by Josh Wilson
There are currently 12 head coaching openings in college football, with more sure to follow as the NCAA coaching carousel rolls along. Colorado announced Sunday night Jon Embree would be dismissed as Head Coach after a 1-11 season. Embree was in his second year with the Buffaloes going 3-10 previously. President Bruce Benson, Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano and Athletic Director Mike Bohn released a joint statement Sunday stating, “On Sunday night, we announced the departure of Coach Jon Embree. We firmly believe a change in the leadership in our football program is in the best interests of the University of Colorado, particularly given our goal to compete at the highest levels of the Pac-12 Conference. It was a difficult decision, given Jon Embree’s history with CU, and one we arrived at after considerable deliberation. We appreciate his passion and dedication and wish him the best.” Emotions ran high during the announcement and Colorado AD Mike Bohn has been doing damage control ever since. Bohn said of the coaching search, “It’s wide open at this point.”
In 1990 Colorado won its first and only National Championship. The 90’s were a great time for the Buffs, from 1990 to 1999 they went 72-26 (wins in the 97 season were vacated due to NCAA sanctions.) In the early 2000’s, Colorado looked to return to national prominence but that plan was derailed in 2006. Since then Colorado hasn’t had a season better than.500. However, given the right personnel, the Colorado Buffaloes can be a great position. Expectations are tempered unlike other available jobs (NC State just fired a coach who went 7-5), the fan base and potential are there. Colorado, now in the PAC-12, has great opportunities for television exposure. While the PAC-12 is home to powerhouses Oregon, Stanford, and USC, the rest of the conference is usually hit or miss providing a perfect chance to move up to the next level. While facilities seem to be an apparent issue, Colorado isn’t exactly a highly demanding football area, unlike the SEC openings. Colorado would be ideal for a coach who would like to bring a once proud program back to prominence on the West Coast’s biggest stage.
Bohn knows that this hire has to be a big one, given the recent decline of the football program. He also is rumored to have said he knows who he wants and it is a current head coach that doesn’t have any baggage (no Tressel, no Petrino). Following this criteria there are a couple of coaches Colorado might make a play for. Back in 2010, before hiring Jon Embree it was known that Bohn wanted Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. Calhoun knows the area and has guided the Falcons to a 47-30 record during his tenure. My guess this is the guy Bohn was talking about and is his number one with a bullet. Also possibly in contention is Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter, who led the Bulldogs to an outstanding 9-3 in his first season. DeRuyter also in the area could make a big step leaving the Mountain West for the PAC-12. DeRuyter had an impressive resume as a defensive coordinator at Nevada, Air Force, and Texas A&M, improving upon each team’s defenses significantly.
Athletic Directors at any program with a head coaching vacancy will want to act quickly as the December recruiting deadline draws nearer and lesser programs can attract better coaches before possible bigger jobs become available (wait for it, it’s going to happen). Mike Bohn has said he wants to act quickly and when I called him for comment I was told the Athletic Department was very busy and Bohn was not available. Colorado seems to have at least one coach in mind and wants to be quick about it. If the right coach steps in and players buy into his system, the Buffaloes have the keys to come thundering (yeah I did) back into the big stage.