Exclusive interview with University of Colorado Athletic Director Mike Bohn on Jon Embree firing

Jon Embree fires after two seasons at helm

BOULDER, Colo. - The University of Colorado fired former football head coach Jon Embree on Sunday, making him the third football coach that was fired within the last seven years. Athletic Director Mike Bohn sat down with 7NEWS reporter Justin Adams to discuss the decision to fire Embree and what can be expected during the hiring process of a new head coach.

Justin Adams: You fired two coaches, one after five years, the other after two years. What was the deciding factor between the two?

Mike Bohn: I think that when you look at the functionality of the trajection [sic] we were on, this program and this staff, it was obviously revealed primarily through the phenomenal competition we’re playing with through the league but also in other areas. With the future associated with new coaches, new aspects of it I recognized that I don’t see it bouncing back so why waste the additional time when it’s about the future about moving forward - which is really unfortunate because we really wanted this to workout for Jon, we did in the worst way. All of us. Everyone.

JA: What was the functioning difference between Dan Hawkins and Jon Embree?

MB: The climate was a little bit different across the country. I think the move to the PAC-12 obviously escalates the focus and the challenge and the sense of urgency associated with it. Obviously we have different moving pieces associated with our budget, associated with again the landscape nationally.  Those are big movers, which is why I think you see a lot of schools doing what they’re doing.

JA: Over the last couple of years you’ve spent about $4 million on coaching buyouts. Within the new budget, what type of coach can we expect for you to hire?

MB: To Jon’s credit he pulled this group together with a very unselfish contract for himself, but we’re going to have the ability to change our profile dramatically.

JA: How much does the money coming in from the PAC-12 help with the coaching search?

MB: It helps immensely and we recognize that the average for a head coach in the PAC-12 is around $2.5 million and we recognize that it’s going to be very important for us to be competitive.

JA: Do you feel that the changes of the coaches will help towards the improvement of the facilities?

MB: Again, that’s why we’ve got to show and really find a way to ignite all those different pieces. That’s why I was talking about that intensity of interest among our collective fans because it’s so important to be able to pull that together. Hopefully we can unite. That’s our challenge in the vision of trying to pull that together. We’ve been in the process of the last several years of working on our “sustained excellence initiative” associated with academic support, training support, emotional support and all the resources that are important for a program to be successful.

JA: As an athletic department as a whole, what’s the risk of the hiring a new football coach?

MB: It’s high and I that’s why the chancellor (Phil Distefano) talks about it not being an exact science.

JA: And what’s the risk for you personally?

MB: I understand the pressure that’s on me. I signed up for this and I’ve been trained for this and I think that’s why as I leader it was important for me to make the tough call. But now it is important to go out and sell the program and have arrows in our quiver to be able to bring in the type of leader that can take advantage of all that we have in place.

JA: Speaking of the great things that you do have in place, sell to me if I was a coaching candidate or recruit what the University of Colorado has to offer?

MB: First of all, I will talk about the wonderful young men and character that are in our program that is in tribute to Jon.  I will talk about the incredible student body that comes here is 45 percent out-of-state and they are the cream of the cream. I will talk about Boulder being the finest college town in the country in my opinion. I will talk about the great proximity to Denver and the pro sport teams there.  We’re going to talk about the easy access for the parents and other people through our phenomenal airport. Number one, we would talk about the collective resolve that is so vital that is now in alignment and the ability to pull that together.  We’re going to sell our staff. We’re going to sell our fans and the ones that truly are with us and the support that we have from them. We would sell the integrity of our institution and the great reputation that we have. We’re going to sell our league, big time. We’re going to sell our sustained excellence initiative, which is our commitment to the full student athlete experience and that maybe sounds like a hallow experience but that’s very, very important in associated when we talk about our student athletes being successful.

JA: Final question, to all the Alumni and all the Boosters, what type of things can we be excited about with the new head coach?

MB: First of all, I would think that anyone associated with our program is excited about being involved because it is important to them and that’s the type of passion and intensity to interest that I am talking about that that is vital because that’s going to help up recruit players, recruit coaches, recruit other fans, find additional sponsors. All those things are powerful, movement issues to putting it together and that is what our competition has and it’s important for us to pull that together. We haven’t been able to do that and I’ll take responsibility for it, but in part it is imperative that we get the intensity and interest dialed up and everybody on the same page and the time that I’ve been here, and as I reflect on the different challenges that are surrounding this program that has not been in place. And that is a fundamental void versus our competition. So that’s why we’ve got to fix that as quickly as possible and have a good trajection there as well so that we can put it all together.