Jon Embree joined the list of college head coaches to lose their jobs on Sunday, when Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn announced that Embree had been fired after his second season as Buffaloes head coach.
Embree, who played tight end at Colorado in the ‘80s under legendary head coach Bill McCartney, went 4-21 as head coach, including a discouraging 1-11 record this year.
Although the Buffaloes’ struggles were definitely disappointing, Embree and the rest of the coaching staff knew that this would be a huge rebuilding project, which makes Bohn’s decision to fire Embree after just his second season a bit of a head-scratcher. Add in the fact that Embree said again and again that Bohn had assured him that his job was safe, and the result is a very odd situation in Boulder.
I firmly believe that Embree got a raw deal at his alma mater, considering the fact that Colorado was in the process of adjusting to playing PAC 12 opponents week in and week out. Now that he is out as head coach, who will Colorado turn to now to lead the team in the rebuilding process? Here are five names that Bohn should have on his radar:
Jeff Tedford, former Cal HC – Tedford, who was fired last week following the Bears’ 62-14 loss to Oregon State to end the season 3-9, was rumored to be a candidate for the Buffaloes’ offensive coordinator position before the head coaching job opened up. Tedford knows how to build a PAC 12 program and run it right shown by his 82-57 record at Cal, and although things didn’t end like most would have hoped in Berkeley, it is obvious that Tedford knows what it takes to win out west.
Dennis Erickson, former Arizona State HC – More than likely a longshot for this job, Erickson has plenty of experience coaching PAC 12 football, posting a 74-58-1 in stints at Washington State, Oregon State, and Arizona State. Now sixty-five years old, it is unclear whether or not Erickson would be interested in taking on a rebuilding project of this magnitude, but it could very well be that Colorado is the best job available.
Mark Helfrich, Oregon OC – Helfrich has been the offensive coordinator of a Ducks’ team that has been absolutely dominating the PAC 12 under his leadership, and although head coach Chip Kelly calls the plays, it is undeniable that Helfrich has played a role in their success. Easily the most talked about PAC 12 assistant as far as head coaching potential is concerned, Helfrich may set his sights on a job that’s a little better than Colorado, but as they say, nothing ventured nothing gained.
Noel Mazzone, UCLA OC – A prototypical football coach ever on the move, Mazzone has held jobs with twelve different teams, including three current PAC 12 teams (Oregon State, Arizona State, and UCLA). Now in his thirty-third season as an assistant coach, Mazzone has never held the title of head coach at any level, meaning that an offer from a struggling Colorado team may end in him accepting.
Bob Stitt, Colorado School of Mines HC – Also rumored to be a candidate for the offensive coordinator position before Embree’s firing, Stitt has done an excellent job as Orediggers head coach, posting a 90-57 in his thirteen seasons as head coach. Stitt’s teams have been noted for the consistent success on offense, which is made obvious by the team’s average of 39 points per game. Compare that to the simple fact that Colorado never scored more than thirty-five points this season, and you’ve got yourself a Division II coach that just may make a huge step up.