asss…
The Hugh Freeze method was cars, weed, and women. But since you geniuses decided that players should be paid, they get those for themselves. Hugh can probably lose that shiny new burner phone he got.
MEon is a fraud, on and off the field.
“If you want something you have never had, you must do something you have never done.” Thomas Jefferson
The current roster and staff have not had success at CU. So Sanders is showing the courage to do something that has never been done to get there. Yet you criticize him for it and pretend there’s a parallel to a team with multiple national title game appearances in recent history, and players who have won games.
I’m not sure what your point is. “It’s risky.” Doing the same-old same-old and staying in the university/athletic department/booster comfort zone isn’t working. It’s time to take risks!