Colorado coach Jon Embree is thought to be safe in his job for at least one more season based on comments made earlier this fall by school president Bruce Benson.

In early October, Benson said he would be hard-pressed to support firing Embree after only two seasons on the job despite the sour results the program has produced under the former CU tight end.

So what has changed over the past six weeks that might lead to a different decision?

Damage to the CU brand.

CU has been demolished on the football field in seven consecutive games. The reputation of the program -- and, yes, the school -- has taken a hit.

Officials aren't doing their jobs if they don't at least consider every option regardless of costs. After all, there are few examples of coaches overcoming these types of situations in the past at other programs. The vast majority are eventually fired.

Parting ways with Embree would mean paying off the final three years on his five-year deal as well as the final three years on offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy's contract. That would cost $2.25 million.

There is not much appetite at CU for another expensive buyout of a football coach, but that doesn't mean it's not the right course of action.

If the school ultimately decides to keep Embree, it's likely as many as three or four of his assistants could be fired.

The Buffs have produced what might be the worst season in the program's history, though there is still time to add an element of debate on that score with a victory over the Utes on Friday. Regardless of whether that happens, something has to change to pacify fans who are angry and tired of being asked for patience after seven consecutive losing seasons.

Colorado fans seem to be split into three factions when it comes to which is the best way forward for the program. One group wishes to start over, firing every member of the coaching staff. There are those who are OK with Embree staying as long as he makes significant changes to his staff. A third group believes its unfair to fire these coaches no matter how ugly the product on the field has been this season because they need more time to recruit better players.

The case for firing Embree and his staff is pretty easy to make.

The results alone make it hard to argue in favor of retention. There is a laundry list of ugly numbers, lousy statistical rankings and record-setting performances by opponents that have made this fall a complete embarrassment to any self-respecting CU fan.

But there are deeper problems causing all those dubious achievements.

Coaches have had two springs, two fall camps and two full seasons to establish offensive and defensive identities and there still isn't one on either side of the ball. Embree has indicated he is contemplating a change to his offense, which means it might take longer still to establish the identity on that side of the ball.

The harsh reality here is that the identity of this program is that it's one of the worst in major college football and probably second worst from a Bowl Championship Series conference. The Buffs' win at Washington State this season is the only thing keeping them from the very bottom.

But let's be honest, if the Buffs and Cougars played the game over today, who do you suppose might win? As bad as Washington State has been this fall, it has been much more competitive in most of its games than CU.

There is a lack of player development and tangible improvement at many positions on both sides of the ball. Look no further than the quarterback position where three players have logged significant playing time and have received legitimate opportunities and failed to produce.

There have been signs of progress and improvement at offensive line, tight end and running back this season, but it hasn't been consistent progress. As soon as we give credit to one of those groups one week, that group seems to take a step back the next.

This might be the single biggest sore spot with CU fans.

Most Buffs' supporters came into this season knowing it likely wasn't going to end in a bowl game. They simply wanted to see improvement from their team and development of younger players over the course of the season and leadership from older players.

There is little evidence that any of that has occurred.

Coaches might see improvement in practices while paying attention to a freshman's technique or a sophomore's understanding of a scheme or play call, but fans don't see it on game day. Once again, look no further than the quarterback play. Performances there seem to be getting worse as the season has gone along.

That feeds the frustration and anger among fans because there is rarely anything positive to take away from games, which many fans pay $60 or more per seat to attend.

This staff was hired, in part, based on its past history of success in recruiting. The jury is still out on how good the 2012 class might be. After all, 16 members of the class haven't played a down of football yet because they are either redshirting or grayshirting.

But has this coaching staff landed a player so far that another veteran staff might not have been able to get? It's doubtful.

But what about the case for keeping Embree and a staff of his choosing?

It's certainly unfair to blame former coach Dan Hawkins for anything that has happened on the field since he left, but Hawkins' recruiting and the talent he left is certainly part of the problem. That issue led Embree to play 15 true freshmen last season and another 13 true freshmen this year.

Sure, other programs around the country are succeeding playing as many or more true freshmen, but generally speaking, those programs have more talent and leadership in the depth chart than Embree inherited. This is why some believe Embree deserves at least one more season because next year's team will be more than 80 percent filled with his players and some of those players will be juniors with plenty of experience and a better ability to lead.

While it shouldn't be a deciding factor, the school has to at least consider that it has given numerous white head coaches more than two years to build the football program after coaching changes in the past. What message would it be sending by firing its first black head football coach after just two years, especially in a sport with a poor history -- until recently -- of hiring and promoting black coaches?

Here is another issue to consider: Is it really fair to expect any coach to turn the program around in two years in a conference as difficult as the Pac-12. There are six Pac-12 teams in the latest BCS rankings this week and none of them are traditional power Southern Cal.

Any assessment of whether it's time to make another coaching change must include an honest look at whom the school might be able to get and at what cost?

The truth is, part of the reason Embree got the job in 2010 despite having no experience as a coordinator or head coach is because few other reputable coaches around the nation wanted the job. CU is known as a place where it's hard to win because of half-hearted support from the administration and faculty and a fickle base of donors and season-ticket holders.

It also is playing catch up in the facilities race. Just getting the school to approve an announcement about planned upgrades at Folsom Field and securing one significant donation to build some momentum for that project has been an uphill battle.

Those issues send a signal to prospective coaches and recruits that the school is not as committed to winning in football as others are in the Pac-12 and around the nation. And make no mistake, those issues with school and fan support are contributing to the losing.

Finally, we come back to the money. It's always about the money.

What makes more sense for the program right now? Riding it out with Embree and hoping his recruits develop and his scheme and staff changes work while pouring money into facilities changes? Or dumping another $2.25 million into a firing and then having to spend at least $2 million to hire a coach with a name and then another $2 million for his assistants?

There is much to consider in the next four or five days. Regardless which way CU administrators go, it won't be an easy choice.

Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleRingo