At a press conference this morning, the University of Colorado at Boulder braintrust introduced new head coach Jon Embree -- and his return to CU, where he previously played and coached, was mighty impressive.
Obviously, talk won't lead to an instant turnaround for the woeful program, but the differences between Embree's tone and that of recently ousted Dan Hawkins couldn't have been more refreshing.
Representing this contrast in styles at the press conference was athletic director Mike Bohn, whose manner is much like Hawkins's -- which is probably why he hired Hawk in the first place, to disastrous results. An antic, manic, fast-jabbering pitchman, Bohn declared, "We've got to be united, and that's why Jon Embree ultimately was selected... He's a Buff. He can rally all the Buffs around him. He can attract top coaches to join him."
More rah-rah followed, after which Embree ambled to the microphone -- and while he was every bit as passionate as Bohn, his enthusiasm was expressed in a matter-of-fact, no-bullshit way. In sharing comments he made to the Buffs players prior to the press conference, he emphasized "a new standard... There are no excuses. Either you do or you don't."
Embree didn't mention Hawkins immediately after making these remarks, but that wasn't necessary. Throughout last season, Hawkins repeatedly tried to explain away horrible losses, as if the NCAA graded on the curve rather than measuring wins and losses the old-fashioned way.
Just as important, Embree told his charges that "we're going to change the way we see ourselves. We're going to get swagger back in this program." Moreover, he made it clear that the responsibility for righting the ship was as much on the men in uniform as on those directing them. In his words, "Their job is to help return the luster of this great program."
Not that many folks outside of Colorado remember the Buffs as anything other than a laughingstock. Embree pointed out that during his time recruiting for UCLA, a member of the Pac-12 conference CU is joining, he didn't hear references to or an acknowledgment of CU's 1990 national championship. But, he says, "You can't get to where you want to go if you don't know where you've been."
Another good sign: Embree took time to praise Brian Cabral, another former Buff whose work as interim head coach after Hawkins's sacking suggested that CU has at least a few positive pieces in place.
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More from our Sports archive: "Bill McCartney's Jon Embree thunder-stealing shows why CU didn't want him as coach."