University of Colorado president Bruce Benson threw his support behind winless football coach Jon Embree on Monday and said he would not step in even if the 0-3 season got much worse.
Benson said he is being patient with Embree, CU's second-year coach, despite Saturday's record-setting 69-14 loss to Fresno State one week after a loss to Sacramento State, a Football Championship Subdivision school.
"I think players kind of said it all after the game when they said, 'This is the best set of coaches we've ever had and we're really behind them and they're great guys,'" Benson said. "Obviously, people are always going to get upset over something. It's not the first time in my life I've seen people upset.
"All we can say is we have a serious rebuilding."
CU finished 3-10 last year in Embree's first season replacing the fired Dan Hawkins. While the Buffaloes were expected to finish at or near the bottom of the Pac-12 this season, few thought they would go winless in the nonconference portion of their schedule. CU was upset by Colorado State in its opener, and has sustained two of the most humiliating losses in school history the past two weeks. The Buffs likely will be an underdog in every Pac-12 game this season.
Benson said he won't interfere with the job of athletic director Mike Bohn when evaluating the football program.
"I don't like to micro-manage," Benson said. "There's no point that I or anybody else is going to step in that I know about. So we're going to play it out. We're going to rebuild and be positive and move forward."
Benson said Bohn's job security is not tied to Embree's. Bohn hired Hawkins, and fired him after he became the first Colorado coach to have five consecutive losing seasons. Bohn hired Embree, a Colorado alum and NFL assistant who had no experience as a head coach, or as a coordinator.
"We do have more than one team up there," Benson said of the athletic department. "We had a couple of teams do pretty well last winter in basketball, both the men's and the women's. So I think success is tied to the whole picture. You don't look at one piece of the picture. You look at the whole piece."
Embree took over a program that had fallen near the bottom of the Big 12. And, heading into this season, CU lost more returning starters than any team in the Pac-12.
But, CU's poor play against a weak nonconference schedule has Buffs' fans upset. Benson understands, but said patience is needed.
"People I've talked to say we're in a rebuilding process, let's get going, let's get it done, let's move ahead," he said. "That's what I feel and what I think we all feel. There are always going to be naysayers. Let's be clear about that. We've watched it with CU. We've watched it with the Broncos. We've watched it with everything. There's nothing new here.
"You lose a few games and you're going to have naysayers."
Benson agrees with those who support Embree and point to the team's youth as a big problem.
"We don't have a lot of experience on our team," Benson said. "When you play a bunch of freshmen, they are great kids and are doing a good job but they're new. I don't think any of us when we're brand new in a job are going to be able to do a great job. I think we're doing a great job compared to what we could be doing because we have very, very young talent.
"But I think we do have talent and they've shown that in bursts here or there. It takes a little while to get them trained. This isn't high school ball. It's college ball."