The executive director of the Black Coaches Association said today he is disappointed by the University of Colorado's decision Sunday to fire football coach Jon Embree after only two seasons on the job.
Embree was fired by athletic director Mike Bohn late Sunday afternoon following a 1-11 season that marked the first time in history a CU team went winless at Folsom Field. The Buffs were 4-21 under Embree in two seasons and lost 15 games by 20 or more points in those two seasons.
Embree was the first black head football coach in CU history.
"I'm disappointed for Jon because I thought he might get another year," Floyd Keith said. "I would have been pleased if he had gotten another year, but I'm also not blind. I think the thing that did him in was the loss to the FCS team (Sacramento State). What can you say about that?
"As far as what I think it should be, yeah, I think you need three (years) to at least get the vehicle around the curve. In no way can I say that I'm happy or that I'm neutral about it because I would have liked to have seen Jon have one more year and then if the progress didn't show, I'd totally understand it."
Keith served as an assistant coach at Colorado under former coach Bill Mallory in the 1970s. He coached CU running backs and quarterbacks. He was part of the staff that led the Buffs to the 1977 Orange Bowl only to be fired two years later. He has been with the BCA for 12 years.
Keith said he spoke with Embree about the firing early this morning and wished the coach well. He said he had not heard from CU officials yet but he expects to in the coming days. Contacting the BCA for input is standard practice with any hire for football and basketball programs these days.
CU has worked with the BCA that last two times it hired a coach: in 2005, when it hired Dan Hawkins, and when it chose Embree in 2010.
While progress has been made in recent years with more schools such as CU being willing to at least hire a black head coach for the first time, Keith said there is still a long way to go. He said the numbers are still heavily skewed toward white coaches even though college rosters have included high percentages of black players for decades.
"We aren't there yet," Keith said.
Keith said there appears to be less patience these days for coaches in general to turn programs around regardless of color.
He said that lack of patience also applies to programs going through downturns.
He pointed to Auburn firing coach Gene Chizik this week two years after winning a national title.
"In the landscape of college football today, I think it's totally changed," Keith said. "You used to get five years to build a program. Now I think it's three if you're in the BCS. I just wish (Embree) would have gotten three, but you have to have some rays of hope that show up through there.
"I don't think people really realize how far down the program really was. So you're asking Jon to come in there and build it with freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores." ___
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