December 02, 2010
Your new head football coach at the University of Colorado: Jon Embree, who was unofficially announced as the new boss today through multiple local outlets by Buffalo coaching legend Bill McCartney and another anonymous sources. Athletic director Mike Bohn swiftly denied that anyone had been hired, but sources called the move "a done deal" that should be officially announced by next Monday. "Embree's going to be the head coach and [former Colorado running back Eric] Bieniemy's going to be the offensive coordinator," McCartney told the Denver Post. "Take it to the bank and hang your hat on it."
Your immediate reaction: Who on earth is Jon Embree?
At the moment, he's in his first season as tight ends coach for the Washington Redskins. But Embree is a born-and-bred Coloradoan: He grew up in Denver, was an All-Big Eight tight end before McCartney converted him into more of a blocker in the Buffs' new wishbone offense in the mid-eighties and spent a decade on the Colorado staff under three different head coaches from 1993-2002. The last two of those years, he worked alongside ex-Buff great Eric Bieniemy, who later joined Embree on Karl Dorrell's staff at UCLA (Embree's son, Taylor, is UCLA's leading receiver for the third consecutive season) and then in jumping into the NFL ranks.
Bieniemy, now the running backs coach with the Minnesota Vikings, was also rumored to be one of three finalists – along with Embree and Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain – for the head job. Embree's current boss, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, said he was willing to release Embree for the rest of the NFL season because Colorado is his "dream job."
Or, if you go by Bill McCartney's summary of Embree's qualifications, he's "a black man":
"It was never about me [returning to coach] again," McCartney said. "It was about setting the table for a black man to come in (as head coach). And he (athletic director Mike Bohn) hired one. Now, give him a chance."
What he really means is, congratulations on your new job, coach – assuming it actually is your new job. McCartney has some trouble with phrasing every now and then, but his heart's in the right place.
At any rate, if the job is his, Embree will inherit a cash-strapped program facing an even steeper uphill climb in its transition to the new Pac-12 South next year than it's faced in five consecutive losing seasons under Dan Hawkins in the Big 12 North. With last Saturday's loss at Nebraska, the Buffs have gone three full seasons since their last win outside of Boulder, in October 2007. Embree is a gamble: He's never been a coordinator on any level. But if he can reverse the road slids and actually get CU back into the black – in the stands as well as in the standings – he might be around awhile.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.