I’m going to be honest, when word leaked on Friday (by former coach Bill McCartney) that Jon Embree would be named as the Colorado Buffalos new head football coach, my first thought was, who the heck is Jon Embree? The former CU tight end and position coach has never been a head football coach on any level. Embree, along with new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will be tasked with turning the fortunes of a struggling Buffs football program around as it enters the new Pac-12 next year.
After perusing Embree’s bio I know that he has worked in the NFL for the last three years with the Kansas City Chiefs and most recently as the tight end coach for the Washington Redskins. Embree last coached in college at UCLA from (2003-07) and was the assistant head coach/passing game coordinator and receivers coach under Karl Dorrell. Prior to his stint at UCLA, he was a position coach at CU where he tutored the tight ends, receivers, and defensive ends. So, we know Embree’s a CU man who has a long history of coaching in college and in the pros, but we don’t know anything about his abilities as a head coach.
Former Buffalo great Eric “Sleeping with” Bieniemy has more name recognition than Embree but will be coordinating an offense for the first time in his coaching career. Bieniemy is one of the greatest running backs to every wear the black and gold and was an integral part of the 1990 National Championship team. Bieniemy has been a running backs coach for the majority of his career and was a recruiting coordinator for UCLA for thee years. The Buffs new OC coached running backs at CU for two years and spent the last five years as the Minnesota Vikings running back coach. Bieniemy should be well versed in different kinds of offensive strategies including the West Coast offense which the Vikings deploy. Whichever style the former standout running back deploys you can be sure it will feature a strong running game.
This is what we know about Embree and Bieniemy. What we don’t know about them will undoubtedly be the topic of much discussion amongst CU fans and boosters. Hiring a first time head coach is a lot like starting a new quarterback, you never really know what is going to happen in that even the most hyped quarterback can freeze in the spotlight and go down in flames. Hopefully this is not the case with Embree but without any type of track record as a head coach no one knows what offense or defense he will deploy much less how he and his team will perform in the heat of battle but, before he sets foot on the field he’s going to have to set his (hopefully winning) agenda for the CU football program.
The first item on Embrees list after he meets with the returning players is to hit the recruiting trail where his UCLA ties should pay dividends as the Buffs will have to recruit California hard as they are moving into the new Pac-12. He must also secure current verbal commitments that are going to have second thoughts now that a new coach is in place. Valor Christian dual threat QB Brock Berglund should be his first stop. The leader of the 2010 4A Colorado State Champions is a four star recruit who is the best Colorado he will be pursued hard by other teams (including Arizona who had a rep at the State Championship game) and coach Embree needs to sell the standout quarterback on the head coach’s new vision for the Buffs and the Berglund’s place in it.
I must praise CU athletic director Mike Bohn for hiring the first minority football coach in Buffalo football history. I know Embree wasn’t the big name fans and boosters were hoping for but he may be the right choice. Bohn’s future as the CU athletic director will probably be tied to Embree’s success so he knew he needed to pick the right man for the job. The hiring pleased former players and created more diversity for the CU athletic program but, unless Embree wins football games no one will be happy in the end.
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Written by Matthew Stiles