Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer
Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer ( PAUL AIKEN )

Don't forget about Jon Embree if the Buffs turn this thing around.

I thought of the former Colorado head coach when his affable replacement, Mike MacIntyre, spoke about about his proven track record as a builder during a press conference on Monday night in the suites at Folsom Field.

Embree, 47, participated in a much more intense and awkward press conference two weeks earlier after being fired with a 4-21 record over two seasons, including the ghastly 1-11 campaign this year.

MacIntyre, 47, was 1-12 during his first season as a head coach and 6-19 through two seasons.

San Jose State -- like CU's leadership three decades ago with another Coach Mac -- gave MacIntyre a third season. The patience paid off as the Spartans finished the regular season 10-2 and ranked 24th in the final BCS standings.

"I could see us improving in every aspect," MacIntyre said of his 2010 San Jose State squad, which was blown out by five ranked teams, lost at home to UC Davis, and escaped with a 16-11 victory over Southern Utah to avoid a winless season. "But what everyone else sees is on that scoreboard."

I'm not suggesting Embree was on the verge of a 10-win season at CU. But I did believe him when he said he was seeing similar improvement and progress behind the scenes that outsiders are blind to in a win-now culture.

"I was brought here to build something. I have one and a half recruiting classes, so to speak. I think they've all represented themselves well," Embree said at his farewell press conference. "I'm disappointed with the results too, on the scoreboard, but everything else that has been done here ... they're better."


MacIntyre, despite what the national statistics suggest, inherits a much better situation than his predecessor did.

Embree is a good coach. Unfortunately, after two years on the job, CU football still didn't have an identity.

The Buffs couldn't run the ball or stop the other team from running the ball. They were defenseless against good quarterbacks and couldn't even settle on a starting quarterback.

When Embree decided to make dramatic changes to his staff and the schemes CU was running, a giant red flag was raised at the Dal Ward Center.

Athletic director Mike Bohn decided to be the one to make a major change.

The original Coach Mac had Embree's back. Bohn believes the current players have their Coach Mac's back.

"(MacIntyre) mentioned in his press conference the players are hurting. They were hurting before we made a change," Bohn said. "It will be important for us to be able to rally them. I'm just so proud of the kids for how they handled themselves through this process. And when you hear this coach talk you begin to see the match, you begin to see the fit, and you begin to see why we are excited."

Buffs fans should be very excited that MacIntyre "cut his teeth" in coaching under current Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, the quarterback savant who coached Peyton Manning at Tennessee and Eli Manning at Mississippi.

Imagine the possibilities if CU's identity moving forward is dynamic quarterback play?

"He said we were going to sling it," freshman quarterback Shane Dillon said with a smile. "We all have been through so much this whole season really. It has been tough on everybody. I think everyone getting a chance to have something new coming in here is going to help a lot."

MacIntyre said the reason San Jose State hired him three years ago was because "they were tired of getting their butt kicked."

Bohn, who lost late in the fourth quarter to Tennessee in the Butch Jones Bowl, knows the feeling.

"We're not going to look back," Bohn said. "We're certainly thrilled and excited that (MacIntyre) is our coach."

We'll never know if Embree could have been a winner at CU had he been given more time. My guess is the $2 million man replacing him will get a third year, and the Buffs will eventually win big again under Coach Mac.

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