Keeler: Deion Sanders is a false prophet. CU Buffs? College Football Playoffs? I’ll have what Coach Prime’s smoking

Keeler: Deion Sanders is a false prophet. CU Buffs? College Football Playoffs? I’ll have what Coach Prime’s smoking

Deion Sanders is a false prophet, the Bruce Lee of B.S., Harold Hill in designer shades. He’s also in the wrong business.

If Coach Prime wanted to run for governor, he’d kill it. Rallies for breakfast. Adoring fans for miles. No NCAA. No recruiting rules. No pesky Washington States to hammer you senseless in the cold. No Stanford to hand you a hubris sandwich. No scoreboard staring back with an inconvenient truth you can’t bend to fit the company narrative.

“Yeah, most definitely,” he told Fox Sports’ Skip Bayless last week when asked if his 4-8 CU Buffs were ready to crash the College Football Playoffs in 2024. “Shoot, I believe, man.

“I don’t just wear this on my shirt and on my chest. I truly believe that what we have in-house (is enough). Last year, (Keyshawn Johnson) watched all these games. We were seven points away from a multitude of wins, probably seven or eight more wins. We just didn’t know how to win.”

I watched all those games, too. Prime’s Buffs were 0-5 in Pac-12 tilts decided by seven points or fewer. They were 26 points away, in total, from flipping a 1-8 conference mark into 6-3 — so, five more net wins.

I mean, almost a multitude. A near-multitude.

Which, if you’re curious, still won’t get your ticket punched for the CFP. Since the Big 12 did away with divisions in determining who made its championship game in 2017, no team in a non-pandemic season has played for the league title with more than two conference losses on its resume.

Huckstery for survival is instinctive. Huckstery with conviction is a gift. Sanders can sell ice to a penguin and leave you counting sunburns on a rainy day.

“But several of those games, we can’ve won those games,” the Buffs’ second-year coach said to Bayless.

“We can’ve really been — definitely a bowl team, but we can’ve been someone who made a lot of noise. We made noise. But now, (we’re) gonna make some sounds.”

Heck, yeah, they will. Loud ones. Although how much of that din gets taken seriously depends on a three-week, season-opening stretch that kicks off with North Dakota State, Team Trap Game, at Folsom Field. The Shedeur Sanders Farewell Tour then sashays into the friendly confines of Lincoln (Nebraska) and Fort Collins (CSU).

Anybody who sets the bar higher than eight wins is trying to take your money. Or your soul.

And speaking of money, did you happen to check out CU’s 2022-23 fiscal report to the NCAA? It’s a doozy. The more scraps that trickle out, the more the Buffs’ sheer desperation some 13-14 months ago gets laid bare.

According to the fiscal year that ended this past June 30, despite a summery, persistent Chip Diller — “Remain calm, all is well” — vibe from Camp Prime, CU’s athletic department wound up roughly $9 million in the red.

The blood was on several hands, in retrospect, none of them shockers. Former Pac-12 commish Larry Scott’s “Scott’s Tots” of a channel, the Pac-12 Network, cost CU least $6 million due to Comcast shenanigans. The Buffs also had to account for $7.32 million owed — Sanders stripped the CU football staff to the bone before he did the same with his roster — in severance payments to Karl Dorrell, a 2020 hire, and his former assistants.

But perhaps the most curious line in the report, at least to some academics in and around BoCo, was the one marked “direct institutional support.” In layman’s terms, that includes state funds, tuition, tuition discounts, etc. — some of your dollars at work.

Nice work if you get it, too. CU athletics collected $27.8 million in direct institutional support from the university proper over the ’22-23 fiscal. That was a whopping jump of $19.8 million over the department’s $8.02 million take in institutional support in its ’21-22 report — in fact, over the previous nine CU budgets, that total had never exceeded $9.01 million in any given cycle.

The Buffs’ institutional buffer was reportedly the second-largest in the country among public Power 5 schools had data on for ’22-23, trailing only future Big 12 rival Cincinnati ($35.529 million).

“It’s fairly rare for a Power 5 (program) to be losing that amount of money. That’s unusual and problematic,” Victor Matheson, an economics professor at Holy Cross and a Boulder native, told me last week.

“Institutional support means you’re losing money, you’re covering up money with redirected money that can go to whatever. … It can’ve been directed at (university) housing, it can’ve been directed at the law school, take your choice.

“That’s not great at all. However, I think we all understand the difference between what was going on in the (fall) of 2022 and what was going on in September 2023 is a world of difference.”

As the Prime Time hype train left the station, The Buffs sold out every home game — heck, even a spring game — while donations to the Buff Club ($28 million in FY ’23, reportedly), ticket sales and merchandise sales exploded. CU can argue, and justifiably, that the Buffs had to spend money to start making more of it. Although …

“While the rest of the university kicked in ($27.8 million) to subsidize the athletic program when things were bad,” Matheson noted with a chuckle, “it’s very unlikely we’re going to see the athletic department take any (’23-24) profit and kick it back to the university.”

False prophets or false profits? Either way, talk is cheap. I’d run through a wall for Deion. But only if that wall was made of foam bricks and broken promises.

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