The rumors appear to be true. Former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is in fact heading to the University of Colorado to join Deion Sanders. Zimmer, who is not coaching at the NFL level for the first time since 1999, will join Sanders as the defensive coordinator of the Buffaloes.
Zimmer had spent the past 22 years in the NFL prior to the 2022 seasons, including eight years as the Vikings head coach from 2014-2021. During that time, the Vikings went a combined 72-56-1, making the playoffs three times (2015, 2017, 2019). Ultimately, the Vikings let him go after an 8-9 2021 season, their second consecutive year below .500.
During his head coaching tenure, the Vikings were known for having tremendous defenses, especially during their playoff years. However, in the lack of success down the stretch of his time in Minnesota, the once-vaunted Zimmer defenses became unrecognizable.
Now at Colorado, he and Sanders look to turn around a program that has had massive struggles in the PAC-12. Since joining the conference in 2011, the Buffaloes have had just two winning seasons, and one of them came during the shortened COVID season of 2020. They are coming off a 1-11 year in 2022 where they were widely considered to be one of the weakest programs in the country.
On the defensive side of the ball, Colorado allowed 44.5 points per game, putting them 131st out of 131 FBS programs. They also only scored 15.4 points per game which ranked 127th out of 131.
This abysmal lack of success is not typical of Colorado football in years past. They had a “glory years” period in the late 1980s and 1990s where they made bowl game appearances in 10 of 12 years, including a national championship in the 1990 Orange Bowl.
It certainly will be a long road to get Colorado back to that level of superiority in the college football world. However, Sanders found great success at his most recent coaching gig at HBCU Jackson State. Zimmer actually was an advisor there as well, so the two have experience working in the same program together. With the former Vikings head coach coaching defense by Sanders’ side once again, the duo should turn things around for the better at Colorado.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.