The following has gone out to Bruce Benson, Phil DiStefano, every member of the Board of Regents, and Mike Bohn. As long as it is, it amazes me how much I left out.This article was originally published in blog:
I encourage everyone to circulate it to others in the CU family and to add your own opinions & insights.
We absolutely must do everything we can to try to force change and save our football program.
To: CU Administrative Officials
This season, I have avoided writing as I have in years past. I had decided to remain patient and see how this football season played out before collecting my thoughts and voicing my opinion to you.
I would like to thank you in advance for taking the time to read what follows and giving my arguments due consideration as you evaluate whether Jon Embree should continue as the CU football coach. I apologize for the length, but I wanted to make it more than clear that I am not communicating with you in the heat of an emotional reaction.
First, I want to go back and quickly re-visit the past.
We have several examples at CU of the deep problems that are caused when decisive moves on coaches are not made.
In football, we saw a year of turmoil with Gary Barnett when the direction wavered between extending his contract and terminating his employment. Recruiting that season suffered, as did on-field performance. In the end, it was recognized that the program had stagnated and embarrassing losses to end the season demonstrated that Barnett had lost the locker room. It was time to move on and CU made the right decision. Maybe it would have been better to make the decision a few years earlier and clean house at the time of the scandal, but what was done was done. CU made the right decision in 2005 and fired a coach that took our Buffs to a bowl game that year.
Next, the hiring of Dan Hawkins was a move that was celebrated nationally. The hire did not work out, but it is hard to find fault with the original selection. Even the extension was understandable at the time. Hawkins had secured a Top 25 recruiting class in 2007 following a season that included a victory over a Top 5 Oklahoma team. The 2008 season started undefeated with a win over a Top 25 West Virginia team. Hawkins had one of the top winning percentages among active head coaches, he seemed to have things rolling at CU, and there was an opportunity to lock him in long-term at a low price before another program poached him away. Obviously, things went severely downhill from there and by the 2009 season it became clear that the Hawkins era needed to end.
This is the moment that CU football went horribly wrong. There was an opportunity to fire Hawkins and salvage the 2010 recruiting class with a new hire who would have cache on the recruiting trail. Hawkins had landed the nationís #32 class in 2007, #15 in 2008, and fallen off to #48 in 2009 (Rivals rankings).
A program can absorb one class like that along with the transitional class with the next coach and stay competitive from a talent perspective Ė especially if that next coach has cache and connections within the programís recruiting geography. For example, Hawkins actually kept us from falling off in transition as we went from Barnettís 2005 class rank of #43 with his 2006 transitional class at #48. But there are also examples of what a big-name hire can do. Rick Neuheiselís final class at UCLA was ranked #45 in 2011. Jim Mora Jr. turned that around quickly with a couple months for the 2012 class and brought in the nationís #13 class for last year. CU fans know first-hand how impressive UCLAís freshmen were when that team came to Folsom this year.
CU made a mistake in 2009. Sticking with Hawkins, the 2010 recruiting class was lost before it started. No prospects were interested in hearing from CU and our lame duck Coach Hawkins. The sub-par 2009 recruiting class of #48 fell to #66 in 2010 as a no-name hire like Jon Embree was unable to salvage things in the short time he had. To give an idea of how bad a #66 ranking is, CSU was ranked #58 that same year even with Fairchild in the midst of his run of 3-win seasons.
Please donít repeat the mistake of keeping a failing coach an extra year.
Second, letís look at the present Embree Era.
Embreeís first season finished with a 3-10 record. While most of us were able to excuse that performance based on the talent gap we knew was there and the time it takes to change culture as well as implement systems, there were bad signs within that bad record. CU had 18 seniors for the 2011 season, many of them on offense. It was hard to stomach watching a veteran offense with a number of players who ended up in NFL camps finish with the nationís 92nd ranked yardage offense and 109th ranked scoring offense (out of 120 FBS programs).
This season, the program has become a national laughingstock. Against a rebuilding CSU, the offense that was revamped in the offseason to be similar to Oregonís was unveiled. No huddle with play call boards signaling things in from the sideline. It was such a failure that it was scrapped by halftime to never be seen again. CU loss. This was followed by an inexcusable home loss to Sacramento State, an FCS program that finished in the middle of its lower division conference. Next came Fresno State, another rebuilding program with a 1st year head coach. They set all-time scoring records against the Buffs in a laugher. Relief came when Washington State imploded in the 4th quarter after dominating the first 3. That 1-point win against a dysfunctional rebuilding program that is 2-9 (0-7 in Pac-12 play) is the highlight of the season and the results since then have been spectacularly bad.
In the 6 games since then, CU has been beaten by 25 or more points ever single week. First it was UCLA beating CU 42-14 at Folsom. Then, a Thursday night national audience saw Arizona State turn a 20-17 halftime lead into a 51-17 laugher. USCís Barkley set a single-game passing completion % record in a 50-6 drubbing of CU. Oregon showed all the mercy it could by only winning 70-6. Stanford shut the Buffs out 48-0 at home, the first Folsom shutout in 150 games dating back to 1986. Stanford has scored 13, 13, 21 and 17 points in its other 4 road games. Next came a trip to Arizona that saw a 56-31 loss to a team with a defense rated almost as low as CUís by giving up over 43 points per game in Pac-12 play entering our contest. Arizonaís running back, KaíDeem Carey had 400 yards of offense in that one (Pac-12 record 366 rushing plus 5 TDs). Last, Washington just missed another home shutout of CU in a 38-3 win. This is a Washington team that hadnít score more than 21 on the road all season and was giving up an average of 39 points in road games. Sadly, despite those numbers Washington came into Folsom as 31 point favorites.
To sum up this season:
6 straight losses by 25+ points
Loss to a middling FCS (1AA) team
Zero home wins Ė CU hasnít lost every home game since 1892
7 losses by 25+ points
4 losses by 40+ points
And thatís not the worst of it. CU is ranked last (120/120 qualifiers) in the NCAA FBS in both scoring offense and scoring defense. CU is 11th or 12th in the Pac-12 in 14 of the 17 major statistical categories, 9th in 2 others, and 5th in Net Punting. The lone bright spot is that a decent punter has put the Buffs in the middle of the conference in a single category.
Thereís another measure called the UPS Team Performance Index that looks at the full measure of a team: Offensive yards/play, Defensive yards/play, 6 Special Teams categories, 4 categories that represent Miscues, and also Success (which is winning percentage). Of the 120 FBS programs ratedÖ CU ranks #120 and has a lot of ground to make up on #119 Idaho.
As historically bad as this is, some try to make the argument that Embree needs more time for his recruits to develop. They say that he needs to build a foundation of new players and restock the talent cupboard.
That is not happening. This staffís great strength was supposed to be recruiting. Recruiting has failed.
2011 transitional class got no bump from the hire: #74 (#12 in Pac-12)
2012 class that everyone points to: #36 (#8 in Pac-12)
2013 class thatís in progress: #64 (#11 in Pac-12)
I understand that the Rivals rankings are suggestive rather than definitive. There are certainly flaws in the system. But even taking the ďstarsĒ they assign to players, we can look at the other programs that have reportedly offered scholarships to the players committed to CU this year:
Bryce Bobo: Idaho
Elijah Dunston: Nevada, New Mexico State, Wyoming
George Frazier: Fresno State, San Jose State, Washington State
Jimmie Gilbert: Iowa State, New Mexico State, Tulsa
Gunnar Graham: Eastern Washington, Iowa State, San Diego State, Utah, Utah State
Jonathan Huckins: Iowa State
Sam Kronshage: Duke, Louisiana Tech, SMU, Texas State
Phillip Lindsay: Utah
John Lisella: Air Force, Northern Colorado
Sefo Liufau: no other offers
Marcus Loud: Houston, Iowa State, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Missouri, TCU, Texas Tech, Wake Forest
Devin Ross: Boston College, Hawaii, Iowa State, Minnesota, Nevada, San Diego State, Utah
Colin Sutton: no other offers
Thatís 13 commits. Other than Marcus Loudís offer list, the only offers for any of our committed prospects from BCS programs that have winning records this year came from 6-5 Duke and 6-5 Iowa StateÖ historically awful programs.
This is getting worse, not better. Talent is suffering under Embree and promises to be worse in the 2014 recruiting class if a change is not made now. With a new coach, thereís a chance to salvage the current recruiting class a bit while also parlaying the excitement of a new coaching staff to what we saw in the first Hawkins or Embree full classes (nationally #32 and #36, respectively). Without that, weíre looking at another class in the 60s or 70s.
I have heard it said that what we see with the program is growing pains from Embree inheriting a team with sub-par talent. That talent is getting worse.
I have heard it said that we are seeing growing pains from implementing new systems and culture. The record and the execution show the team getting worse.
I have heard it said that Embree is digging a deep foundation to set CU football up for long-term success. In the final analysis, everything points to this actually being Embree digging a grave deep enough to bury a Top 25 all-time program.
Please do the right thing for CU football. Fire Jon Embree. Hire a reputable coach who has recruiting cache in our region. Invest in the program. And put CU football back on the right track.
This isnít just about football, itís also about what football means for a university as numerous reports such as Sundayís 60 Minutes special have illustrated. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50135410n
In closing, I must unfortunately add that I have reached a breaking point. Without a new coaching staff, increased support for the AD infrastructure, and investment in a facilities project that will put CU football on par with its BCS peers, I can no longer justify my 3 season tickets in neither Sec. 218 nor my additional donations.
If CU refuses to take its football seriously and make a commitment to the enterprise, I also refuse to do so.
The first step is firing Jon Embree and his staff. Make this happen. No half measures.