Coaching Change at CU – Week One – November 25th to December 1st

From Jon Embree Firing to Flirtations with Butch Jones

December 1st

Cincinnati closes out season with a 9-3 record

Okay, now it’s time to talk with Butch Jones.

Cincinnati earned a share of the Big East title with a 34-17 victory over Connecticut. The Bearcats finished the regular season with a 9-3 record, and at least a share of the Big East title for the fourth time in five years. 

Jones out … or still in? Doeren a favorite … or already packing for Raleigh?

Truly the silly season.

Adam at has as much information as anyone with respect to the search by Colorado for a new head coach. Saturday morning, at 11:00 a.m., Adam posted, with regard to Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren, “His name is picking up steam in conjunction with CU’s opening from what I’ve heard”.

Three hours later, Doeren is the new head coach … at North Carolina State.

Football Scoop has posted … We have confirmed that Debbie Yow interviewed Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren earlier today. Update> Sources tell us Doeren has accepted the job. Further Update> The University has confirmed.

From ESPN … The Wolfpack made quick work of their coaching search, hiring a rising star in the college football ranks. Doeren has done terrific work in two years with the Huskies, going 23-4 overall and 17-1 against MAC competition. His team ended Kent State’s BCS hopes on Friday night in the MAC championship game, winning 44-37 in double overtime.

Northern Illinois ranks No. 21 in the latest BCS standings and is hoping for a top-16 finish to get an automatic spot into the BCS standings. Those chances appear remote.

“Coach Dave Doeren is a highly motivated overachiever who shares our goals to pursue aggressively a high level of achievement in the classroom and on the field of competition,” NC State athletics director Debbie Yow said in a statement.

This season, Northern Ilinois averaged 40.8 points per game and is in the top 15 nationally in rushing offense (ninth), scoring offense (10th), third-down conversions (15th), and total offense (15th).

“I am honored and excited to join the Wolfpack. NC State has world-class facilities and fans that are second to none,” Doeren said in a statement. “I want to thank chancellor [Dr. Randy] Woodson and Debbie Yow for this tremendous opportunity. My family and I can’t wait to get to Raleigh and become Wolfpackers. While I look forward to our future at State, I want to acknowledge and thank the Northern Illinois players and fans for their support the last two years, especially president [John] Peters and Jeff Compher [athletic director].”

As to Butch Jones of Cincinnati … Football Scoop has stated the following:  A report out of Cincinnati this afternoon stated that Butch Jones will be named Purdue’s head coach as early as Sunday. Our sources call this report “premature”. We do expect Jones to meet with Purdue after Cincinnati finishes their season and we believe it is possible that he will be the new head coach; but don’t believe that has been agreed to at this time.

Cincinnati is finishing up its regular season on the road against Connecticut. Until that game is over, it is all speculation. Once the game is over, though, Saturday afternoon, Jones is fair game.

November 30th

Gary Andersen not going to Boulder … or Berkeley

Utah State issued a press release Friday afternoon stating that the Aggies head coach, Gary Andersen, would be staying with Utah State …

While there was no word on any type of pay increase for the coach himself, the contract will include raises for all of Andersen’s assistants.

“I plan to remain the head football coach at Utah State University,” said Andersen in a statement. “The interest I have received is a compliment to the quality young men in this program. Their hard work and dedication has built a culture that will enable us to continue to be successful at a very high level moving forward.

“I love Cache Valley, this university and these young men, and I am humbled and excited to continue to be the coach here. The leadership of President (Stan) Albrecht and Mr. Barnes, as well as the support from the fans and community, are big reasons why this is the right place for myself and my family at this time.”

Andersen is 25-24 in his four years at the school, with his most successful season being the latest.  The Aggies won 10 games for the first time in school history, and won a conference championship — in the final year of the WAC — for the first time since 1936.

Utah State is currently ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press poll, No. 22 by the coaches and No. 24 in the most recent set of BcS rankings.

Add Cincinnati’s Butch Jones to the list …

UPDATE: Per Kyle Ringo tweet … “Sources say Colorado plans to interview Cincinnati coach Butch Jones early next week” … It is also being reported, though, that Jones plans on meeting with Purdue on Sunday, so we’ll see.

From Michigan Live … Former Central Michigan University and current Cincinnati football coach Butch Jones was not hired as the new Kentucky football coach, but he remains one of the hottest coaches mentioned as programs try to fill head coaching positions.

Kentucky hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, but Purdue and Colorado have both been mentioned as potential destinations for Jones, who is in his third season at Cincinnati.

According to, Purdue has already offered Jones the position that was left open when the Boilermakers bought out Danny Hope’s contract. Jones, 44, is 49-27 as a head coach with just one losing season. He has taken his teams to bowl games in five of his six seasons as a head coach.

Purdue was 6-6 this season.

Former Cincinnati coaches have done well in moving on, with Mark Dantonio leaving Cincinnati to lead Michigan State and Brian Kelly moving on to Notre Dame.

Jones’ name has also been mentioned in connection with the Tennessee and Auburn jobs, while the opening at Colorado has been added.

Denver Post columnist Woody Paige advocated a Jones hire, citing his success, ability to recruit and exciting offense. Brigham Young coach Bronco Mendenhall is also considered a possibility for the Colorado job. “On a scale of one to 10, Butch is an 11,” an athletic director at a major school in another section of the country told me Thursday. “A lot of schools are going after Butch because he’s a special coach, and Colorado could not do better.”

Another source, on the West Coast, said the Buffaloes have identified Jones and BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall as viable contenders to replace Jon Embree. “Both are winners,” the source said. “They’d be major coups for (Colorado athletic director) Mike Bohn.”

From … Jones has not returned calls and UC athletic director Whit Babcock said in a text message Thursday night that he would not comment on other schools’ coaching searches.

Sources say that UC is trying to rework parts of Jones’ contract in an attempt to keep him. Included in those talks is a guarantee that Nippert Stadium will be renovated within a defined period of time. Babcock would neither confirm nor deny that UC is trying to redo Jones’ contract.

Jones signed an extension at the end of last season that keeps him under contract through 2017. He has a $1.4-million buyout clause in his current contract if he leaves before Jan. 1. His guaranteed compensation for 2012 is $1.575 million. That goes up to $1.6 million in 2013, but he can make more than that with incentives. He will receive an additional $50,000 for making a non-BCS bowl appearance this year, plus $8,000 for having eight wins and a $25,000 bonus if UC wins a share of the Big East championship.

Two more names to consider …

Dan Mullen, head coach, Mississippi State … Mullen is 29-21 in four years as the head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, including an 8-4 record this season.

More on Mullen, from the Mississippi State website (from the beginning of the 2012 season) … In just three full seasons, Dan Mullen has revitalized and reenergized the Mississippi State fan base. From the moment of his introduction on Dec. 10, 2008 as the 32nd head coach in school history, supporters have turned out in record numbers and capacity crowds to support the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State fans have sold out a school-record 16 consecutive home games at Davis Wade Stadium. Each of the last two years have seen the school’s attendance record broken. In fact, 13 of the school’s top 15 crowds have occurred in the last three years, with all six crowds last season ranking in the top 15 all-time. The Bulldog faithful have gone on to watch the head coach lead the Maroon and White’s football program to back-to-back postseason bowl wins for the first time in over a decade.

Just three years into his tenure, Mullen (.553) is already the winningest coach at State since Darrell Royal in 1954-55 (.600), and is already tied for sixth in school history for wins by a MSU head coach (21). On top of that, Mullen has dominated the Egg Bowl rivalry, becoming just the second MSU coach and the first since Sid Robinson from 1917-19 to start off 3-0 against Ole Miss in the Battle for the Golden Egg.

Mullen was widely regarded as one of the top young minds in college football when he arrived at Mississippi State, and he brought not only an impressive offensive resume and a list of NFL-developed quarterbacks, but also an energy and passion for the college game.

Improvement wasn’t limited to fan enthusiasm, as Mullen ignited the Bulldogs to a nine-win season in just his second year, and then another successful season in 2011. With Mullen’s masterful offensive mind this past year, the Maroon and White broke the school record for passing touchdowns in a season (19) and finished second all-time in school history in total offense and first downs. Additionally, the offense finished in the top 10 in passing yards, completions and completion percentage.

In 2010, State won six games in a row in the middle of the season and finished among the top 10 in school history in the following categories – passing yardage, completion percentage, passing touchdowns, rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, total plays, total offensive yards, per-game offense and first downs. The defense also amassed the 10th-highest sack total in school annals.

The 2010 Bulldogs closed out the season with nine victories including posting the largest margin of victory in a bowl game in school history. The resounding 52-14 Gator Bowl win against Michigan capped a truly remarkable year.

With the nation’s toughest schedule in 2009, State’s rushing attack, led by first-team all-Southeastern Conference selection and current NFL running back Anthony Dixon, finished ninth nationally with a 227.6 rushing yard average per game. State averaged 371.9 yards of total offense per game, the ninth-highest total in school history and the most since 2000 at the time.

Jim Grobe, head coach, Wake Forest … Grobe is 73-74 in 12 seasons at Wake Forest, including a 5-7 record this past season. Before taking on the Wake Forest job, Grobe was 33-33-1 in six seasons at Ohio University.

From the Wake Forest website (from before the start of the 2012 season) …

Wake Forest head football coach Jim Grobe is entering his 12th season at the helm of Demon Deacon football in 2012.

After 11 seasons, Grobe has built a football program that has been to bowl games in four of the last six years and proven itself to be an annual contender for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Grobe has taken the Deacons where no previous Wake Forest football coach has gone. He has led the Deacons to more bowl games, more eight-win seasons, and more bowl victories than any coach in school history. Grobe and the Deacons put together a three-year streak of winning seasons which had not been accomplished in over 50 years. The Deacons’ 33 wins from 2006-09 are the most wins ever during a four-year period.

With a record of 68-67 at Wake Forest, Grobe is the first Deacon coach in more than 50 years with a career record over .500.

The success of the Deacons over the last 11 seasons comes as no surprise to those who have watched Grobe build the Wake Forest program from the ground up. He turned the Deacons into a championship team within his first six seasons.

There have been numerous notable achievements by Grobe and his staff. Among those are the 11 wins and the ACC Championship claimed by the 2006 team, along with a trip to the FedEx Orange Bowl. Linebacker Aaron Curry and punter Ryan Plackemeier have been honored with national awards signifying their supremacy as the best player in the nation at their position.

The 2011 season saw the Deacons return to a bowl game for the fourth time in six years as the team went to the Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl and put together a 5-3 ACC record as well as a 6-7 overall record during a turnaround season. Wake Forest set a school record for passing yards (3,291) and took care of the ball well – a Jim Grobe trademark – tying for first nationally with national champion Alabama in fewest fumbles lost (4) and surrendering just 12 turnovers to tie for third in the country.

And take Charlie Strong off the list …?

According to a tweet from Mark Johnson, KOA’s Voice of the Buffaloes … “I’m told there’s nothing to the Charlie Strong chatter out there. Lotta smoke… no fire.”

Scratch one more from the list?

Perhaps. It was a longshot for Strong, anyway. Colorado can’t offer much more in the way of dollars than Strong’s current gig at Louisville, and the Cardinals are abandoning ship in the Big East for the much more stable, and potentially lucrative, ACC. With an ACC affiliation, Strong knows that he would be in just as good a position for a national championship and/or a BCS bowl as he would be with the Pac-12 Buffaloes.

And, he wouldn’t be starting from scratch …

November 29th

Charlie Strong buyout expensive

Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, coaching the Cardinals against Rutgers in Thursday night’s Big East championship game, received a contract extension from Louisville in October, 2011. The contract raised his base salary to $2.3 million, and has an expensive buyout clause.

So, for Buff fans hoping that Charlie Strong would rather coach in the Pac-12 than in the ACC (where Louisville is heading in 2014), there is more than just the base salary to consider. There will also be a seven figure buyout of Strong’s contract.

From the ESPN story in October, 2011 (kudos to Darth Snow at AllBuffs for tracking down this archived story)  … The University of Louisville has agreed to a new seven-year contract with football coach Charlie Strong.

Strong is in his second season at Louisville and his current contract ran through the 2015 season. The new deal increases Strong’s base salary from $1.6 million to $2.3 million.

“The University of Louisville is the place I want to be, and most importantly, is where my family wants to be,” Strong said in a statement released before Tuesday’s practice.

He called the new contract “very humbling.” He said he’s very appreciative of the opportunity Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich gave him the opportunity to become a head coach after 27 years as an assistant. He won two national championships in his seven seasons as Florida’s defensive coordinator before joining the Cardinals.

Strong led Louisville to its first bowl game in three years — a 31-28 win over Southern Mississippi in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl — in his first season. Strong was named co-Big East coach of the year in 2010.

Jurich said in a statement Tuesday that he likes the direction the program is going and that Strong’s work ethic and passion has impressed him.

The AD said Strong’s new contract would be backdated to July 1, carrying the new contract through June 30, 2018.

Strong’s original contract signed Dec. 9, 2009 included a retention bonus of $1.25 million and a $1 million annuity starting at age 65 should Strong still be the Louisville coach on June 30, 2015. Those provisions remain and additional retention bonuses of $1 million in 2016 and $200,000 in 2017 and 2018 were added if Strong remains the coach on June 30 of those years.

A sliding buyout remains in Strong’s contract but has been boosted. The maximum buyout was previously $1 million and has been raised to $2.5 million should Strong terminate the contract before June 30, 2012. The minimum buyout jumps to $1 million from $200,000 if Strong were to leave in the last two years of the contract.

Achievement bonuses remain from the previous contract for bowl appearances, conference championships, Top 10 and 25 finishes, coach of the year honors, and BCS bowl games. Incentives related to the academic performance of his teams also remain.

Senior defensive end Greg Scruggs said the new contract shows Strong is here to stay if another school comes calling for his coach.

“This is what Coach Strong wants to build up,” Scruggs said. “It’s not like this is a stop-and-go for anything. Coach Strong wants to make this his empire. Coach Strong wants his mark to be on this university.”

November 28th

Rumor Mill

Okay, so what’s the latest?

The only thing I know for sure … you know about as much as I do.

This is harder than recruiting rumors, as there are as many rumors as there are coaching candidates.

Bobby Petrino, former Arkansas head coach … CU athletic director Mike Bohn, when asked if CU had contacted Bobby Petrino: “That’s absolutely not true. We’re not hiring Bobby Petrino. You can quote me”. … Sounds pretty definite, even though Vic Lombardi tweeted this morning that CU was interested …

Gary Andersen, Utah State … He’s in; he’s out. He’s a candidate for the Cal job; he’s a candidate for the CU job. He’s not interested in leaving Logan. According to, “Sources close to Utah State head coach Gary Andersen tell us that he should not be considered a candidate for the Colorado job.”

Jeff Tedford, former Cal coach …  According to Kyle Ringo at the Daily Camera … “A source close to former Cal coach Jeff Tedford says he has no interest in the Colorado job. Views it as too tough for numerous reasons”. Would be a tough sell for some Buff fans as well, taking a recycled Pac-12 coach.

Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State … Only a head coach for one year, but it was a good one, taking a Bulldog team from 4-9 to a 9-3 record and a bowl … and let’s not forget the 69-14 demolition of the Buffs in September. DeRuyter and CU athletic director Mike Bohn were both at Air Force together in the 1980s. DeRuyter was previously the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M for two years (2010-’11). The Aggies improved from 104th in the nation in scoring defense in 2009 to 21st in 2010.

Mark Mangino, former Kansas coach … Mangino won 50 games in eight seasons at Kansas from 2002-’09, including a 12-1 mark in 2007. He reportedly reached out to Colorado and expressed interest in the Buffaloes’ opening, and even expressed interest in possibly joining the next staff as offensive coordinator. Mangino doesn’t fit the profile of a “current college head coach”, which is reportedly Bohn’s first choice. UPDATE: from … Mark Mangino just tweeted that he has “asked to be taken out of consideration” for the Colorado job. That’s an interesting move.

Charlie Strong, Louisville … Would certainly stem the racism argument … Thing is, Strong is already making over $2 million per year with the Cardinals, so it would take a large check to lure him to Colorado. May be high on the Bohn wish list, but then again, so is a $125 million facilities improvement … Tonight, Strong denied talking with Auburn, which is a much better gig than Colorado.

Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois … After leading Northern Illinois to 22 wins the past two seasons, Doeren is popping up as a candidate for a number of the coaching openings across the country. He has drawn a look from Colorado. In an interview with SiriusXM earlier this month, Doeren said he would be open to other opportunities. He might not qualify, though, as a “splash” hire, and would be seen as Dan Hawkins lite, a mid-major head coach … with even fewer years of proven success.

Gus Malzahn, Arkansas State … One of the top candidates for Auburn’s opening, Malzahn is 8-3 in his first season as the head coach at Arkansas State. He was previously the Tigers’ offensive coordinator from 2009-’11, and helped them to a national championship in 2010. While it would make for an interesting Rocky Mountain Showdown – former Alabama coordinator v. former Auburn coordinator – but it might be a tough fit for Colorado. Malzahn is not known as a people person, and the Buffs need some good p.r. from its new head coach.

Buyout for Embree and Bieniemy to come from loan from the University

So, it wasn’t a major donor coming up with the money to fund the buyout …

From the Daily Camera … University of Colorado officials confirmed Tuesday the athletic department will receive its third loan from the school in the past seven years to cover the costs of firing coach Jon Embree and possibly parting ways with offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

The loan of $2.4 million is roughly the total cost of the buyouts for the three years remaining on Embree’s contract and the three years remaining on Bieniemy’s deal.

Athletic director Mike Bohn met with Embree’s assistants on Tuesday and told them they will all remain employed until the next head coach has a chance to evaluate them and decide whether he wants to retain them. If they are let go, they will be offered severance packages.

“Our coaches are working hard to continue the recruiting process with the upcoming class and helping out existing student athletes process the coaching transition,” Bohn said. “All new assistant coaching positions will be determined by the new head coach.”

Embree is owed $1.625 million and Bieniemy would be owed $812,500 if he is not retained for a total of $2.437,500.

CU fired Embree on Sunday after the Buffs went 1-11 this season and lost most of their games in blowout fashion. Embree was 4-21 in his two seasons at the helm and lost 15 games by 20 or more points.

The athletic department previously received an $8 million loan in 2006 to help with the costs of paying off former coach Gary Barnett who was fired at the end of the 2005 season and paying other debts the department owed.

When the school moved from the Big 12 Conference to the Pac-12 in 2010, the campus and the CU System loaned the department $10 million to help defray the costs of the conference change and paying $2 million buyout for former coach Dan Hawkins

The athletic department has received money every year from its conference’s television revenue and money generated from bowl games in football and the NCAA tournament in men’s basketball.

When the school left the Big 12, it forfeited approximately $7 million and the following year it did not receive any distribution from the Pac-12 for its first year in the league, which meant it was short the $9.5 million it had been averaging in conference distributions previously.

Bohn said the department is about halfway through the process of paying off Barnett and Hawkins and will now add Embree to the tab.

CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said the cost of switching conferences and coaching changes are not the only reasons for the loan. He said the athletic department has increased expenses by adding a women’s lacrosse program, a new marketing position and several new positions for academic advising. The cost of scholarships also rose this year because of tuition increases.

The department also saw football revenue decrease by more than $2 million because of decreased ticket sales.

November 27th

One name (apparently) taken off the list …

According to published reports, Utah State head coach Gary Andersen is staying put in Logan.

From the Logan, Utah, Herald-Journal … What a classy guy and guess what Aggie fans?

That’s right. Gary Andersen is not going anywhere for now. He will be on the Utah State football sidelines in 2013.

Shortly after his 2012 Aggie team made school history Saturday on Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium, Andersen told The Herald Journal he likes both Logan and USU, and is not going anywhere.

“I love where I’m at and I don’t have any intentions or aspirations or reaching out to people to go (anywhere else),” Andersen said. “I love the job. That’s basically my stance on it right now and I’ve said that all along.

“This isn’t a good place, it’s a great place, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to be the coach here for a long, long time, and away we go.”

That has to be music to any Aggie fans’ ears. So much for those rumors about Kentucky or California or wherever. Andersen is staying put for now.

First of all, he has some unfinished business. The Aggies will be playing in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for the second straight season. This time he wants to leave Boise, Idaho, with a win.

While some Buff fans might be disappointed at losing the opportunity to sign Andersen, there is this side benefit … Remember that Utah has taken BYU off of its future schedules, but kept Utah State. Here’s wishing Mr. Andersen continued success against his in-state rivals!

November 26th

Bohn looking at a current college head coach

CU athletic director Mike Bohn has excluded some of the candidates whose names have been bandied about as replacement options for the new head coach at Colorado.

Bohn said in a radio interview Monday that he has a favorite in mind for the job and it’s a current college head coach. This would seemingly rule out coordinators from other schools (e.g., Noel Mazzone from UCLA, Justin Wilcox at Washington, Pep Hamilton at Stanford), former head coaches (e.g., Jeff Tedford from Cal, Mike Bellotti from Oregon), as well as outside the box hires (e.g., Jack Del Rio, defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos).

Bohn also excluded coaches who have run into serious trouble with the NCAA in the past such as Jim Tressel and Bobby Petrino.

Which leaves us with …

Troy Calhoun at Air Force, Sonny Dykes at Louisiana Tech; Dave Doeren at Northern Illinois; Gary Andersen at Utah State; Mike McIntyre at San Jose State; Charlie Strong at Louisville; Bob Stitt at Colorado School of Mines … and perhaps others?

Associated Press take on Monday’s CU press conference

What the nation is reading about the press conference held Monday at the University of Colorado …

BOULDER, Colo. — A choked-up Jon Embree suggested Monday that the only way he could have turned around the University of Colorado’s flailing football program in his two years as head coach was to take shortcuts in the classroom and on the recruiting trail.

“If you just hire the next guy and say you’ve got two years, keep your fingers crossed,” Embree said at his farewell news conference a day after being fired.

Athletic director Mike Bohn, who fired Embree less than two years after he signed him to a five-year deal, said, “Shortcuts are not going to be an answer and we’re not going to hire a coach that expects to use shortcuts.”

What he does expect is a quick turnaround from a free-fall that saw the Buffaloes thumped by an average score of 48-17 in the Pac-12 during a 1-11 season that was the worst in the program’s 123-year history.

In some ways, Embree’s quick hook might have had a lot to do with the administration patiently sticking with his predecessor, Dan Hawkins, through five losing seasons, resulting in the proverbial bare cupboard.

Bohn bristled at that notion.

“Jon’s results were extremely revealing in a very short period of time, and the prowess of the Pac-12 conference revealed it a lot faster,” Bohn said.

Embree, who gets a $1.625 million buyout, suggested he got a raw deal, pointing out he only got 1½ recruiting classes to turn around a program that had been down on its luck for several years.

Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said he appreciated Embree’s passion for the program but said it just wasn’t working out.

“It’s performance and progress. And unfortunately, this year, we didn’t see either,” he said.

Bohn pointed to a program that was headed in the wrong direction both on and off the field, going 4-21 under Embree, with so many blowouts leading to too many empty seats, though he insisted boosters had nothing to do with this decision.

“Our boosters’ resources have never been a factor in my tenure,” Bohn said. “Although the erosion of our fan base and the ticket sales certainly doesn’t help.”

Bohn said he had no preferred candidate in mind but acknowledged the school would have to pay more than Embree’s incentive-laden deal that was worth $741,000 annually plus bonuses of up to $200,000 for reaching off-the-field goals and up to $1 million for meeting on-the-field benchmarks.

Bohn said he was still forming a search committee but wanted to make a hire as soon as possible.

Embree, a star tight end for the Buffs in the 1980s, was fired Sunday night, 48 hours after a 42-35 loss to Utah left them without a home win for the first time since 1920.

In a news conference at Folsom Field that lasted more than an hour, Embree began by addressing players who had packed the Varsity Room at the Dal Ward Center and telling them to keep up the good fight without him.

“You had the highest GPA the last three semesters that this school has ever had in the football program. You stayed out of trouble. You guys represented yourselves well,” Embree said. “You set a legacy and a standard, and as I told you guys when we’re going through tough times, you’re not judged by the scoreboard at the end of the day.

“I was. But you won’t be.”

Even though he’d been stripped of his powers, Embree was still coaching his kids, using the first seven minutes of the news conference to speak directly to them.

Asked if the next coach can win in Boulder, Embree retorted, “How long does he have?”

Embree embraced dozens of his players on his way out of the room and was followed at the microphone by Bohn and DiStefano with university President Bruce Benson listening in on speaker phone while on vacation.

“Jon is a dedicated alum of the university and the Colorado Buffaloes with a passion for his students and the athletic program as a whole,” DiStefano said. “And if this decision were based on passion for CU and dedication, there’s no doubt that Jon would be coach for life.

“But it also has to be based on progress and results, which we simply did not see enough this year,” DiStefano continued. “And so we looked at the performance on the field and did not see the development and the cohesion nor progressive strategy that gave us confidence in the future, and that’s why this decision was made.”

Embree said six of his coaches offered to resign in order for him to keep his job.

He said he was disappointed because had been given assurances when he was hired that he’d be given the time needed to turn around a downtrodden program. He said that support changed suddenly Saturday night in a phone call with Bohn.

“All I was told (Sunday) was the trajectory of the program wasn’t what they wanted. And my response was, `Well, what was the trajectory of the program before I was hired?” Embree said.

Defensive end Will Pericak said the players are angry over Embree’s dismissal.

“Not a fair chance at all,” Pericak said. “Embree needed another year, absolutely.”

Most players filed out after Embree left, but kicker Will Oliver stuck around and didn’t like what he heard when Bohn spoke about the importance of a third year in turning things around, a chance he didn’t afford Embree.

“It seemed like a lot of political jabber,” Oliver said. “I don’t know what I just listened to for 30 minutes, to be completely honest. He might figure this out. I guess we’ll find out soon.”

Embree had just eight seniors on this year’s team, and in addition to a staff makeover, he was planning to switch to a spread offense and tweak his defense next year.

“We went up against some really good teams that we weren’t quite able to match up with,” Embree said. “And some of it was just physical differences. We were young. Some of it, we had injuries. But at the end of the day, there was never any quit. They fought to the last play. They did a good job of not looking at the scoreboard.”

The administration, though, sure did.

And Ted Miller’s view of things at ESPN …

Jon Embree didn’t win many games as Colorado’s football coach, but he won the news conference Monday that formalized his termination.

Fired after just two years leading the Buffaloes, Embree, fighting off tears throughout and picking his words carefully, cut an effectively defiant and sympathetic posture, while athletic director Mike Bohn and chancellor Phil DiStefano struggled to articulate not only their reasons for firing Embree but also why anyone would want to replace him.

The latter part is the biggest issue going forward. Colorado will be hard-pressed to lure a top candidate to Boulder, and not only because of its quick trigger here. Colorado lags behind other Pac-12 teams in terms of facilities and has limits on multi-year contracts for assistant coaches due to state law. Further, Embree was the conference’s lowest paid coach by a wide margin, his $725,000 being pretty much less than half of what every other coach in the conference was making annually.

And it was less than a third of what the top coaches were making.

Further, Bohn, aggressively cross examined by reporters, struggled to avoid making the job sound like an uninviting one.

“We’ve had headwinds with this program for quite some time, and we continue to have them,” Bohn said.

Embree said stories that he was fired because he wouldn’t let go members of his coaching staff were untrue.

“That’s one of those Internet rumors,” he said, adding that six assistants had offered to resign if that helped Embree’s own cause.

Embree, who went 4-21 over the past two season, repeatedly defended his rebuilding job, saying that the program was vastly improved in every way but the scoreboard. He talked about “doing things right” versus going for the quick fix.

“There are a lot of things you can do that circumvent doing it the right way,” he said, noting that some coach would resort to recruiting “mercenaries.”

The issue of race also was part of the news conference. Embree said he noted to Bohn, “[Black head coaches] don’t get second chances.”

As for what reason he was given for his firing, Embree said, “All I was told was the trajectory of the program wasn’t what they wanted.”

In his opening statement, Bohn, after a heartfelt acknowledgement of the difficulty of the decision — “We desperately wanted it to work,” he said — then awkwardly described the decision in business school jargon.

“In the end, it’s about our functionality and the way our enterprise is run and the proactive approach we are trying to take to try to be competitive,” he said.

He also spoke about the program’s lack of momentum and the erosion of the fan base.

Awkward, in fact, describes the news conference perfectly.

Embree is a former Colorado player, yet he was coldly cast aside after being told that his job was safe. He feels wronged. And for good reason. He clearly has the sympathy of his current players, many of who attended the news conference to show support, according to reports.

Now the pressure moves to Bohn, who will be hiring a third coach since 2005. One side of the Buffaloes fan base is angry at him for dumping Embree after just two years, and the other half is angry at him for hiring a coach he’d have to fire after just two years, thereby inviting nationwide criticism.

Embree, of all people, perhaps provided the most optimistic footnote to the uncomfortable afternoon.

He said, “We’re going to be — I still say we — we’re going to be a good team next year.”

Embree/Bohn press conference

“Thank you to the players,” began a teary-eyed Jon Embree at his press conference Monday. “You guys have given me a lot and thank you for letting me help you guys become men. We talk about the heart of a buffalo, keep that with you at all times.”

“I’m going to miss these kids,” Embree said when asked what he was going to miss the most, “Getting to impact 112 kids, which you don’t get to do as a position coach”.

“I tell the players this all the time and I mean it. I love them and I treat them lke theyre my own kids. Thats what makes this hard”.

“It is obviously disappointing sitting here today,” Embree said. “I did things the right way. We had the highest GPA the last three semesters that the school has ever had I want to thank my staff, my support staff. My football staff, you did the best you could and I appreciate that.”

“As we move forward, I’ll always have (the players’) back and I’ll do anything I can for you. I want to thank my family for sacrificing a lot for me to have this opportunity and we’ll be better for it. To my kids, the ones carry my last name and the ones I coach, don’t let anyone take anything away from you. They can’t if you don’t let them.”

Some speculation and information has said that Embree refused to make certain staff changes to appeal Bohn. “There was no conflict,” said Embree. “That’s one of those internet rumors or something. My coaching staff had six of them said if they needed to resign so we could keep the job they would. Those are the kind of men I coached with.”

Embree was then asked to look at the prospects of the next coach.

“How long does he have?” he questioned. “We’re going be a good team next year. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back. The main thing that our guys figured out was about playing hard all the time. We went against some really good teams that we weren’t able to quite match up with at end of the day there was never any quit. They fought to the last play. That mentality I expect it to continue with them through the offseason.”

Alfred Williams asked if Embree was given assurances when hired that he would be able to see it through. Embree said “yes”.

Embree on what is says that so many players showed up to support him: “Maybe they heard me sometimes when I was yelling at them.”

Embree on message to minorities: ‘They just got to be better than I was …A lot of guys took some awful jobs so that I could take this one”.

CU athletic director Mike Bohn: “We desperately wanted it to work.”

On what changed for him and when: “It is not an indication about Jon as a Buff and a person, but when you look at the entire operation, but the discussions about moves with coaches and key pieces within his support staff created doubt about his ability to move things forward”.

“Jon was already making tough calls, and looking at pulling things together, but looking forward to a third year, and the importance of a third year, and if you don’t have the momentum to make a significant move”.

On having two coordinators and a head coach without experience: “All their different pieces of their resumes were impressive, but it didn’t work out”.

Resources and boosters “not a factor” in the decision to fire Embree.

We don’t have a specific ties to head coaching or coordinator experience”

CU Chancellor Phil DiStefano … on giving athletic director Mike Bohn another shot at hiring another coach, having hired Hawkins and Embree … “There have been some extremely good hires, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, soccer” … in other words, Bohn’s other hires have been good enough to offset the failed hires of Hawkins and Embree.

DiStefano: “We didn’t hire Jon because he’s an African-American and we didn’t fire Jon because he’s an African-American.”

DiStefano says the school is committed to improving facilities and and support for the football program.

All you really need to know about the press conference

Here is a tweet from Jon Wilner, who covers the Pac-12 for the San Jose Mercury News …

If you’re Colorado, do you really let AD Mike Bohn hire the next coach? Aren’t Dan Hawkins and Jon Embree enough evidence against him?

The media is going to town on Bohn.

Holy crap, the Prez is now having to defend Bohn. This is a disaster.

And this from Matt Hayes at the Sporting News:

Matt Hayes ‏@Matt_HayesSN CU has just lapped Auburn as the job no coach wants.

Matt Hayes ‏@Matt_HayesSN
“Our next head coach is watching.” No he’s not. Or he won’t be your next head coach.


November 25th

Jon Embree has been fired as the head coach of the University of Colorado football team.

Embree was 4-21 in his two seasons in Boulder. The 1-11 record posted in 2012 marked the first 11-loss season in school history, and the Buffs suffered their first season without a home win since 1920.

As much as anything, though, it was that the Buffs were, for the most part, not competitive. CU losing margin for the season was 28.1 points per game. Since 1999, just one Pac-10/12 team has been worse (Washington State was out-scored by 31.1 points per game in 2008).

The Buffs were blown out in most conference games, and the 46.0 points per game against average was, by almost five points per game, the worst in school history.

Since Louisiana-Lafayette set an NCAA Division 1 record by allowing 50.3 points per game in 1997, only one Division I team has been worse than CU has been this year. North Texas gave up an average of 47.6 points per game in 2008.

Jon Embree finished his second season as head coach with a 4-21 record. The .160 winning percentage is the lowest of any head coach in Colorado history. The second-worst record, for any coach with at least two seasons in Boulder, was Chuck Fairbanks (7-26, three seasons, 1979-81, .212). No other CU coach in history posted a winning percentage below .400.

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson, Chancellor Phil DiStefano and athletic director Mike Bohn released the following joint statement:

“On Sunday night, we announced the departure of Coach Jon Embree. We firmly believe a change in the leadership in our football program is in the best interests of the University of Colorado, particularly given our goal to compete at the highest levels of the Pac-12 Conference. It was a difficult decision, given Jon Embree’s history with CU, and one we arrived at after considerable deliberation. We appreciate his passion and dedication and wish him the best.

“We strive for excellence in all we do, and the university leadership is committed to doing everything we can to ensure success for our football program, for which we are accountable. We thank you, the entire university community, for your support during this challenging season and call upon you to join us in our efforts for a successful transition and future for the CU football program.”

According to the Daily Camera … Embree and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy both have three years remaining on five-year contracts. CU will owe Embree a $1.5 million buyout. It will owe Bieniemy a $750,000 buyout if he is also fired. The rest of the staff members do not have contracts and are considered at-will employees. In previous coaching changes, CU has offered severance packages for those not retained.

Embree reaction

From the Denver Post … “I’m disappointed. I’d like to get more of an opportunity but life ain’t fair,” Embree said in a phone interview.

Asked what Bohn told him, Embree said, “He said he didn’t feel the trajectory was going in the right direction. I said what direction was it going when I got hired?”

Embree inherited a program that had five consecutive losing seasons under former coach Dan Hawkins. He didn’t believe two years was enough time to prove he could do the job.

Embree said he also told Bohn that as an African-American coach, few head coaching opportunities are offered, and all too often are quickly taken away.

“I mentioned that to Mike. I said, ‘You know we don’t get opportunities. At the end of the day, you’re fired and that’s it. Right, wrong or indifferent. Tyrone Willingham was the only one who got fired and got hired again. We get bad jobs and no time to fix them.”

Embree informed his staff and the team held a meeting at the Dal Ward Center Sunday evening.

Email to season ticket holders:

Dear Valued Season Ticket Holder,

We are making a change in the leadership in our football enterprise and feel this is in the best interests of the program and the University of Colorado, particularly given our goal to compete at the highest levels of the Pac-12 Conference and nationally.

It was a difficult decision given Coach Jon Embree’s history with CU, and one we arrived at after considerable deliberation. The entire university community fervently wanted Coach Embree to succeed. We appreciate his passion and dedication and wish him the best. We strive for sustainable excellence in all we do, and the entire university leadership is committed to doing everything we can to ensure success, for which we are accountable. We call upon alumni, fans and donors to join us in our competitive efforts.

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson
University of Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano
University of Colorado Boulder Athletic Director Mike Bohn

Some player tweets …

Doug Rippy (a departing senior): Wow man I just want to thank Coach Embree for giving me the opportunity to play for the University of Colorado after the last staff! … Transferring Is not always the best option. The grass is not always GREENER!

Tyler McCulloch: Speechless…

Sefo Liufau (CU’s top recruit, a quarterback from Washington state): Why? You may think its the right move but your wrong

Woodson Greer III: Like the great man said, “Life ain’t fair”. Love coach Embree and thankful for all he has done for me and this school. Praying for you coach

Kenneth Crawley: I’ve been through much out here and home and to have to go through this life ain’t fair at all

Sherrard Harrington: Fired the guy that recruited me. Now I’m out here alone in Colorado with my three brothers and no father.

Darragh O’Neill: not happy bout this one bit… “Embree said he had been assured by Bohn that he would be retained” doesn’t surprise me one bit… classless

Christian Powell: im shocked

Paul Vigo: 2013 is going to be a crazy year! Can’t trust no system, let me pick up this bible or somethin!

D.D. Goodson: Wishin everybody could see what he did for us. Embo was a big believer and I appreciate him for that. Can’t do anything but go back to work!

Shane Dillon: So tough to see MY coach and one of MY closest mentors go out like that…proud of my teammates for makin their presence known at the conf

One Reply to “Coaching Change at CU – Week One”

  1. Bohn should have been fired the day after Embree was fired. I liked Embree and EB as players but, hiring three position coaches to be the Offensive and Defensive coordinators and head coach was a horrible reach for a struggling program. Embree and EB both had been position coaches for more then a decade without ever any hint of promoting them above their current positions. No other D-1 school had any interest in them for a head coaching job. Even though two seasons wasn’t really a fair shake, CU had to move on quickly to fix their mistake.

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