Jon Embree, Colorado Buffaloes Part Ways Leaving More Questions Than Answers

By James Gomez
Jon Embree Colorado Buffaloes
Ron Chenoy-US Presswire

Before the Colorado Buffaloes played the Sacramento State Hornets I opined that Jon Embree’s job was on the line. Odd that there would be any worry against a mid-level FCS opponent so early in the season. In Embree’s case, 2012 was a fight for his job that he had no chance of winning. Yesterday, the second year head coach was dismissed from the Colorado football program.

Before the season began, CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn stated his goal for this years’ Buffs was a six win season with a bowl appearance. The AD made this proclamation on the radio station I work at, 104.3 The Fan in Denver.

At the time, I was incredibly surprised that Bohn would set the bar so high, especially after a 3 win 2011. The prediction was bold considering the tenuous quarterback situation, a star receiver with an ACL tear, and the youngest roster in the Pac-12. Oh, throw in a difficult Pac-12 schedule, including a bevy of ranked and improved teams, six wins was lofty to say the least.

Further consider that Embree had never been a head coach before, or even a coordinator. A long-time assistant in the NFL and college football with the most recent decade spent on the CU staff.

The biggest question in front of CU is where do they go from here? After signing multi-year contracts with both Embree and his predecessor Dan Hawkins, the CU athletic budget is being stretched rather thin. How the Buffs can pony up the cash needed to lure a name coach is a major question mark.

In a letter to alumni, Chancellor Phillip DiStefano explained Bohn’s decision to part with Embree. After a 1-11 finish, 4-21 overall, and the first win-less home season since 1920, it doesn’t take Matlock to figure out why. A letter I would like to see is what exactly Bohn and company plan to do moving forward.

Here is an excerpt from the letter published in the Denver Post:

We will now seek new leadership for our team, and I urge all of you to come together in this difficult moment for our university. We seek an experienced, visionary, and innovative leader – a coach who embraces our values of success and integrity on and off the field, and who can lead us to a Pac-12 championship.

If the goal is compete for a conference championship, the price tag is going to be much steeper than CU football is accustomed to. Embree was pulling in $735k according to USA Today. In 2010 Hawkins was making roughly $1.3 million. Recently fired California Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford pulled in $2.6 million this year.

Of all the coaches in the Pac-12 only the Stanford Cardinal did not release their coaches’ salary to USA Today. With 11 pay grades available, Embree was the lowest paid and the only one who’s salary did not exceed the one million mark.

How can CU compete for a Pac-12 championship on the field when they cannot even compete in coach compensation? Until the Buffs high expectations are met with their wallet, then another cheap coach with limited resources will be asked to change the Buffs fortunes.

Something has to give in Boulder. For the moment, reality it appears, has not yet shown it’s face. And for anyone who has a short memory, CU lost that September game to Sacramento State.

Colorado has a long way to go to compete with any program let alone the Pac-12. How can the school expect to win in one of the toughest BCS conferences without fully committing to do so? Soon the Buffs will hire a new coach. If the goal is really to win a Pac-12 title, than the CU administration better be prepared to spend handsomely for it.

Until then, Bohn is just wasting Colorado’s time.

James Gomez is a Pac-12 and Mountain West columnist for Rant Sports and member of the Football Writers Association of America. You can follow James on Twitter as well.

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