The famous Ryman Auditorium microphone where so many artists have sang over the decades.

‘Voice of the Buffaloes’ Larry Zimmer dies at 88

Larry Zimmer, the longtime Colorado Buffaloes radio announcer who also spent time broadcasting games for the Denver Broncos, Michigan Wolverines and Colorado State Rams, among others, died Saturday at the age of 88.

Surrounded by family after a 10-day stay at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood, Colo., Zimmer passed away peacefully, per the University of Colorado.

The school honored the man dubbed the “Voice of the Buffaloes” who broadcast 486 football contests and another 525 basketball games for them with a moment of silence prior to Sunday’s women’s basketball game between Colorado and Southern California.

“His voice was synonymous with our athletic program and he was most beloved by our coaches, players and fans,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said. “Whether it was calling games on KOA or serving as a master of ceremonies for many of our functions, Larry Zimmer was CU. He is truly a part of our overall athletic history. We will miss Zim and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Zimmer handled either play-by-play or color commentary duties for Colorado for 42 seasons and handled 26 seasons of commentary for the Broncos. He was on the microphone for four Super Bowls. He also called 51 Michigan football games and 34 Colorado State football contests.

“The Broncos are deeply saddened by the passing of legendary radio broadcaster and longtime Ring of Fame committee member Larry Zimmer,” the organization said in a released statement. “During his 52-year association with the Broncos, Larry called some of the franchise’s most iconic moments and helped honor some of our greatest legends. Our thoughts go out to Larry’s wife, Brigitte, and his entire family.”

Born in 1935 in New Orleans, La., Zimmer started his education at LSU before transferring to Missouri, where he graduated in 1957. Zimmer got his start doing baseball games for the Tigers before taking on broadcasting duties for Michigan in 1966.

He joined KOA five years later, kick-starting his long associations with CU and the Broncos.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Travis Hunter (12) walks on the field against the Colorado State Rams during the first half at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado’s Travis Hunter plans to play Friday

Colorado cleared Travis Hunter to return and play Friday for the first time since a lacerated liver on Sept. 16.

A two-way star who plays cornerback and wide receiver, Hunter could be on a snap count or restricted to one position depending on “how he looks,” in a final pregame test before the Pac-12 matchup with Stanford in Boulder, coach Deion Sanders said.

“He has to be in shape. I don’t want him to be a liability. I want him always to be a tremendous asset,” Sanders said.

Hunter told Sanders on Monday that he was back to normal, defying initial timelines for his return later this month.

Sanders added that Hunter will be wearing “protection” around the liver area.

Hunter was hurt in the Buffaloes’ 43-35 double-overtime win over Colorado State. He was on the receiving end of a sideline hit from Rams safety Henry Blackburn and hasn’t played since.

A former five-star high school recruit, Hunter plays wide receiver and cornerback for Sanders at Colorado after following the coach there from Jackson State. In the first three games of 2023, Hunter had 16 catches for 233 yards on offense and one interception, two pass breakups and nine tackles on defense.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Travis Hunter (12) following the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Deion Sanders: ‘Tremendous chance’ Travis Hunter returns vs. Stanford

Colorado two-way star Travis Hunter is closer than ever to returning to game action after suffering a lacerated liver Sept. 16.

Colorado (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) hosts Stanford on Friday night before a bye week.

“There’s a tremendous chance he could play,” Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders told reporters Tuesday. “It goes by how he looks, how he performs in practice, how his wind is. … He has to be in shape. I don’t want him to be a liability. I want him always to be a tremendous asset.”

Sanders previously said it was his “dream and desire” that Hunter stayed out until after the bye week, but Hunter has been persistent.

“He came to me (Monday) morning saying, ‘What more can I do to help us get to the point that we need to get to?’” Sanders said. “So I love the team aspect of Travis 100 percent. I hope he can play.”

Sanders added that Hunter will be wearing “protection” around the liver area.

Hunter suffered the injury during the Buffaloes’ 43-35 double-overtime win over Colorado State on Sept. 16. The wide receiver/defensive back took a tough late hit at the sideline from Rams safety Henry Blackburn and hasn’t played since.

A former five-star high school recruit, Hunter plays wide receiver and cornerback for Sanders at Colorado after following the coach there from Jackson State. In the first three games of 2023, Hunter had 16 catches for 233 yards on offense and one interception, two pass breakups and nine tackles on defense.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Trenton Bourguet (16) is sacked by Colorado Buffaloes defensive end Arden Walker (53) in the second half at Mountain America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado seeks return to dominance, welcomes Stanford to town

Colorado has recently taken a dip after a magical 3-0 start, but the Buffaloes have a chance to rediscover their prowess when they face hapless Stanford in Pac-12 play on Friday night in Boulder, Colo.

While Colorado ended an eight-game Pac-12 losing streak with last Saturday’s 27-24 win at Arizona State, the Cardinal (1-4, 0-3 Pac-12) have dropped 17 of their past 18 conference games, including seven straight.

Stanford is coming off a bye after losing its previous four contests.

Colorado (4-2, 1-2) lost to then-No. 10 Oregon and then-No. 8 Southern California in back-to-back weeks before escaping with a victory against the Sun Devils thanks to Alejandro Mata’s 43-yard field goal with 12 seconds left.

Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders was highly irritated with his team’s performance.

“I’m happy about the win but I’m not happy in the fashion that we won it in,” the man known as Coach Prime said. “We’re better than that. We really are better than that, and we got to start showing that. …

“I’m sick of these consistent holes that we’re displaying and the penalties and the things that we’re doing. We’re so much better. I apologize for my anger … but I don’t accept mediocrity.”

Some good news for the Buffaloes came Monday when two-way standout Travis Hunter practiced for the first time since sustaining a lacerated liver during a victory over Colorado State on Sept. 16.

Quarterback Shedeur Sanders continues to thrive and has completed 72.7 percent of his passes this season for 2,020 yards, 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Prior to the bye, Stanford was annihilated 42-6 by then-No. 9 Oregon when the Ducks had a 506-222 advantage in total offense.

“They’re explosive obviously,” Cardinal first-year coach Troy Taylor said. “Our defense did a really good job in the first half. You put an explosive offense on the field that much, they will make plays.”

Stanford’s lone win came in its season opener against Hawaii. The Cardinal also lost to FCS foe Sacramento State — Taylor’s former program — to start a streak of three consecutive home setbacks.

While the defense is allowing 34.6 points per game, the offense is averaging just 19.2 behind inconsistent quarterback play.

Ashton Daniels is completing 60 percent of his passes for 561 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, while Justin Lamson has a 49.2 percent accuracy rate while throwing for 413 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

Outside linebacker David Bailey leads the defense with four sacks.

Colorado has won the past three meetings between the teams after Stanford prevailed in the previous five.

–Field Level Media

USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) throws a pass against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the first half at Mountain America Stadium in Tempe on Sept. 23, 2023.

Colorado faces another high-scoring test when No. 8 USC visits

Colorado was just shellacked by one Top 10 team, and another is on its way on the rigorous Pac-12 schedule.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and No. 8 Southern California arrive as the next test for the Buffaloes on Saturday in Boulder, Colo.

The Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) lead the nation in scoring offense at 55 points per game and are looking to pin another defeat on the Buffaloes (3-1, 0-1), who were routed 42-6 at then-No. 10 Oregon last weekend.

And Williams is playing like he wants to join Ohio State legend Archie Griffin (1974-75) as the lone two-time Heisman winners. He has completed 74.3 percent of his passes for 1,200 yards, 15 touchdowns and no interceptions. He has also rushed for three touchdowns.

Colorado coach Deion Sanders, a Hall of Fame cornerback at both the college and pro levels, was asked what he liked about Williams.

“Everything. The kid is a playmaker,” the man known as Coach Prime said. “He deserved the Heisman Trophy a year ago. … He makes plays. He makes that team go. He’s a handful.”

Williams was intercepted just five times in 500 passing attempts last season. The offseason goal was to see Williams become even more efficient with intermediate and deep throws.

So far, so good — Williams has been pick-free in 101 attempts.

“I for sure worked on it,” Williams said. “I thought I was pretty efficient last year, but this year … when you have those moments, and you have those big plays that come up, you want to be able to execute and capitalize in those moments. And we’ve been able to do that so far.”

Williams passed for 322 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more scores in last weekend’s 42-28 road victory over Arizona State. A sluggish effort on defense led USC to drop three spots in the rankings.

The Trojans rank third in total offense (569.2 yards per game) and are also getting strong production from running back MarShawn Lloyd (349 yards, two touchdowns) and receivers Brenden Rice (12 catches, 257 yards, five touchdowns) and Tahj Washington (10-278-four).

Colorado, which is 0-16 all-time against USC, figures to have its hands full on defense.

The Buffaloes will be without two-way star Travis Hunter (lacerated liver) for the second straight game. Hunter’s strong play as a cornerback will definitely be missed against the Trojans’ high-powered passing game.

Safety Shilo Sanders is questionable, though his father, Deion, remains hopeful. When the team returned to Boulder after the loss to Oregon, Shilo Sanders was transported to a hospital because he was urinating blood.

“He’s doing much better,” Deion Sanders said Tuesday. “We’re praying that he heals and he’s playing this weekend. He’s a valuable part of our secondary and our team defensively.”

Offensively, quarterback Shedeur Sanders was sacked seven times against Oregon and has been dropped 22 times in four games. He passed for a season-low 159 yards after topping 300 in each of the first three games.

The offensive line has also struggled to help get the running game moving. The Buffaloes are last in the nation in both rushing offense (55.8 ypg) and yards per carry (1.91).

Troubles or not, USC coach Lincoln Riley has been paying attention to the early-season Colorado rise under Coach Prime. He said last week’s tough time in Eugene has nothing to do with what goes on this Saturday in Boulder.

“Whether (Colorado) won by a lot, lost by a lot, or anything in between, we’re gonna see a good football team at their home and those are always a challenge,” Riley said.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes safety Shilo Sanders (21) looks on during the fourth quarter against the Colorado State Rams at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado safety Shilo Sanders went to ER after Oregon game

Colorado safety Shilo Sanders, the son of coach Deion Sanders, had to be taken to the emergency room with an undisclosed injury after the Buffaloes’ 42-6 loss to Oregon on Saturday.

In a video released on YouTube by his brother Deion Sanders Jr., Shilo Sanders was seen coming off the team plane and saying that he was “peeing blood.”

Asked if he was all right, Shilo Sanders replied, “Nah, I made a tackle and I landed on my kidney or something bro, so I gotta go to the ER and get checked.”

On Tuesday, Deion Sanders told reporters his son was improving. Colorado is preparing for another Pac-12 game against a ranked opponent this Saturday, this time No. 8 Southern California in Boulder, Colo.

“We went to the hospital right after we landed,” Deion Sanders said. “He’s doing much better. We’re praying that he heals and he’s playing this weekend. He’s a valuable part of our secondary and our team defensively.”

In four games this season, Shilo Sanders has 26 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception he returned for a touchdown against Colorado State.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Travis Hunter (12) following the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Deion Sanders says no Travis Hunter for Colorado vs. No. 8 USC

Colorado two-way star Travis Hunter will not play this Saturday’s home game against No. 8 Southern California as he recovers from a lacerated liver.

Colorado coach Deion Sanders — in a video posted online Monday on his son’s YouTube channel — told his players that Hunter texted him saying he needed to play this week after missing Colorado’s 42-6 loss to Oregon.

“We need to get everything we can so I can get back on the field. I’m not taking no for an answer,” Hunter purportedly told Sanders.

Sanders then told his team how he responded:

“No, you ain’t ready and I care about you more than I care about this game. You’re going to change the game of football one day when you get healthy and ready. Your future is brighter than mine ever will be and ever was. Relax and get healthy. I love you, son.”

Hunter was injured Sept. 16 when Colorado State’s Henry Blackburn laid an illegal hit on him along the sideline.

A former five-star high school recruit, Hunter plays wide receiver and cornerback for Sanders at Colorado after following the coach there from Jackson State. In the first three games of 2023, Hunter had 16 catches for 233 yards on offense and one interception, two pass breakups and nine tackles on defense.

After the Buffaloes’ lopsided loss at Oregon, unbeaten USC is a 21.5-point favorite against Colorado at BetMGM and FanDuel Sportsbook.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) scrambles in double overtime against the Colorado State Rams at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Oregon is Deion Sanders’ first Pac-12 test with No. 19 Buffs

The atmosphere will be tense when No. 19 Colorado faces No. 10 Oregon in Eugene on Saturday, revolving around the Buffaloes’ decision to bolt the Pac-12 for the Big 12 following this season.

The Buffaloes went 1-11 last season as the dregs of the Pac-12 and Oregon coach Jim Lanning pulled no punches when asked about Colorado’s departure.

“Not a big reaction,” Lanning said at Oregon’s preseason media day. “I’m trying to remember what they won to affect this conference. I don’t remember. Do you remember them winning anything? I don’t remember them winning anything.”

First-year Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders was irked by the comments. Now the two coaches will be sharing the field in a highly anticipated showdown between two 3-0 teams.

While Sanders uses the comments as bulletin board material, Lanning said during Monday’s press conference that he doesn’t need to revise his comments.

“I don’t regret anything I’ve said,” Lanning said. “At the end of the day, I wasn’t talking about Deion’s team, I was talking about the past and future for our team. But if that serves as material for them, great. I don’t think it’s going to have any bearing on the game or the success of the game.”

During Tuesday’s press conference, Sanders played nice and was highly complimentary of Lanning, who went 10-3 last season in his first year with the Ducks.

“What he’s accomplished, stepping in, taking over a program and keeping it not only rocking steady but accelerating it,” Sanders said. “I respect the heck out of him. I love what he’s accomplishing. I love the way he operates. So I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”

Colorado had a scare last Saturday night as it had to rally from an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit to record a 43-35 double-overtime victory over Colorado State.

Quarterback Shedeur Sanders led the Buffaloes on a late 98-yard drive for touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion with 36 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Shedeur Sanders passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns.

But in the first quarter, two-way standout Travis Hunter was drilled in the midsection by Colorado State safety Henry Blackburn. Hunter eventually exited the game and spent two nights in a Boulder hospital due to a lacerated liver.

Hunter is expected to miss multiple weeks, leaving a void at both receiver and cornerback.

“No one in the country can fill Travis Hunter’s shoes,” Deion Sanders said. “He’s one of a kind. He’s the best player on offense, the best player on defense. That’s just who he is in the country, not just on his team.”

While Colorado is averaging 41.3 points, it allows 30.3 and the defensive unit could have issues corralling the Ducks.

Oregon ranks second in scoring offense at 58 points per game and is coming off a 55-10 trouncing of visiting Hawaii.

Bo Nix is completing 77.6 percent of his passes for 893 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions. For comparison, Shedeur Sanders is completing 78.7 percent of his passes for 1,251 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception.

Oregon’s Troy Franklin has 17 receptions for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Bucky Irving (8.0 average, three TDs) and Jordan James (7.4, five) have combined for eight rushing scores.

The Ducks are also stout defensively, allowing 15.7 points and 158.7 passing yards per game. The latter ranks 15th nationally.

Of course, stats are secondary in this matchup.

“I’d be a fool not to recognize all of the success they have created on a team that didn’t have a lot of success before,” Lanning said of Sanders. “He’s done a phenomenal job … They are winning games. It doesn’t matter how but they’re winning games.”

The Ducks have won nine of the past 10 meetings.

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders runs on the field before the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

‘Just ball out’: No. 22 Buffs, Deion Sanders eye encore vs. Nebraska

It took just one game for new coach Deion Sanders to match Colorado’s 2022 victory total.

The Buffaloes (1-0) also made quite a splash in the debut of “Coach Prime” and are the No. 22-ranked team in the nation entering Saturday’s contest against Nebraska (0-1) in Boulder, Colo.

The overwhelming preseason storyline was that Colorado was in for a long season as it had just 10 returning scholarship players in the program due to Sanders’ roster overhaul that brought in 84 new players.

But last week’s epic 45-42 road victory over TCU — a team that played in last season’s national title game — has prompted a quick change of perception. Suddenly, praise is overflowing and quarterback Shedeur Sanders and two-way standout Travis Hunter are being mentioned as Heisman Trophy candidates.

“Hey man, all we have to do is win. You see all the attention that we’re getting? That has registered now,” Deion Sanders said during Tuesday’s news conference. “These young men, they know now that if we just ball out, we’re going to get the love that we desire. And that’s all they want. They want attention, focus, a little love and light. Ain’t nothing wrong with that as long as they use it in the right way.”

Shedeur Sanders set a school record with 510 passing yards while throwing four touchdown passes, running back Dylan Edwards scored four touchdowns (one rushing, three receiving) in his college debut and Hunter caught 11 passes for 119 yards on offense and intercepted a pass near the goal line on defense.

Hunter, who followed Deion Sanders from Jackson State to Colorado, played a stunning 129 snaps in his Buffaloes debut.

“It’s fun. It’s all in your body, but that’s what you got treatment for,” Hunter said. “I liked it. I like going out there. I didn’t get a touchdown but I got an interception, so that’s just gonna help my stats. That’s gonna help my team.”

Like Deion Sanders, Nebraska’s Matt Rhule also is in his first season at a new school. He coached at Temple and Baylor in the college ranks and spent 2 1/2 seasons with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers before being fired last October.

Rhule said Monday that Colorado’s opening performance wasn’t a stunner to him.

“Coach Sanders is a football guy,” Rhule said. “While you can watch all their practices and stuff on TV, at the end of the day when has he ever not been serious about football? He’s been a head coach now. They’ve got elite players and elite players up and down the front. Every time you have a great quarterback you have a chance to win. I wasn’t surprised at all.”

Rhule’s debut with the Cornhuskers was not a happy one. Nebraska blew a seven-point, fourth-quarter lead as Minnesota scored 10 points in the final 2:32 to post a 13-10 victory.

Dragan Kesich kicked a 47-yard field goal as time expired for the Golden Gophers.

Quarterback Jeff Sims was intercepted three times in his Nebraska debut. The former Georgia Tech starter completed 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown and also rushed for a team-high 91 yards on 19 rushes.

“He’s not the first quarterback that’s ever thrown three interceptions,” Rhule said. “The great ones bounce back from it even better. I think you find out about people when they go through a little bit of adversity.”

Cornhuskers receiver Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda suffered a season-ending ACL tear against Minnesota.

Nebraska leads the all-time series 49-20-2 but Colorado has won the lone two meetings since the Cornhuskers departed the Big 12 for the Big Ten following the 2010 season. The Buffaloes prevailed 34-31 in overtime on Sept. 7, 2019 in Boulder in the most recent meeting.

–Field Level Media

Apr 22, 2023; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders hits the field before the start of the spring game at Folsom Filed. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Amazon film series to document Deion Sanders’ first season at Colorado

The University of Colorado and Deion Sanders’ business manager have agreed on a contract for a documentary series about the football team’s first-year head coach to be shown on Amazon Prime, USA Today reported.

Colorado will not be compensated by SMAC Productions, which is co-founded along with SMAC Entertainment by Sanders’ business manager, Constance Schwartz-Morini. Instead, the university feels it will benefit from publicity and other advantages for the Boulder campus.

“The exposure of hiring Coach Prime (Sanders) has already paid dividends in the form of record-breaking ticket and merchandise sales, and we are confident the documentary will only increase these ‘Prime Effect’ impacts throughout the university,” Colorado spokesman Steve Hurlbert told USA Today.

Hurlbert confirmed that Colorado did not ask for financial compensation, unlike similar arrangements for other college programs such as Michigan football, which was paid $2.25 million for access and licensing for a 2017 show on Amazon, according to the report. Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari received $1 million from the producers of a docuseries about the program, and he said he donated it to charity.

The contract, according to the report, gives SMAC Productions wide access and calls for weekly meetings with the Colorado athletic director or his representatives with consultation about the content of each episode. The producers also have some dramatic license with the storytelling “to enhance the dramatic value of the Series,” according to the contract, without misrepresenting or defaming Colorado or its individuals.

Hurlbert said there has been a “positive, collaborative working partnership between SMAC and CU Boulder on this project.”

The Buffaloes’ first game is Sept. 2 at TCU. The contract calls for access to filming through the 2023 season and program activities up to and including the team banquet.

Additional seasons of the series would be negotiated with Colorado.

SMAC produced a four-part series on Sanders’ final season as the head coach of Jackson State in 2022, which streamed on Amazon.

The Buffaloes went 1-11 last season before hiring Sanders. Now, not only has the program garnered more attention, but season tickets have sold out for the first time since 1996, USA Today reported. The spring football game sold out for the first time, period.

“This documentary gives an unprecedented look at one of the highest-profile college coaching jobs in America,” a spokesperson for SMAC Entertainment said in a statement to USA Today Sports. “The access and participation from the school and the students will showcase real-time moments of turning a football program around while bringing global exposure to the University of Colorado.”

SMAC Entertainment manages Sanders and his two sons on the team, Shedeur and Shilo, as well as cornerback/receiver Travis Hunter. Sam Morini, Schwartz-Marini’s nephew, is a SMAC employee and Deion Sanders’ day-to-day manager.

–Field Level Media