BOULDER—The Colorado Buffaloes were on the verge of having their best year since the memorable 2001 season, but Deion Sanders didn’t think that was good enough.
The first-year head coach of the Buffs demoted Sean Lewis to coordinator this weekend, and Coach Prime’s smart response was to promote offensive lineman Pat Shurmur. The failed NFL coach is known for running one of the most boring offenses in all of the sport’s history and was a fixture in Boulder ahead of the Buffaloes’ showdown with Oregon State on Saturday. In Shurmur’s first title, he fulfilled his calling card and unleashed an upset.
The smelly giant led the No. 16 Beavers beat the Buffaloes 26-19. Colorado rallied back a bit for respectability, scoring 14 in the fourth quarter. Most of CU’s yards, 160 of its 238 total and scores came after the game was over.
“It’s tough, so it’s tough because we know we can play well, coach well, and we’re missing when we have enough to do the job,” Sanders said. “It hurts, it hurts, the team, the coaches, the fans, it hurts, we were united at the end and we didn’t give up.”
Lewis’ drop in the middle of the week was surprising because Colorado scored 227 points through 6.5 games, or about 35 minutes in 60 minutes. Of course, things turned sour soon as Colorado scored only 30 points in 21 possessions since leading Stanford 29-0 at halftime, still it was amazing. And the Buffaloes bounced back Saturday night, though they may blame it on Shedeur Sanders.
“We’re not going to humiliate Sean Lewis, we’re not going to do this or listen,” Sanders said. “He’s a good guy, I think he’s a good player. We just needed to change at that time. We just needed to try something else at that time. That’s what we did and I don’t look back or compare myself. There’s more to it than you might know. So let’s just trust the process.”
Sanders didn’t elaborate on the details, focusing only on how his son was beaten or how many opportunities he’s had to shine since Pac-12 play. Sanders still had 245 yards against the Beavers, more than Colorado as a team.
Lewis, 37, left his teaching gig at Kent State to become the highest-paid assistant in CU history. Sanders gave him a three-year, $2.7 million contract last season and his offense rose from CU’s third-worst last season to 32nd in the nation this week.
Meanwhile, Shurmur, 58, was brought in this summer as an analyst and had been out of the game since he was fired by the Denver Broncos for leading a bad offense in the 2020 and 2021 seasons. A familiar behavior from the head coach of the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.
Sanders he really struggled to explain the move and more about the Buffs being pressured into his team’s game.
“It has a lot to do – and it’s a big question – it’s not that, it’s called and doing the game and that’s what and the time of the game that’s called and that’s what and the thoughts that come from these things. – a lot goes after that,” said Sanders. “You people are only seeing what you see, you’re missing a lot of the unseen things that went into getting us in this situation right now.”
What we did see was Shurmur’s start, which included two drives in which Colorado failed to gain more than 26 yards. The Buffs had seven punts including a forced late-half drive due to poor clock management. CU held the ball at their own four-yard line with one minute left and held it for 28 seconds. That led to a 33-yard punt return and one play that started in the red, black and gold zone. It would be one goal that could separate the two teams on the night.
“I don’t reveal all my thoughts, my feelings and my thoughts. I won’t reveal when I make a decision,” Prime said. “Just know that I’ve made a decision and I’m not stumbling or stuttering. I’m not looking back, that’s how it is and that’s how it’s going to be. I made a decision to help this team win. You guys don’t know what’s in it, you’re just looking out of bed. I’ve got the windows rolled up and you can’t see in the house but you’re thinking about what I should or shouldn’t do.”
Sanders obviously came to our home in Colorado probably not knowing about Shurmur’s failures in Denver. Prime said he didn’t want to use the word demotion because everyone was still making the same amount of money but it was moving around the staff. He was again forced to change and for the first time in his CU tenure he continued to provide real information on a questionable decision.
“You know what we’ve been doing all year? We’re in a big meeting room, all these guys are in the room (sic) Coach Shurmur has been a big influence in telling things all season long, that hasn’t changed,” he said. “Now you just have a big influence not just to give ideas but to call them. These things don’t change, they are still a team effort. It’s not one person doing good or bad, it’s a team effort the last time I watched it. So we will be doing what is best to win. Both of these guys are talented men, they can both contribute a lot. You’re looking at two guys with two different credentials and it’s amazing. A guy who has gotten almost 30 years from the pros and another college guy, that’s an amazing look. You need some smart training, good question. “
Of Colorado’s 19 points, two came from PAT returns and three came on plays from five plays that started in extra time. Prior to Saturday’s worst scoring performance for the home team was a 36-point day against Nebraska in the win.
Shurmur’s black and gold offense was synonymous with orange and blue, ugly and boring. When CU took a step back, Sanders didn’t elaborate on why the Buffs felt it was necessary to make the change.
As for the hot young catcher in Lewis, who may have been Colorado’s best player in over a decade. He’s already helped Prime bring in the big names of the future and won big this season for his son and the team – he was embarrassed this week and took it down, no matter what Deion says.