Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Quick (ish) Thoughts on Jon Embree

I was initially disappointed with this hire. Even had EB been the one tagged to lead the program, I would've expected Embree to join the staff, so I'm not totally unprepared to see Jon Embree on the East sideline of Folsom next year.  However, Eric Bieniemy was my 1st choice from the outset (with the caveat that I thought we couldn't get Les Miles), and the fact that he isn't the apparent choice to take over the program is a little confusing.

I admit I am a little pre-disposed to favor a candidate like Bieniemy over a candidate like Embree.  EB has a  national profile, has a higher profile current position (running backs are "sexier" than tight ends), and is a known excellent recruiter.  I even have a photo of him up on my wall at work. I am comfortable with the mention of the Eric Bieniemy name because I hear it often, and it means something in the greater sporting world. 

Conversely, I knew next to nothing about Jon Embree.  While I've been a CU fan since the mid-90's, growing up 1000 miles away kept me relatively distant from the goings on of the program until I showed up on campus in the fall of '02, and even then I didn't get comfortable with the pros/cons of the coaching staff until well after Coach Embree moved on to bigger and better things.  Sure it's ignorance on my part, but I think it's an ignorance that is pervasive amongst the CU community.  If people revert to what they know, then it's no wonder that I and many other people would prefer Bieniemy over Embree.  Simply put, you hire Bieniemy and ESPN puts his name up and his highlight reel on SportsCenter; you hire Embree, and everyone goes "who" and the headline disappears quickly.  It's a shitty way to qualify candidate, but it's the way of the world, and it's why I've consistently over-looked Jon Embree during the coaching search.

Now that I'm getting a good look at him through articles, and listening to his heartfelt supporters (especially Mac), I'm starting really warm to him as the new head coach.  In this article, written by the Daily Camera's Kyle Ringo (who gets a gold star for not going out of his way to talk about who we didn't get unlike John Henderson of the Denver Post), Embree is presented to me as a family man who has built his entire career around positioning himself for this job.  The man once volunteered his time to coach CU football!  This man love CU and loves the program.  In addition, his work with the Buffs 4 Life program is not only impressive, I assume it's a large reason for his hiring.

(Embree from the good ole days.  From: ESPN)

While I still think Bieniemy is a perfect fit for the job, I'm starting to realize that Embree is just a good of a fit. This is what I wrote about Bieniemy a few weeks ago when I named him #1 on my wish list:
Eric Bienemy - Vikings RB and Assistant Head Offensive Coach - He's got it all: the CU pedigree, the recruiting background, Pac-12 footprint experience from his UCLA days, coaching experience at all levels, NFL gravitas from playing and coaching in the league, the Mac-father's blessing, the donor backing, and, most of all, a cheap-ish price.  Bienemy wouldn't come in here looking for an exit after 2-5 years, he'd be here for the long haul.  Some may question his problems with the community during his playing days, but that was in the past.  He's a proven recruiter, and he can lead the program with the passion of a "True Buff." - link
What about that can't you say about Embree?  Maybe not the emphasis on recruiting, but everything thing else in my EB justification stands true for JE as well, and I feel moved to acknowledge that.  Embree is just a good of a candidate as EB is on paper, and if JE "hit a grand slam" during the interview process, as has been reported, then it makes since that he would get the job.

Now all that remains is to get EB on board as the Offensive Coordinator and we're set.  Since EB really wanted the job,  I'm expecting it to be more difficult than supposed to get him into the OC chair.  When word leaked that Embree had the job, there was a deafening silence from people connected to EB about whether or not he would still be coming.  A few days earlier, Ringo had dangled the possibility that EB wouldn't just fall in line behind Embree like most assumed.  In fact, In a Ringo article that I'll refer to later, Ringo again brings up EB's status, dropping "It is believed that Embree will still take the job even if Bieniemy can't be convinced to return to his alma mater as an assistant coach to his friend, but Bohn and the search committee would like to know who would be the second choice as offensive coordinator if Bieniemy turns down the job." If EB is considered so vital to CU's continuing interests, why wasn't he the one getting his name leaked out yesterday by the Mac-father?  I know that's what I'd be asking myself if I was Eric Bieniemy right now; it's his dream job too you know.  What I'm saying is that EB is going to have to get paaaiiiiiiiid to come here and continue to sit in an assistants chair.

Regardless, I'm on board with this hire.  I'm not going to get caught up in the fact that I didn't get who I want, and I'll stand behind my fellow alums as they take over the reins of the program. Time to really tap into that "Bonanza" that Mac's always referring to...

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