February 21, 2024

Media Day Pack 12: Colorado DC Charles Kelly talks the similarities between Nick Saban and Deion Sanders

Charles Kelly’s last two employers, Colorado defensive coordinator, happen to be two of the biggest names college football. Kelly was assistant defensive coordinator under Nick Saban from 2019-22 before being hired by Deion Sanders entering this season. even though filled in for Sanders at Pac-12 Media Day on Friday, Kelly was asked to compare the two.

“There are a lot more similarities between coach Saban and [Deion Sanders] than there are differences,” Kelly told reporters Friday. “When I say that, I always say this first: They’re both very good men. They have a conviction. When they believe in something, they fight for it. That’s the sign of a good person. And they tell you the truth – not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. They are very similar in that aspect.”

“They have a way of setting the standard. They’re not going to deviate from that standard. The standard is the standard. So they’re not going to come off. Everyone who works for them is going to be the same way. So when the standard is the standard, you’re a leader, and you bring people to that standard, that’s how you raise your program. Those are the similarities I see between a coach and a coach.”

While Sanders has a long way to go to reach the seven national championships on Saban’s resume, he surpassed what he accomplished at Jackson State with no prior college coaching experience. The Tigers were 27-6 under Sanders’ watch, winning back-to-back SWAC titles.

Sanders also made his mark on the recruiting trail. Despite the Tigers sitting atop the FCS ranks, he notably landed the No. 1 overall recruit. 1 in the country for the 2022 cycle when Travis Hunter turned from Florida State in the early signing period. The two-way star followed Sanders to Colorado, and is a preseason All-Pac-12 selection.

Buffaloes do not apologize for reforming the roster in question

Colorado made plenty of offseason headlines because of the unprecedented way Sanders and his staff turned around the Buffaloes’ roster. More than 50 players from Colorado’s 2022 team have entered the portal since Sanders’ arrival. That roster-building approach has been criticized by some — the Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi and Oklahoma’s Venables Brent included — but Kelly reiterated that the Buffaloes are taking an unapologetic stance on how they do business.

“We worked to build a roster for the University of Colorado, and we make no apologies for that,” Kelly said. “Our job now is to make sure we coach, develop and develop these players.”

The new additions include several recruits who visited in the 2023 cycle and a transfer class that was ranked No. 1 in the country by 247Sports.

Alas, it didn’t do much to earn Colorado favor among members of the media. The IS Buffaloes are selected on Thursday to finish 11th in the Pac-12 this season. Kelly said Colorado players and coaches haven’t paid much attention to that position, stressing that success will be defined by more than results on the field for a program that went 1-11 in 2022.

“If we all got off the projections, we wouldn’t kick the ball,” Kelly said. “​​​​​​We wouldn’t be playing the games. I don’t think any of our players or coaches – I’m sure they’ll use it as a motivational tool. But listen, what we’re focused on is being the best football team we can be.

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