Speculation that Eric Bieniemy would be CU's next head coach was close, but no cigar. The Denver Post quotes Bill McCartney as saying Bieniemy will serve as offensive coordinator for another ex-Buff, Jon Embree -- and that we're hearing it from him shows why CU administrators didn't offer him the gig.
As the head coach for the Buffs' most successful run ever (including a national championship), McCartney obviously has an impeccable pedigree. But since he hasn't coached since 1994, the hope from the beginning was that he'd take over the program in tandem with a designated successor, who would get a couple years of grooming under his belt before assuming the head-coaching mantle.
Immediately after Dan Hawkins's firing, many fans began lobbying for a Bill McCartney-Dave Logan combo at CU. But Logan, who'd also been a fave of boosters prior to Hawkins's hiring, was never seriously considered. Apparently, his decision not to do as Embree did -- start at the bottom, as a volunteer assistant, and work his way up through the ranks -- has biased the powers-that-be against him. Looks like this job will never be his...
As for McCartney, he openly promoted himself as CU's savior even after credible sources suggested that athletic director Mike Bohn didn't want to go down that road. Then, in his conversation with the Post's John Henderson, the Promise Keepers' founder very consciously stole CU's thunder by saying the Embree hire was a done deal, and presented the move to hire not one but two prominent African-American coaches who are part of the CU family as pretty much his idea.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Marijuana Deals Near You
When that happened, Bohn was probably both pissed off at this info coming out days earlier than anticipated and relieved that he hadn't made McCartney the Buffs' godfather. Clearly, McCartney's gotten to the point in his life where he doesn't feel he has to answer to anyone about anything, and while that makes him a great quote, it also suggests a proclivity for going rogue -- and given the precarious state of CU's football program right now, the constant threat of him saying the wrong thing at the wrong time would have driven the entire administration nuts.
Not that McCartney's grandstanding in regard to Embree has done any permanent damage to CU. Hard to say at this point how the former standout tight end, who put in time with the Buffs before moving to Mike Shanahan's Washington Redskins staff, will deal with the pressure of having to turn around the program despite having no previous head coaching experience. But symbolically, the return of Embree and Bieniemy is perfect. They're young, they were Buffs when CU didn't blow, and they represent progressive thinking on the part of CU's string-pullers -- a great message to send at a time when the number of African-American coaches at the highest levels of college football remains shamefully low. Everyone in Buffs Nation will be rooting for them from the get-go and will likely be more patient than they'd be with an outsider if the squad gets hammered during the next couple of seasons, as seems very likely.
That includes Bohn, who's no doubt very happy right now he won't have to deal with a head coach like McCartney, who thinks he answers to no one other than God.