Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Back Where They Started

Yesterday - on the Front Range of Colorado - the Alma mater named one of "our" own to be the Head Coach of the Football Buffaloes. I never met Jon Embree (Class of '87) during the couple of years that our time in Boulder as undergrads overlapped but I recall rooting quite hard for his mates and him during the two seasons that I watched him play. He was part of Coach Mac's first recruiting class at CU - a generation ago - after Coach Mac accepted the daunting task for which Embree has now signed on. In the quarter-century or so since his graduation from CU he has played in the NFL, coached in the NFL and coached in college - including a stint at CU as an assistant coach. In one stroke yesterday the University of Colorado achieved two historical firsts. Embree is the first CU-Boulder alum to be hired to run the football program and he is the first African-American in CU history to do so.

He comes back to Boulder with no obvious or apparent baggage. Instead he comes back to Boulder carrying with him as his #1 assistant and the brand-new Offensive Coordinator another Buff: Eric Bieniemy. Bieniemy graduated from CU after I did but like Embree there was some overlap between his time as a student on the Front Range and mine. He was the star running back on the two Buff teams that ended the 1989 regular season and the 1990 regular season ranked #1 in the polls (at least some of them) and competed against Notre Dame in back-to-back Orange Bowls - losing the first one and winning the return match to capture CU's first and only National Championship. Much like Embree, Bieniemy's life post-college has been spent playing in the NFL, coaching in the NFL and coaching in college. In fact he - like Embree - has coached at CU before this go-round. They were assistant coaches together on Coach Barnett's staff....before they left CU together about ten years ago to become assistant coaches at UCLA under Karl Dorrell.

Boulder's new Dynamic Duo are presently feeling the love from a fan base that grew tired of losing at alarming rates over the course of the past five years. As a loyal CU supporter and someone who roots hard for the institution's success in all areas I am happy for both Embree and Bieniemy and wish them well. Both are men well-versed in the travails of their chosen profession so they need not have me tell them that approximately five years ago Mike Bohn - the Athletic Director who hired both of them - sat where he sat yesterday morning and referred to the guy who sat where Embree was seated yesterday morning as, "A Home Run hire." Yesterday morning, after Mighty Casey wannabe Dan Hawkins struck out in thirty-nine of the fifty-eight at bats he had during the course of his slightly less than five seasons, Bohn introduced Embree as the man now entrusted with the responsibility of making Buffaloes football relevant again.

No easy task. Here is to hoping that Embree, Bieniemy and the rest of the staff they assemble to work with them are up to it. I have been married a long time (and if you catch my wife on the wrong day she will likely tell you "too long") and I know from experience that while a honeymoon is a lot of fun, a marriage is a lot of work. Good luck gentlemen. As experience teaches all of us, luck is not only the residue of design but it is a necessary ingredient for success.

Back where we started, here we go round again.
Day after day I get up and I say, do it again.

Welcome home....

-AK

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