Jackson State coach Deion Sanders has been preparing to make an exit in order to take the head coaching job at Colorado, sources told ESPN on Friday.
An announcement is expected late Saturday or early Sunday, sources told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg.
With Jackson State on the cusp of the SWAC title game Saturday, Sanders and his associates have spent the week making inquiries to both potential members of his on-field staff and support staff at Colorado, pitching them to join him in Boulder, sources said.
A source told ESPN on Friday night that Sanders’ outreach included a call to a prominent player in the NCAA transfer portal, encouraging him to not make a decision because Sanders was heading to Colorado and wanted to recruit him there.
A different source close to a player committed to play at Colorado said that earlier this week a current Jackson State staff member called to check in on the player’s Colorado commitment. He also asked him for some film of the player to evaluate him.
“They weren’t exactly hiding anything,” said the source. “It seemed like it was a done deal.”
Internally at Colorado, according to sources, the support staff has been seen preparing material for Sanders’ hire. There’s a widespread expectation in the building that Sanders will arrive there this weekend, although the staff has not been told formally.
“They’re not doing a great job of hiding this,” said a staff source. “If he backs out of this deal, it would be a huge problem for Colorado.”
Colorado’s board of regents called a special meeting for Sunday at 12 p.m. ET as a placeholder of sorts, as it would only take place if Colorado and Sanders figure out the details of his contract. Sanders is expected to fly in after Jackson State’s game.
Sanders has said publicly that he’s been offered the Colorado job. All signs point to him accepting it in the next 48 hours, as all the other candidates Colorado has engaged have been stalled after interviewing weeks ago.
Sanders has gone 26-5 his past three seasons at Jackson State and 22-2 the past two years. Jackson State (11-0) plays Southern (7-4), a team it beat 35-0 earlier in the year, for the SWAC title Saturday. Sanders is expected to inform his team that he’s leaving soon after the game.
Sanders is in just his third season as a college football coach.
Colorado fired Karl Dorrell in October after an 0-5 start and an 8-15 record overall in three years as coach. Mike Sanford filled in as interim and went 1-6 to close the year.
Sanders is an iconic American athlete and a member of both the Pro Football and College Football Hall of Fame. He played in the NFL for 14 seasons, won two Super Bowls and also played for five different Major League Baseball teams from 1989 through 2001.