Jon Embree, Eric Bieniemy land on eve of official CU Buffs football announcement
By Kyle Ringo Camera Sports Writer
12/05/2010 11:35:51 PM MST
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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.
New University of Colorado head football coach Jon Embree,?left, and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy arrive at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield on Sunday night. They will be introduced at a 10 a.m. press conference today at Folsom Field.
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."
Freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson has decided to remain at Colorado. Richardson set several freshman receiving records this season but created confusion after the season finale at Nebraska by refusing to commit to returning to the program in 2011. He has since said he intends to remain a Buff.
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