Jon Embree knows a little something about CU football – it is capable of so much more than it has recently shown.
Embree was a tight end for the Buffs in the 1980’s and an assistant coach for CU for ten years. He worked with three different Colorado head coaches: Bill McCartney, Rick Neuheisel, and Gary Barnett. During the 2001 season with Barnett, Embree saw the Buffs win their only Big 12 Conference title. He coached the receivers at UCLA in 2003, and was the assistant coach, offensive coordinator, and tight ends’ coach there for the 2004 and 2005 seasons. He left his job as tight ends’ coach with the Washington Redskins to return to Boulder.
Embree has seen the CU football program grow since he was a player, but decline in recent years.
“Yeah, we’re not where we were, but we’re a heck of a lot better than when I got here,” Embree said. “It was hard watching what happened with the program [over the past two years.] I have nothing against Dan Hawkins, but we need to improve things.”
According to C.U. Chancellor Phil DeStefano, when it comes to returning Colorado football to glory, Embree is fit for the job.
“He is the right person to lead our program at a key moment in its history,” DeStefano said. He will make it possible for “the student athletes to compete in the winning tradition of the Pac 12 and return [the team] to its national prominence.”
For University of Colorado president Bruce Benson, selecting a coaching staff from within the Colorado family was a crucial decision.
“[Embree] is a great example of growing our own talent. He will lead our effort to go ‘back to the future’… and return CU football to greatness,” Benson said.
CU’s athletic director Mike Bohn also remarked on Embree’s strong potential.
“He has leadership, integrity, and a commitment to academic focus,” Bohn said.
Embree is not the only CU Buff returning to the program, however. Colorado football’s all-time leading rusher, Eric Bieniemy, will be taking over as offensive coordinator.
Embree and Bieniemy worked together in the 2001 and 2002 seasons under head coach Gary Barnett.
Embree is looking forward to working with Bieniemy again to bring the luster back to Colorado football.
“We have the same goals and the same passions,” Embree said. “We speak the same language when we talk football.”
For the new coaching staff, the biggest challenge will be making the Buffs believe that they can win again.
“It’s not going to be easy, but it’ll be worth it,” Embree said. “There are no excuses… we’re going to be disciplined on both sides of the ball.”
Assistant coach Brian Cabral, who took over as interim head coach after Hawkins’ firing, will also remain on staff.
Embree emphasized the need to have someone with a history in the program as head coach.
“If [the coach] is not a Buff guy, how are they gonna know about the passion and the details. We got a glimpse of that when Cabral took over,” Embree said.
As Colorado prepares to join the Pac-12 Conference, Embree and the rest of the coaching staff will work to recruit talented players and raise the bar in practice.
“Colorado is a well-kept secret, but it won’t be that well-kept for long,” Embree said. People are gonna know about us.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Caryn Maconi at Caryn.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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