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Hiring Jon Embree: Will This Bold Move Pay Off For Colorado?

Tomorrow, the University of Colorado will complete a historic move from the Big 12, their conference home since 1996, to the Pac-12. Anticipation and excitement is nearing a boiling point for fans and students at the school as they anxiously await the new conference alignment. However, all of those good feelings will fade quickly if the football program comes out of the gates in September with an inferior product. Because of a schedule considered by many to be one of the toughest in the country there will (or should be) some leniency in the win loss column, but fans must see an improved, better run team take the field in 2011.

In a move that Mike Bohn and the University hope will "restore the glory" to the once proud Buffaloes football program, former Buff tight end Jon Embree was hired in December to try and pick up the pieces from the disaster that was the Dan Hawkins era. Embree, who was coaching tight ends for the Washington Redskins last season, was embraced as a strong hire by a majority of Buffalo fans, but was met with a collective "eh" from the national media. Coaching at The University of Colorado brings a unique set of challenges that supporters think that Embree is fully capable of understanding and addressing. He is a Colorado lifer (born and raised in Denver, played at CU) who has just been handed the keys to his dream job and he hasn't been afraid of the expectations that come with that. His first decisions in the position included hiring a staff that was "Colorado to the core", including new offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, a move that the alumni adored. 

"The plan was always to be back here," he said. "That was always the plan. This is the only job I've ever wanted."

Once the actual football starts, all eyes will be anxiously fixed upon this new team that takes the field. With Embree's (and Bienemy for that matter) lack of coordinator or head coaching experience, a start similar to Hawkins awful opening loss to Montana State in 2006 would allow doubt to creep quickly into the minds of observers, fair or not. Embree will be given his chance to succeed and this season will not be the year by which his hire is defined. But in order to leverage the momentum that has been built because of the move to the Pac-12 and to allow fans and administrators to believe that the right hire has been made, the 2011 Colorado Buffaloes must prove that they have turned their backs on the last six years and that they are hurtling towards a return to glory.