ESPN made a business decision. Montana Lemonious-Craig did too.
When the “worldwide leader” chose Deion Sanders’ program to be the lone college football team who would have their Spring Game aired on ESPN — over Alabama and LSU — on Saturday, due to 45,000 fans buying ten-dollar tickets to attend, it meant that the focus of the college football world would be on Boulder, Colo. Lemonious-Craig understood the stakes, gambled on himself, and won.
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After going 1-11 last season, Lemonious-Craig was supposed to be one of the holdovers Sanders was keeping on this team, as he caught 23 balls for 359 yards, and 3 touchdowns. On Saturday, he caught a 98-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Shedeur Sanders — against an atrocious secondary — and finished with three grabs for 154 yards.
But much like his coach, who loves to make the best decision for himself at all times, Lemonious-Craig left Sanders high and dry a day later when he entered the transfer portal, using Sanders’ big day against him. “I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits,” Lemonious-Craig wrote in his social media post announcing his decision. A couple of hours later, Chase Sowell — another wide receiver — took to social media to announce that he was also leaving.
And just like that, Sanders — a clown in his own right — became the butt of his own joke, reaping what he so publicly sowed.
“We got a few positions already taken care of because I’m bringing my own luggage with me,” Sanders told players in a team meeting — which he recorded and released to social media — after his introductory press conference. “And it’s Louis, OK?”
“I’m coming. And when I get there, it’s gonna be changed, so I want y’all to get ready to go ahead and jump in that (transfer) portal and do whatever you’re gonna get because the more of you jump into (the transfer portal), the more room you make because we bring kids that are smart, tough.”
In case you aren’t aware why this is hilarious, let me explain. Sanders, a coach who’s lost two of the biggest games he’s ever coached (2021 & 2022 Celebration Bowl), publicly embarrassed a team that had just gone 1-11, and when some of the players he’ll need showed signs of progress, they decided to use his day in the spotlight as an audition for other schools.
And that is how you play “the game.” Maybe Sanders can tap back into his days as a pseudo-minister and pray for some wide receiver depth, like in that social media clip that dug up some old footage of him praying over R. Kelly.
However, what Saturday proved more than anything is that people, and networks, are more enamored with flash than substance. Colorado is coming off a year in which an overtime victory against Cal is the only reason they didn’t go 0-12. This is a program that has only had two winning seasons since 2005 and has the likes of TCU, Oregon, USC, UCLA, and Utah on their schedule — among others. But yet, fans packed a stadium on a cold day while ESPN rolled out the red carpet for a “coach” that couldn’t beat the likes of South Carolina State and North Carolina Central, and is scouring for players his son can throw the ball to since they’re leaving due to him publicly encouraging them to.
This is going to be a memorable season for Deion Sanders and Colorado, but not in the way they’re hoping for.