Journal-Advocate (Sterling)

CU Buffs’ interim coach Mike Sanford focused on player interviews in first week of offseason

- By Brian Howell bhowell@ prairiemou­

Mike Sanford didn’t hide the fact that he would be taking a few hours off of work on Tuesday.

Colorado’s interim head football coach wasn’t going to miss USA’S win over Iran in the World Cup. Outside of that break, however, Sanford’s been busy doing postseason interviews with the players.

CU (1-11, 1-8 Pac-12) wrapped up a dismal season last Saturday with a 63-21 loss to Utah, which moved up to No. 11 in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night. While the Utes and USC prepare for this week’s Pac-12 title game, the Buffaloes are trying to figure out who will lead the program into the future.

Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders has confirmed CU made an offer for him to become the next head coach of the Buffs. But, first, he has to coach JSU in the SWAC title game on Saturday.

CU players, meanwhile, are waiting to find out of it will be Sanders, Illinois defensive coordinato­r Ryan Walters, Sanford or someone else who takes over.

Sanford can’t control who coaches the Buffs, but he’s the man in the top seat for now and he said after the Utah game, it’s vital for him to make sure the players are taken care of in this time of transition.

“I’m gonna be here for these players,” Sanford said. “I just want to be here for them to just love them up, reassure them that everything’s gonna be OK. Ultimately, I just want to continue to serve this group of players as long as they’ll have me. I think it’s important for me just to be that presence for them, and not doing it in a selfish manner. Do it in a way that truly does show them that I care about them no matter what.”

Sanford has been doing that since he was handed the interim role after Karl Dorrell was fired on Oct. 2. CU went just 1-6 with Sanford at the helm — albeit against a brutal schedule — but his impact was felt.

“He definitely served us really well, as well as anybody could have,” senior tight end Brady Russell said.

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