As I read accounts of the post game comments following the loss to Stanford, I asked myself the question “what would give me some optimism that the CU football program was headed in the right direction?”
Since the end of the game there have been a number of suggestions on how to move forward: Woody Paige’s column in the Denver Post suggested bringing in the School of Mines coach as offensive coordinator. The CU Athletic Director has indicated that the school was reviewing all aspects of the program and will work to fill “voids” in the program [whatever that means]. Coach Embry tells us we need to continue to endure these dark days with a promise of something better in the undefined future. I don’t find that any of these restores my optimism.
I decided the best thing to do was to assess where the program is now and what we need to do to move it forward.
1) I believe that the Athletic Director has made some great decisions and some bad ones, but he still has my confidence going forward. His management of the basketball program and the move out of the Big 12 to the PAC 12 were great …. football hires not so good.
2) I believe that the decision to hire a former player with limited coaching experience was one of the bad decisions made. While I believe that Coach Embry bleeds black & gold and desperately wants the program to succeed (beyond just to save his job), he was placed in a situation that he was not prepared for and has failed to adjust.
3) We should recognize that there are two distinct periods in the CU program delineated by the end of the Gary Barnett era. Following the Barnett era, there were significant changes to how the football program is allowed to operate in reaction to the recruiting and other issues uncovered at the university. Right or wrong, these changes have placed CU in a position that it can never compete on a regular basis with other major football programs. It does not appear to me that the current coaching staff has recognized that the football landscape has changed and many of the athletes that would have played for CU in the past will play elsewhere because of controls & changes implemented by the school. They are attempting to run a program that they have not and will not recruit the talent to succeed. Compounding this problem is the lack of a major donor or donors to benefit the program (see Boone Pickens & OSU Cowboys).
4) Furthermore, I call into question their credentials in judging talent. How many mediocre quarterbacks do we have on the roster this year? We’re all hopeful that Shane Dillon is the answer next year, but do any of us have confidence in the ability of the staff to evaluate talent after seeing this year.
Where does CU go from here? It appears the administration believes that Coach Embry should be retained for a 3d year with some changes on the margin (i.e. replacing an assistant coach or two). I’m afraid that doesn’t give me much sense of optimism going forward. If we follow this course, how does the administration measure success in 2013? Does it take a 6 win season to save Coach Embry? If he fails to meet that mark or whatever the definition of success is and is replaced where is the program at that point other than another year further behind.
While I hate to say it, I just don’t see any reason to retain the current coach other than he seems to be an honorable man who given enough time will improve things.