When Deion Sanders became the head college football coach at the University of Colorado in early December 2022, he inherited a 1-11 team without any direction, hope or talent. 

Things were bleak, to say the least, especially from a talent perspective.

Sanders wasted little time overhauling the Buffaloes roster, letting 46 players leave via the transfer portal while adding over 50 the other way. Colorado’s first transfer class was headlined by Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter

Pretty, pretty good additions, considering both will play on Sundays in the near future.

Legendary Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White remembers paying close attention to all the chess moves in Sanders’ first offseason, one that was adamantly clear about adding gobs of talent at the skill positions.

“I love when there’s change and I love the transfer portal,” White told FOX Sports. “I have a power rating on every single player, so all I have to do is add all the players up to get to a team’s power rating.”

A “100” rating is an average team in White’s system. He creates his point spreads by subtracting the lower team from the higher team. So if a 104-point team is facing a 98-point team on a neutral field, White’s line is -6.

Variables like home-field advantage sway numbers more.

RELATED: Bettors love Buffs to win National Championship

White’s rating on Colorado was a measly 81.5 at the end of the 2022 campaign, but Sanders’ deft recruiting catapulted that number to 96.5 by Colorado’s first game at TCU in Week 1 of 2023.

And we all remember what happened in Fort Worth.

Deion Sanders on future with Colorado: ‘I plan on being here and being dominant’

Colorado upset national runner-up and No. 17 TCU 45-42 as a 20.5-point underdog, rocking the college football world and sending most Vegas sportsbooks into a frenzied, power-rating catch-up exercise.

Not White, though.

“Look, I was 15 points higher on them coming into the season,” he cracked. “It’s tough for a team to improve that much from the end of one season to the beginning of the next, but talent goes a long way in this business.”

After wins against TCU and Nebraska, White’s power rating for Colorado increased over a full touchdown heading into the Colorado State game, moving from 96.5 to 104.5. 

However, by that point, almost every bettor in America wanted a piece of Deion, Shedeur, Hunter and celebrities like Lil’ Wayne, who piled onto the Buffaloes’ sideline to catch an early glimpse of the next big thing.

Kenny White’s Colorado ratings last year:

WK 1 – 96.5 points
WK 2 – 102.5
WK 3 – 104.5
WK 4 – 101 (-3.5 pts w/out Travis Hunter)
WK 5 – 100
WK 6 – 100.5 (after losing 48-41 to USC)
WK 7 – 103.5 (Travis Hunter’s return)
WK 8 – 102.5
WK 9 – 102.5
WK 10 – 98
WK 11 – 98
WK 12 – 98
WK 13 – 97
WK 14 – 92.5 (Shedeur Sanders OUT)

Colorado almost lost — and should’ve lost — to Colorado State in Week 3 as a 23.5-point favorite, an alarming sign for anybody with a pulse.

The Buffaloes proceeded to get smashed 42-6 at Oregon, then give up six passing touchdowns to Caleb Williams the week after that. It was the beginning of the end for a team that would lose its last six games. 

“Finishing at 92.5 says they were 7.5 points below the average team at the end,” White explained. “But they reached the mid-100s at their peak.

“I understood the Colorado love after the first three wins, but it was just too much. There was a lack of depth and the offensive and defensive lines were very thin. It was impossible for them to play well when injuries piled up.

“I bet a lot of money against them at the end of the year.”

Can Deion Sanders and Colorado capture interest with an early non-conference win?

As for the upcoming season, White is still putting the finishing touches on his football ratings. It’s only July 1 for crying out loud and NBA Summer League, one of his personal favorites to bet on, is right around the corner.

White will use last year’s ratings as a North Star for 2024, and he’ll likely use Colorado’s numerical ceiling [104.5] as a starting point.

“They’re going to be a fringe top 25 team,” White forecasted. “Deion knows how to bring in talent. It’s very tough to imagine them taking a step back with all the new talent, plus Sanders and Hunter both back in Boulder.

“They’ll probably be around 110 in my numbers.”

81.5 — Kenny’s Colorado power rating Dec. 2022

110 — Kenny’s projected Colorado rating Aug. 2024 

The elephant in Colorado’s room is that we still don’t really know if Deion Sanders is a solid in-game coach. 

His Jackson State teams were dominantly superior to the competition, and it’s unfair to dog him for trying to push a boulder up a mountain last year with a make-shift, portal-laden roster.


“He overachieved to the betting number,” White countered. “Colorado finished 7-4-1 (63.6%) against the spread, which is impressive. I won’t sit here and act like I studied Colorado’s schemes and play calling.

“I watched a handful of games and never thought Colorado was outschemed or unprepared in its games. I never thought, ‘Wow, Deion’s a bad coach.’ I rate all the coaches in the country, and he’s in the A- to B+ range.”

Colorado’s 2024 regular-season win total is 5.5 at most sportsbooks, a two-win hike from last year’s number. While the Buffs should be much improved, they’re still massive long shots to make the College Football Playoff (14-1) or win the National Championship (300-1).

But White knows better days will reach Boulder soon.

“Players make coaches look good and Deion is a fabulous recruiter,” he said. “Guys want to play for him, that’s obvious. If he stays at Colorado, he’ll have a championship-caliber program there by his fourth season.” 

Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He’ll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot. 

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