Deion Sanders’ roster approach criticized by another high-profile coach
Deion Sanders’ overhaul of the Colorado Buffaloes’ roster has been controversial since he took over as the school’s head coach earlier this year. Another coach has joined those criticizing that approach.
Oklahoma coach Brent Venables told student-run television station OUNightlySports that he gave players a “grace” year to get accustomed to the challenges and standards of his program. He contrasted that approach with Sanders, who Venables said “gave guys a bunch of pink slips” upon arriving at Colorado.
“We’re another year in establishing our standards and our culture and our values. That matters. A year ago, I challenged the guys. I wasn’t like Deion that gave guys a bunch of pink slips,” Venables said, via David Ubben of The Athletic. “I gave guys 12 months of grace to go to class, live right off the field and show up with a great urgency and respect for your opportunity at the University of Oklahoma.”
In a separate interview, Venables told KREF that, unlike Sanders, he offered players “12 months of grace” and then helped 21 players move on after the season.
“I gave guys 12 months of grace. I was unlike Deion,” Venables said. “I gave guys 12 months of grace to figure it out. Here’s three: Go to class, live right off the field and when you show up here you show up with respect and appreciation with your opportunity. And if you go 0-for-3 for 12 months, you need a fresh start, so we helped 21 guys, give or take, find a fresh start.”
Venables clearly wants to be the anti-Sanders here. Sanders’ approach has been to essentially push out players he does not feel are good enough and use the transfer portal to bring in their replacements. Venables is hardly the only coach to criticize this, but Sanders has stood firm in his approach.
Venables went an underwhelming 6-7 in his first season with the Sooners. Sanders would probably point to that as evidence that Oklahoma’s approach did not bear fruit, though Colorado will have to succeed in 2023 to prove Sanders right.