10:58 p.m. Eastern Time
Pete Thamel ESPN
With Jackson State on the cusp of the SWAC title game on Saturday, Sanders and his associates have spent the week consulting both potential members of his on-field staff and support staff in Colorado, inviting them to join him in Boulder, the sources said.
A source told ESPN late Friday that Sanders’ outreach included a call to a prominent player on the NCAA‘s transfer portal, encouraging him not to make a decision because Sanders was headed to Colorado and wanted to draft him there.
A different source close to a player committed to play in Colorado said earlier this week a current Jackson State staffer called to verify the player’s commitment to Colorado. He also asked for some film of the player to evaluate it.
“They weren’t exactly hiding anything,” the source said. “It seemed like a done deal.”
Internally in Colorado, according to sources, support staff have been seen preparing material for the hiring of Sanders. There is widespread expectation in the building that Sanders will arrive there this weekend, although staff have not been formally informed.
“They’re not doing a great job of hiding this,” a staff source said. “If he pulls out of this deal, it would be a huge problem for Colorado.”
Sanders has said publicly that he has been offered the job in Colorado. All signs point to him accepting it within the next 48 hours, as every other candidate Colorado has hired has stalled after interviewing weeks ago.
Sanders has gone 26-5 in his last three seasons at Jackson State and 22-2 in the last two years. Jackson State (11-0) plays Southern (7-4), a team it beat 35-0 earlier in the year, for the SWAC title on Saturday. Sanders is expected to inform his team that he will be leaving shortly after the game.
Sanders is in his third season as a college football coach.
Colorado fired Karl Dorrell in October after an 0-5 start and an 8-15 overall record in three years as coach. Mike Sanford filled in as interim and went 1-6 to close out the year.
Sanders is an iconic American athlete and a member of the Pro Football and College Football Hall of Fame. He played in the NFL for 14 seasons, winning two Super Bowls and also played for five different Major League Baseball teams from 1989 to 2001.