Just days before Colorado’s Nov. 23 loss to the University of Utah, which would be Jon Embree’s last game as head coach, CU Independent sports reporter Scott Annis sat down with Embree to discuss his coaching philosophy. On Nov. 25, CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn fired Embree from his head coaching position after two years at the helm.
Below is one of Embree’s last interviews before he found out he would not return to the team in 2013.
How do you motivate? How do you lead your team?
Part of it you like is the leadership to come from the team. What I try to do is set some standards so they know how to prepare, how to conduct themselves. Then we have a leadership council that is made up of guys that are from freshmen to seniors, walk-ons to scholarships. Just guys we know do things the right way, and we try to empower them to help lead the team.
How involved are you in practice? Do you let your assistants run it, or do you?
I run the practice, but they will do the coaching. I will coach players if I see certain things happening. I will help correct them or encourage them or whatever it may be during the practice. Generally I set it up with an outline — we call it a script, basically it is an outline of what we want to take place. Then I just oversee and make sure that it does. We have periods that are timed. So if I want to repeat plays, I may tell them to hold the clock.
On game day, do you call the plays? How involved are you?
I’ll suggest some plays on both sides, like when to blitz or if I want a deep pass or something like that, but I generally let my coordinators do their thing.
When you came to CU, was it hard to implement your philosophy instead of the old one, or were they similar?
No, it was different. When you are trying to create a different culture or environment, you always have a little bit of a transitional period, and I feel like for the most part we are through that transition.
Did you model your coaching philosophy on anyone? Did you have any role models?
There are a lot of guys that I’ve worked with. They did things good and maybe not so good that I’ve tried to use. But at the end of the day, you have to be you, and you want the players and the coaches to understand that’s who you are. You don’t want to try to be a hard guy to one kid and a softie to another. You have to have consistency with how you handle people and interact with them, and the only way you can do that is to be yourself.
How has your philosophy changed over this season?
It changes every year. You always have to be willing to adapt because circumstances and situations will dictate that you can’t just be rigid. Now your standards need to stay the same, but how you implement things or how you go about interacting with people has to be something that you’re always changing and always evaluating.
How involved are you in the offseason program?
Very. Very involved. They will be in the weight room and doing stuff there, but that’s where I can be more involved with the football aspect of what I want us to do on offense and defense. Then we do a coaches’ week. We do spring football, which I can be more involved in, because it’s more of a teaching thing because we don’t have games. We’re just practicing against each other.
Do you see yourself as more of an Xs and Os coach or more of a players coach?
Right now it is player. More about relationships and helping the kids. As we continue to grow, I want to get more of the Xs and Os back.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Scott Annis at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org.