College Football: Ex-Colorado Coach Says Embree Fired Because He Was Black

Bill McCartney led Colorado to three Big Eight Championships.

Uh-oh, as if the Colorado Buffaloes needed any further negativity flung in their direction.

Bill McCartney, a former head coach for the Colorado Buffaloes has spoken out against Colorado after the decision to unceremoniously dismiss Jon Embree after only two seasons.

McCartney says, with no sugar coating, that Embree’s dismissal was likely racially motivated.

In a radio appearance, McCartney said the school did not give Embree, who is black, the same opportunity to build up his program as his white predecessors had at Colorado and that race motivated the administration’s failure to stick with Embree.

He added he personally was given more than two years to assemble the talent he needed playing for Colorado because he’s white.

“Honestly, I believe it’s because I’m Caucasian. I believe black men have less opportunity, shorter time if you will,” McCartney told ESPN 102.3 FM listeners in a prepared letter, as quoted by the Denver Post. “It’s just like, (former coach) Dan Hawkins got five full years. Why not give Jon Embree five years? You signed him to a five-year contract.

“Men of color have a more difficult road to tread. It didn’t happen to me. Why should it happen to a black man?”

Of course the powers that be at Colorado have denied McCartney’s claims, and considering the administrations track record in regards to unsuccessful coaches, I can see why they would. Aside from the extended leash given to Dan Hawkins, the CU Administration has rarely been patient with a slow-starting coach.

Chuck Fairbanks (1979-1981) was let go after compiling a 7-26 record in three seasons and Bud Davis (1962) lasted 10 games—going 2-8—before his ouster.

Fairbanks and Davis are also the only coaches, aside from Hawkins, to leave CU with losing records.

The leeway McCartney speaks of was likely due to the fact that Fairbanks left behind such a tattered mess and the administration recognized that time was needed to fix it. Hawkins had much the same.

He arrived in a blaze of glory from Boise State, but NCAA sanctions were imposed shortly after his arrival thanks to violations made during Gary Barnett’s tenure—Colorado was placed under probation for two of Hawkins’ five seasons, and never really seemed to get a good head of steam after that.

Does that mean the firing of Embree wasn’t racially motivated? No, but it does suggest there may have been other forces at work here.

Colorado has been essentially out of contention for the better part of seven years and, as members of a still-expanding conference, they aren’t likely to find the waters getting any less choppy. They need to find a way to get out of their funk now and they can no longer waste time “rebuilding”. However, this recent round of bad press isn’t likely to make any coach worth his BCS salt look in their direction—particularly when the Buffs aren’t going to have much to offer in the salary department in the first place.

Even so, McCartney has planted the seed,  and you can expect this conversation to linger a lot longer than the Colorado administration would like.

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I am not a 'journalist' by trade, nor do I present myself as such. I am a wife, mother, and passionate Georgia Bulldog fan. That's it. I write. You read.