Nebraska Football: Matt Rhule embracing new rivalry with Deion Sanders

Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule speaks (Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports)
Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule speaks (Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports) /

Now that the biggest part of the early signing period has come and gone, Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule has the smallest amount of time to really reflect on his first few weeks at the helm. Among the things he reflected on Wednesday was the renewal of an old rivalry with a brand new bent.

The games between the Colorado Buffaloes and Nebraska football were some of the most hyped and most anticipated contests of the season towards the end of the Big 8 and into the era of the Big 12. Then the Huskers moved to greener pastures in the Big 10 and Colorado made the jump to the Pac 12 in what appeared to basically be a way to get out a conference many thought would start to fail one the Cornhuskers broke away.

After several years off, CU and NU renewed the rivalry (even if there are still Nebraska fans out there that refuse to call it one) in 2018 and 2019. They will play a set of home and home games in 2023 and 2024 as well.

Interestingly enough, when the Buffaloes and Cornhuskers meet up next season, the contest will once again feature new head coaches for both programs. Last time it was Scott Frost and Mel Tucker. This time it will be Matt Rhule and Deion Sanders. For his part, Rhule seems to understand that the rivalry between the two schools is more than just what happens on the field. It’s also going to feature recruiting battles. Despite the teams playing in different conferences, they tend to try and recruit in the same sandboxes, since they are border states.

For the 2023 class, Rhule came out as the victor in a head-to-head matchup against Deion Sanders for 4-star Lincoln East product Malachi Coleman. The 6-4 athlete, who projects to be a receiver in Matt Rhule’s offense committed to Nebraska football when Rhule’s predecessor, Mickey Joseph was the interim head coach. He decommited after Joseph was let go, but signed with his homestate team on Wednesday. That signing followed a visit to Colorado last weekend. Talking to 247 Sports’ Josh Pate, Rhule seemed to understand just how close he came to losing out on Coleman. He also talked about how much respect he has for Deion Sanders.

"“He’s an iconic, iconic [person]. Matter of fact we had a recruiting weekend this past weekend and they had the video games up and there’s Prime with his hands out as a player. And I’m like ‘Can we get the other teams and coaches off the screen?’ So, he’ll do a great job at Colorado. It is fun. As we were preparing for this job, my wife and kids and I, watching those great games in the ’80s and ’90s with Coach [Bill] McCartney (Colorado) and obviously coach [Tom] Osborne and coach [Frank] Solich and so many others. So I think it’s great for college football. We wanna be great in the Big Ten and I’m sure they’ll do a great job in the Pac-12.”"

It seems that Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule understands quite well that Wednesday was just the beginning. Of a lot of things.