The Time For Accountability Is Now

Before the University of Colorado can move forward with hiring a new head football coach, a lot of questions need to be answered. The primary one remains: What self-respecting candidate is going to be willing to take over this program?

Colorado just fired a lifelong Buff, and while tribal loyalty is not a good reason for maintaining a failed coach, it ought to justify giving the coach his rightful third year on the job. Embree was a great player and assistant coach for the University of Colorado, and he accepted a five-year contract (at a discount) to resuscitate his once proud program. Make no mistake – the program was in shambles upon Embree’s appointment as the 24th head coach in school history in December 2010.

Your faithful correspondent only wishes that these realities merited a third year at scenic Folsom Field.

Both Embree and I are going to be okay. Embree is a fantastic tight ends coach, and he certainly will be given another opportunity to prove his worth on the sidelines. However, the University of Colorado and specifically athletic director Mike Bohn have serious issues to address prior to being a viable destination for any elite coach in America.

For Bohn, the first step in this process is honestly addressing the failures of Embree and the program in the last 23 months. This will require a lot more than I have heard so far today. In his press conference and an interview on The Drive at 104.3 The Fan, Bohn could only muster that “trajectories” were not right, glaringly avoiding taking personal responsibility or addressing what the university will do to support its next coach. Neither Bohn nor his supervisors have made any effort to clarify what the university will do to recruit on a level playing field with their Pac-12 brethren, or how they will expand fundraising.

As a season ticket holder, Colorado tax payer, and avid supporter of all things Buffalo, I want answers. It is perfectly reasonable for a collegiate athletic department to fire a coach with a 1 – 11 record. However, it is patently unreasonable to do so under the conditions in which Embree was fired.

Embree just finished the second year of a MINIMUM four-year rebuilding project. He only had the chance to patch together one recruiting class (in less than three weeks in 2010 – 2011) and fully recruit one additional class last year. Embree was in the midst of putting together this year’s class to balance out his unbalanced roster and had some initial success, especially given the program’s struggles this year. The choice to remove him from his position now undermines all progress he made in creating a talented roster from the sophomore class on down.

In the wake of one very committed Buffalo’s unceremonious removal, Mr. Bohn has opened up a can of worms that he probably should not be permitted to close. I cannot imagine “home run” candidates (Bohn’s previous words, not mine) will be champing at the bit to replace Embree. Witness the school’s pipe dream of hiring recently deposed California coach Jeff Tedford, a fanciful notion given the resources that will be on offer.

At last, the University’s athletic department and school administration must now choose to make a full commitment to the future success of its football program. Mr. Embree was the collateral damage of this dysfunctional athletic department; failure to correct its shortcomings will only ensure that Embree’s successor will meet the same fate.

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