Monday, December 06, 2010


The Boulder Daily Camera story of CU's hiring of Jon Embree and Eric Bieniemy which appears below took me back to 1982 when I accepted a position as Associate Professor of Biology at CU's Colorado Springs Campus. On my last day at the University of Texas MD Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, I wrapped up my experiments in the Department of Developmental Therapeutics, hung up my personalized monogrammed white lab coat and headed down to the awaiting limo.  My wife and I and our three young children were whisked to Hobby Airport where we were greeted by Jim Null, Dean of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Bob Catlett, Chairman of the Biology Department and Don Van Horn, Professor of Biology and search committee member.  We were soon airborne in the private jet, winging toward Colorado Springs.  We shared many thoughts of the future of the department and college, and the kids enjoyed all of the snacks and the views.  Since I was a graduate of the University of Colorado Health Science Center in Denver, it was like coming home.  Rather than landing at the municipal airport, the University had negotiated with the Air Force Academy to use their airstrip.  We were greeted at the USAFA by Chancellor Don Schwartz, Vice Chancellor Jack Sherman and Biology Professor Jim Mattoon and their wives.  The Vice Chancellor's office had planned an evening for the kids so that the rest of us could head downtown to the El Paso Club to meet with a gathering of the city's movers and shakers - Penrose, El Pomar and USOC folks, a couple of Regents, etc.  The fellows even had a moment to go to the men-only "back room" for a cigar and some cognac.  All of the details of my salary [the highest paid Associate Professor in the College], relocation incentives, laboratory set-up and housing allowance were announced, and then I said a few words about how awesome it was to be back in Colorado and how I was looking forward to helping build the reputation of the Colorado Springs campus.  We rejoined our children and spent a few days at the Broadmoor whilst we did some house-hunting. 

Now the more factual story of CU's hiring of Jon Embree and Eric Bieniemy, who together will make more in one year than I did total during my 20+ years at CU  :-)

Jon Embree and Eric Bieniemy came home Sunday night.

Colorado's new head football coach and offensive coordinator spent their afternoons coaching on the sidelines in two different NFL games in two separate cities -- Embree in a loss, Bieniemy in a win -- before jumping on a private jet with athletic director Mike Bohn and flying to Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield where they arrived just after 9:30 p.m., on a partly cloudy, cold December evening.  They were greeted by CU President Bruce Benson and Chancellor Phil DiStefano and their wives with warm smiles and firm handshakes and a sense of hope for the future.

"It's awesome," Embree said, still standing on the tarmac after climbing out of the small, white jet with six windows on each side. "I wish we were playing next week."  Bohn and Embree left New York after Embree's final game as tight ends coach with the Washington Redskins. They flew with Embree's wife, Natalyn, and daughter, Hannah, and Dr. David Clough, chair of the school's search committee, to Minneapolis to pick up Bieniemy where he coached with the Minnesota Vikings against Buffalo. There were plenty of smiles on the plane during the final leg back to Boulder where both Embree and Bieniemy starred in college in the 1980s and cut their teeth as assistant coaches earlier in their careers. They will be introduced as the future of the program today at a 10 a.m. press conference on the suite level at Folsom Field.  Bohn was impressed enough with the two men to offer them the jobs and bring them back to Boulder, but after listening to them talk football and recruiting for two hours on the plane together, he was even more satisfied with the choice.

"Their football acumen is impressive," Bohn said.  Now the two coaches are charged with restoring a once proud program that has endured five consecutive losing seasons under former coach Dan Hawkins, who was fired last month.  Embree will meet with his players at the Dal Ward Center this morning before he is officially presented as the 24th coach in the program's history.

"It's a special moment," Embree said. "When I first started coaching, I wanted to come back and be the head coach here at Colorado. It's always been a special part of my family and my life. The opportunity now, along with my staff, to help restore the luster to this program is an exciting challenge."  Embree and Bieniemy both agreed to five-year contracts late Saturday night and the terms of those deals should be available today or as soon as they are approved by the Board of Regents. Embree's agent, Boulder-based Jack Mills, said Embree will not make as much as Hawkins was being paid. Hawkins was scheduled to make about $1.4 million in guaranteed compensation this year.  Bieniemy will be the highest paid assistant coach in CU history at approximately $500,000 a year, a source said. He also will receive a signing bonus.

"Very excited," Bieniemy said when asked how he felt about returning to his alma mater. "You think about a lot of the good times. Winning here as a player and winning here as a coach. I remember coming back here when we were at UCLA. It was probably the hardest thing I had ever done just walking on that field knowing I was going to be on the opposite sideline.

"I'm just excited about the challenge more than anything. It's going to be fun working with Embo. This is something we've dreamed about and talked about for a long time. Now it's become a reality and we've got to go out there and make it happen."  The only other confirmed member of the coaching staff is longtime linebackers coach Brian Cabral. Embree said he has a good idea of who will make up the rest of his staff, but he wants to talk to members of Hawkins' staff before he finalizes the coaching lineup.

"I'm hoping Wednesday, maybe Thursday to make formal announcements," he said.  Embree said asking Cabral, who has served as interim head coach over the past month, to stay on and continue coaching linebackers at CU, as he has done for 22 seasons, was a no-brainer.  "Brian showed what he was about in these last three games," Embree said. "Part of the deal is you've got to have a heart for this place. I think that helps breed success and to be able to help kids understand why you do things a certain way. I think it's just important to have someone like Brian Cabral as part of your staff. He's a tremendous coach."

Embree said he hopes to take the NCAA recruiting test that all coaches must pass before they are allowed to recruit off campus by Tuesday and hit the road in-state by midweek.  "There is a certain kid in-state that I want to go see at his house," Embree said. "I'm anxious. I've heard he is a very good player and had a very good season. I'd like to go see him and other in-state kids who are committed and the ones aren't. I want to go see them and see if they want to be a Buffalo."

Note:  My parody was submitted to both the Boulder Daily Camera and the CU Faculty and Staff Newsletter, and both declined to publish it - interesting.......


Steve Heller said...

Ohio State lists 458 people in its athletic department. Included are the athletic director (who's also a vice president of the university), four people with the title senior associate athletic director, 12 associate athletic directors, an associate vice president, a "senior associate legal counsel for athletics" plus a nine-person NCAA compliance office. NCAA rules are complex, to be sure, but does Ohio State really need nine people who do nothing but push NCAA paperwork? The Ohio State NCAA compliance staff is lean and mean compared to the football staff, which includes 13 football coaches, a director of football operations, three associate directors of football operations, a "director of football performance" and three football-only trainers.
How do these numbers compare to academic departments at the school? There are 192 faculty members in Ohio State’s English department with a support staff of about 50. Thus the Ohio State athletic department has roughly twice as many people as the Ohio State English department. [Hat tip to Gregg Easterbrook.]

Dr S said...

Primo E - amazing numbers, eh? In today's Boulder paper, a reader commented on the ridiculous number of assistant coaches, including a "tight ends coach" which meeans that there is one specialty coach for 2 or 3 players. If all of my classes had 2 or 3 students, I am fairly sure that their learning experience would be exceptional :-)

A Buff said...

Wow - here we are exactly two years later and Embree is history. Lots of news and chat about his firing, including racism. Sad news is that CU is now paying millions to two former head coaches. Glad basketball is going well, at least for the moment.