Matt Rhule tries not to but still ends up taking shots at Colorado football HC Deion Sanders

Sep 30, 2023; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule during the third
Sep 30, 2023; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule during the third / Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Rhule was trying to toe the line and not insult Colorado football head coach Deion Sanders, but in explaining how he does things, it still came off as though the Nebraska HC was digging Coach Prime's way of recruiting.

“I’ll be honest with you: It’s the only way I know,” Rhule told USA TODAY Sports about his 108 high school visits, something Sanders has done a total of zero times. “It’s the way I was raised. They pay me to recruit, you know, so I’m gonna go do it."

The way he was raised? Rhule was leaning into Jay Norvell territory with that comment. The New York native would go on to subtly slam Sanders' 40-40-20 recruiting model -- one that emphasizes recruiting 80% of the Buffs roster through the transfer portal and just 20% from high school -- while explaining how to build a "sustainable" model.

“I just think there’s a bigger thing we’re trying to get done, and that’s building a sustainable recruiting model where year after year, you have connections in the building and you’re one of the first teams people call,” Rhule prefaced before saying, “To do that you have to be out, and you have to be present.”

Matt Rhule fueling Nebraska-Colorado football recruiting rivalry with subtle Deion Sanders shots

To be clear, it was USA Today that knew what they were doing evoking Sanders' name while speaking to Rhule. Controversy creates clicks, which creates cash, and they put Rhule in a sticky spot having this conversation at all.

Since they went there, though, and Rhule obliged, it's clear that there's at least one ulterior motive to discussing the recruiting differences between Nebraska and Colorado's head coaches: the 2024 rematch of 2023's Husker-Buffs game that CU handled easily on their home field in Boulder.

Rhule's team was embarrassed 36-14 at Folsom Field, but they still carry in more momentum to the rematch after a more successful end to the 2023 season and a better offseason recruiting; 67 spots higher in the 2024 rankings to be specific.