Kyle Ringo
Kyle Ringo

Jon Embree has some explaining to do this week.

But he is not alone.

Every college football coach in the nation whose recruiting class is not ranked in the top-five or 10 nationally by the major recruiting services has the same problem.

If you and your staff managed to recruit the 12th best class in the nation, many in your fan base want to know why you couldn't get into the top 10. If you're at 20, they want to know what kept you out of the top-15.

It's the nature of this particular beast. Few are ever satisfied with where their program stands, and those that are satisfied at the moment, won't be that way for long because the process starts all over again before the signatures on this year's national letters of intent are dry.

A lot of people in my business like to look down their noses at fans of recruiting for daring to care so much about the college choices being made by 17 and 18-year-old young men. They fail to realize that these fans are really no different than the zealots who spend hours worrying about who their favorite, NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL team will draft.

How well you do in recruiting -- just as in the draft at the pro level -- is an indicator of where your team might be in the future.

It's not the only indicator and certainly isn't something to be losing sleep over, but it is an indicator to be sure.

There are politics involved in the rankings. There are dozens of overrated recruits and dozens of under-appreciated prospects. It's an imperfect system but a pretty effective one top to bottom, year in and year out.


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The class Jon Embree has assembled and is putting the finishing touches on in these final few days, appears to be pretty good. No, it's not in the top 10 or even the top 25 in rankings from Scout.com and Rivals.com, but as of Sunday evening, it was rated No. 29 by Scout and No. 31 by Rivals. That's not bad considering the Buffs haven't been in the top-25 polls during the season since 2005.

That brings me to the recruiting junkies who refuse to acknowledge reality.

Believe it or not, there are some who believe Embree and his staff should have been able to assemble a much higher ranked class. It's as if the past six years did not exist for these folks.

They forget how important winning is to the whole process.

Six consecutive losing seasons, one bowl game since 2005, one road win since 2007 and a lot of lopsided losses during the span have made recruiting to Boulder as tough as it has been since Bill McCartney took over the program in the early 1980s.

Former coach Dan Hawkins recruited a top-15 class to Boulder in 2008, but he was coming off that bowl season and still had the memory of better times in the program to point to. CU had only two straight losing seasons at that point and one of them was only a losing season because the Buffs had lost their bowl game.

Embree and his assistants are fighting negative recruiting from other coaches, who are happy to point out to recruits that it's been awhile since the Buffs were relevant. "Do you really want to go there, son, and take a chance that it gets turned around in the few short years you get to play?"

Embree is going to be asked 50 times this week why so many players from the state of Colorado escaped his grasp and committed to programs like Oregon, Auburn, Washington, Nebraska and Ohio State.

That list of schools and their recent track records compared to Colorado's is really all you need to know if you're looking for an explanation.

The players being recruited in this cycle were in sixth grade the last time the Buffs had a winning record. They were in second grade the last time the Buffs played in a Bowl Championship Series bowl game and won a conference title.

They didn't grow up thinking of Colorado football as a powerhouse the way many who follow Colorado recruiting do.

Embree and his assistants were hired a year ago with expectations of them in recruiting. They seem to be meeting those expectations. If they can recruit a top-30 class following a 3-10 season in which they lost seven games by two touchdowns or more, imagine how they might do when they start to win some games with these recruits.