Before we get into football and the Embree discussion... first, we should have another look at how long it took men's basketball to recover after we did that with Ricardo Patton... with a reminder that basketball can be turned around more quickly than football.
CU Men's Basketball (Patton Era)
|1996-97||22-10||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1997-98||13-14||No postseason (7-9 in conference)|
|1998-99||18-15||NIT 2nd Round|
|1999-00||18-14||NIT 1st Round|
|2000-01||15-15||No postseason (5-11 in conference)|
|2001-02||15-14||No postseason (5-11 in conference)|
|2002-03||20-12||NCAA 1st Round|
|2003-04||18-11||NIT 1st Round|
|2004-05||14-16||No postseason (4-12 in conference)|
|2005-06||20-10||NIT 1st Round|
|2006-07||7-20||3-13 & last place in conference (lame duck year)|
Due to things that were going on in the program during that lame duck year and the number of guys who transferred out or were booted after Bzdelik took over, we ended up with scholarship losses from APR failure. It took years to build it back up, especially in a situation where no academic risks could be taken.
CU Men's Basketball (Post-Patton Era)
|2007-08||12-20||3-13 & last place in conference (Bzdelik)|
|2008-09||9-22||1-15 & last place in conference|
|2009-10||15-16||6-10 & 6th place in conference|
|2010-11||24-14||NIT Semifinals (Boyle)|
|2011-12||24-11||Conference Champions & NCAA 3rd Round|
After a lame duck year in basketball, it took 3 years to get back to the level of the previous coach's worst seasons (other than his lame duck year) and another 2 years before we were able to surpass his greatest success.
Football's a more difficult one to analyze. In Embree's case, it can almost be argued that 2005 was the Barnett lame duck year (sort of, it was in flux as no one knew whether he'd be extended or fired) and that the HaLkins era was a continuation of that with the program hitting a glue sniffing addict's rock bottom in 2010. Embree also inherited APR issues, as Bzdelik did.
CU Football (Barnett Era)
|Season||Result||Notes||Recruit Class Rank after Season (Rivals)|
|1999||7-5||Won Insight.com Bowl||n/a|
|2000||3-8||(no players from Mac Era still in program)||n/a|
|2001||10-3||Won Big 12 (finished #9 in nation)||#10|
|2002||9-5||Won Big 12 North (finished #21 in nation)||#19|
|2003||5-7||Embree & Bieniemy had left for UCLA; rape accusations scandal gets ugly in January following season||#74|
|2004||8-5||Won Big 12 North & Houston Bowl||#43|
|2005||7-6||Won Big 12 North & Lost Champs Sports Bowl (Mike Hankwitz coached bowl game)||#48 (signed with HaLkins)|
Dan HaLkins Error
|Season||Record||Notes||Recruiting Class Rank (Rivals)|
|2007||6-7||Lost Independence Bowl||#15|
|2008||5-7||#48 (momentum gone after missing bowl)|
|2009||3-9||HaLkins reported to be fired before Thanksgiving game & then decision reversed by administration||#66 (lame duck class)|
|2010||5-7||Last 3 games coached by Brian Cabral (2-1 record)||#74 (signed with Jon Embree, who had under 2 months to recruit)|
Jon Embre Era
|Season||Result||Notes||Recruiting Class Rank (Rivals)|
|2011||3-10||Schedule ranked top 5 most difficult in nation||#36|
Last, let's take a look at the 2010 lame duck recruiting class from HaLkins when the bottom fell completely out of this thing. There are a few bright spots, but it's pretty awful.
2010 Football Recruiting Class
|Prospect||Position||Rivals Stars||Rivals Rating||Notes|
|Jered Bell||CB||3*||5.7||Limited PT as a frosh; Soph year & following spring lost to knee injury|
|Keenan Canty||WR||2*||5.3||Redshirted; Limited PT in 2nd year|
|Justin Castor||K||2*||5.3||Didn't win PK job; lost kickoff job during 2nd year|
|Cordary Clark (Allen)||RB||2*||5.2||Redshirted; switched to TE, then DE; left program before 2012 season|
|Kaiwi Crabb||OG||3*||5.6||Redshirted; enters 3rd year as a backup on OL|
|Donnie Duncan||ATH||3*||5.6||Never made it to CU - Academics|
|Justin Favors||TE||2*||5.4||Never made it to CU - Academics|
|Henley Griffon||TE||2*||5.4||Redshirted; Left CU after 2011 spring|
|Evan Harrington||LB||3*||5.5||JUCO; limited PT in 2010; starting FB in 2011; graduated|
|Nick Hirschman||QB||3*||5.6||Redshirted; limited PT in 2011; 2 broken feet and missed spring 2011|
|Tony Jones||RB||3*||5.7||Redshirted; #2 RB in 2011; expected 2012 starter|
|Trea Jones||RB||3*||5.5||Never played; transferred to Towson|
|Alex Lewis||OT/OG||3*||5.5||Grayshirted; limited PT in 2011 at OT and blocking TE; expected 2012 LG starter|
|Harold Mobley||TE||3*||5.7||Redshirted; left team in spring 2011|
|Daniel Munyer||C/OG||3*||5.5||Redshirted; limited PT in 2011; expected 2012 OG starter|
|Dakota Poole||DE||none||none||Canadian rugby player signed late; redshirted & left program due to injury in spring 2011|
|Kirk Poston||DE/DT||3*||5.5||Redshirted; not sure he has ever gotten on the field|
|Paul Richardson||WR||4*||5.8||Committed to UCLA & enrolled early; dismissed for incident & enrolled at CU before 2010 season; potential star who will miss at least beginning of 2012 with knee injury|
|Eric Richter||OG||3*||5.7||JUCO; redshirted then switched to DT; hasn't played|
|Kyle Slavin||TE||3*||5.5||Redshirted; limited PT in 2011; projected backup in 2012|
|Terrel Smith||S||2*||5.4||Spot starter in 2010; limited PT in 2011; potential starter in 2012|
|Justin Torres||RB||2*||5.2||Played well in 2010 until he got homesick and quit team|
|Chidera Uzo-Diribe||DE||3*||5.7||Limited PT in 2010; spot starter in 2011; expected starter and playmaker in 2012|
|Lowell Williams||LB||3*||5.5||Redshirted; special teams contributor in 2011; expected backup & ST guy in 2012|
It's clear that Embree inherited a situation that was at least as difficult as what Bzdelik inherited for basketball. I'd say that it's much worse, but at least CU has a tradition in football as a Top 25 all-time program with a run in the 1990s when we were a Top 5 program for the decade. It's easier to re-build off fairly recent success than build something that's never been, so I'll call the tasks even.
But as Kentucky has shown, in basketball you can beat juniors and seniors with freshmen and sophomores. That's not the case in football. And CU can't short-cut the process by recruiting JUCO athletes, since it's about impossible to find more than a couple a year who meet eligibility standards on transferrable credits and for whom you can then win recruiting battles. So even if the tasks are even (probably a stretch), it's fair to say that it takes 2 years longer in football.
What that would translate to is that CU Football, even if it's a huge success story like CU MBB has been, probably won't be in a position to win a conference title until Embree Year 6 or 7 (2016 or 2017). When Bill McCartney inherited a similar situation from Chuck Fairbanks, it took him until his 4th season to have a winning record and until his 8th season to win a conference title.
Are CU fans patient enough for this process? Will we enthusiastically be there supporting our young team through the good times and bad as it grows over the next couple seasons? Can we acknowledge that if Embree delivers a winning record before 2014 that he's ahead of the standard set by Coach Mac?