While other Big Sky teams prepare for the FCS Playoff, the University of Northern Colorado announced on Monday that Ed McCaffrey will not return as the program’s football coach.
The news was originally released in a report from Football Scoop. Multiple sources confirmed the announcement to the Greeley Tribune during the team’s meeting, and the university released its statement at 1:11 p.m.
“This is never an easy decision,” UNC Athletic Director Darren Dunn said in a statement. “We appreciate all the work, time and energy coach McCaffrey has put into the program and we wish him the best in the future.”
The Bears just wrapped up a 3-8 season, going 2-6 in Big Sky Conference play. They went 6-16 in two seasons under McCaffrey and went 4-12 in conference contests.
“Thank you so much to all of the coaches and players who I’ve been blessed to work with over the past few years,” McCaffrey wrote in a tweet. “It’s been the experience of a lifetime. Never forget.”
Thank you so much to all of the coaches and players who I’ve been blessed to work with over the past few years. It’s been the experience of a lifetime. Never forget… pic.twitter.com/9rccvGirOI
— Ed McCaffrey (@87ed) November 21, 2022
McCaffrey’s tenure has been fraught with controversy due to his coaching resume and alleged program culture.
UNC hired McCaffrey in December 2019, following the termination of Earnest Collins. He did not have any college coaching experience on any level and had a brief stint at Valor Christian. He coached the Bears in 2020 for brief periods, but his debut was ultimately postponed until fall 2021 due to COVID-19. The university opted out of the 2021 spring season.
During the 2021-22 offseason, UNC lost nearly 40 players to the transfer portal and roughly a dozen more to graduation. Players and former staff members alleged a toxic culture of atypical favoritism, nepotism and a lack of proper preparation. Former players also alleged possible NCAA violations, but a review said the program abided by all NCAA rules.
This season, players said outwardly that the program was headed in the right direction, but fans said McCaffrey was not fit for the job.
After UNC’s season finale loss to Eastern Washington on Saturday, fans took to Twitter to criticize McCaffrey’s performance.
“3-8 is not good and, unfortunately, this has been UNC Bears football for years now,” the Bear Down Podcast tweeted this weekend. “This whole experiment with Ed hasn’t worked. Don’t see it getting much better if I’m honest, and it’s best if they just moved on from it. But, I doubt UNC administration will do that.”
Ben Schleiger, a UNC alumnus and writer for the College Sports Journal, initially supported McCaffrey’s hire. After this season, Schleiger said the McCaffrey, quarterback Dylan McCaffrey and offensive coordinator Max McCaffrey trio has “worse value than the worst thing than the dollar menu served cold and spat on. This high caliber family bit off more than they could chew.”
The Bears will conduct a national search for the next head coach.
As of 5:45 p.m. (Nov. 21), the Tribune has not received any additional information about the termination or if UNC will be obligated to buy out McCaffrey’s contract. The former coach also deleted tweets related to UNC, including ones from Sunday that praised Elijah Dotson for his record-breaking season.