Colorado has found its man to replace Dan Hawkins as their head football coach. Former Colorado tight end and assistant coach Jon Embree was named the schools new head coach on Monday. From what has been reported, it sounds like the finalists for the position were Embree and former Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy. And if you didn’t have the Buffaloes in your past in some form or fashion, then you need not apply for the job. Former Colorado coach, Bill McCartney, was also given considernation despite being out of coaching since he left Colorado the first time in 1994.
Although Bieniemy didn’t get the top position, he will still be joining Embree’s staff as offensive coordinator. He will, however, finish out the season as the Minnesota Vikings running backs coach.
Also announced as part of the staff are two more former Buffs who were also on Hawkins' staff, running backs coach, Darian Hagan and linebackers coach, Brian Cabral. It was Cabral who led Colorado to a 2-1 mark in their final three games as interim coach following the firing of Hawkins. Both Hagan and Cabral are former Colorado players as well which makes it four-for-four on the CU hires with more with Colorado experience expected to be announced later this week.
Embree comes to Colorado from the Washington Redskins where he was serving his first year as tight ends coach under Mike Shanahan. Prior to that, he was the Kansas Chiefs tight ends coach from 2006-2008. The Kansas City job was his first in the NFL after spending all of his coaching years in the college ranks prior to joining the Chiefs.
Embree played for the Buffaloes from 1983-1986 and then spent two plus seasons in the NFL before injuries ended his career. He then came back to Colorado as a volunteer assistant before joining Bill McCartney’s staff full-time in 1993 and coached under McCartney, Rick Neuheisal and Gary Barnett for 10 more seasons before leaving for UCLA for three seasons. Embree has experience coaching wide receivers, tight ends and has been a passing-game coordinator in his career.
The one glaring omission from Embree’s resume is the fact that’s he’s never been a coordinator calling the plays at any of his stops, often times a prerequisite to becoming a head coach. From the outside looking in, it seems CU athletic director Mike Bohn was concerned much more with two things: 1) Getting someone who understood the Colorado culture and bringing them back into the fold, and 2) Getting someone who the financially strapped athletic department could afford. Bohn has said from the beginning some coaches would or could not be considered because they were simply out of the range that CU could afford. Embree fits both categories to a T.
It’s been reported that Embree will make in the range of $1 million per year, although he’s sacrificed some of his salary to ensure he could get Bieniemy and the rest of the staff that he wanted.
The move should be good one considering CU’s upcoming move to the Pac-12. Both Embree and Bieniemy have experience in California from their three years together on the staff at UCLA. But that doesn’t change the fact that after four plus years of the Hawkins era, the culture isn’t going to change overnight. Colorado is 21-40 over the last five seasons. Are the Buffs that far away? Who knows, but Embree knows things have to change. "We're going to change the way we see ourselves," Embree said during his introductory news conference. "We're going to put swagger back in this program. Their job is to help return the luster of this great program. I told them about winning the national championship, that it's one of the best-kept secrets out there."Embree’s first game as the Buffs head man will come on the road at Hawaii of all places before returning to take on Colorado State and Ohio State, both of which will also be away from Boulder in the non-conference schedule. They'll then dive head-first into the new Pac-12 schedule.