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November 26, 2012

Bohn: 'We had great hope'

BOULDER, Colo. - Under fire from reporters and in the company of a host of disgruntled CU football players, athletic director Mike Bohn and Chancellor Phil DiStefano defended their decision to fire Jon Embree as the Buffaloes' head coach after just two seasons.

"We had great hope, great expectation when we hired Jon, and I continue to have strong respect for him," Bohn said during Monday's press conference in the Dal Ward Center. "But I think that in two years, so much was revealed very quickly."

Added DiStefano: "If this decision were based upon passion for CU and dedication, there is no doubt that Jon would be coach for life. But it also has to be based on progress and results, which we simply did not see enough this year. We looked at the performance on the field and did not see the development and the cohesion, or progressive strategy that gave us confidence in the future and that is why this decision was made to relieve Jon of his duties."

The Buffaloes finished their 1-11 campaign this fall ranked 11th or 12th in the Pac-12 in 13 of 17 major statistical categories, and only ranked in the top half of the conference in one: net punting.

Bohn would not reveal specifically when he came to the decision to pull the trigger, but did say "it was late." It was widely expected until this past weekend that Embree would have at least a third-year to try to turn the Buffs' program around. Embree said he did not believe his job was in jeopardy until Saturday night.

"We wanted it to work and it had nothing to do with the last game (a 42-35 loss to Utah)," Bohn said. "But when assessing the long term vision and connectivity, coaching moves and different things like that, I just didn't see that coming together to give us the ability to get to the higher aspirations that our fans have. Trying to retool in a major way when we don't have some momentum is high risk."

Following failed hires in Dan Hawkins and Embree, there is extreme pressure on Bohn to get this one right. He would not lay out any specific qualifications that the Buffaloes' next head coach will need to have.

"Obviously the athletic director has culpability, I realize that," Bohn said. "But you look at Texas, you can look at UCLA, you can look at many, many programs around the country and sometimes it takes just the exact, perfect situation to pull that together. … It is not an exact science. Our most successful reigns at the University of Colorado involved multiple changes when you think about what other AD's went through."

Embree is owed $1.625 million and former offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is owed $812,500 for the three years remaining on their contracts, according to the Daily Camera.

The average salary for a major college head coach has risen to $1.64 million per year.

"When we hired Jon, his contract had a smaller salary guaranteed but a significant number of incentives for performance," DiStefano said. "For the new head coach coming in, we are going to have to take a look at that. Do we put more in the guarantee and still have incentives?

"We want to be competitive in the Pac-12 and being competitive in the Pac-12 means going out and getting the best head coach, paying for that head coach, and looking to the future for areas of [improvement in] recruiting and facilities, and academic enhancements. So those are the things I am certainly going to talk to perspective head coaches about."

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