Tag:Eric Bieniemy
Posted on: March 11, 2011 5:54 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Colorado

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Colorado, who opens spring camp today.

Spring practice question: How will the Buffs look under new coach Jon Embree?

The short answer is they won't look anything like the team that went 19-39 under Dan Hawkins. The long answer depends on how quickly the team can adapt to a new head coach and a new conference, neither of which should be an easy transition.

Embree, a former Colorado player and assistant, has already started to leave his mark on the program. One of the first things he did after wrapping up his first recruiting class was announce that several traditions would be returning to a school with a rich history full of them.

"There's been a lot of great traditions around here that have been swept under the rug and they're coming back," he said in a rousing speech at Colorado's recruiting luncheon after signing day. "And it starts with Hawaii."

While the first game is a few months away, the goal is clear for a program that was known mostly for failing to live up to the high expectations of Hawkins. There's several on-field adjustments Embree has already started to implement, starting with installing a west coast offense. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will have a few tools to work with, including returning starter Tyler Hansen and transfer Brent Burnett at quarterback. Also returning is senior tailback Rodney Stewart, who is coming off his best season in three years as a starter, and several promising young backups.

The offensive line will also look different this spring but not too much. Stud left tackle Nate Solder departs to the NFL (though maybe not to the Denver Broncos based on this video). Center Mike Iltis will also miss the spring while he recovers from a torn ACL but there will be three other returning starters to help show the new guys how things are done.

Defensively is where Embree faces the most challenges. The Buffs gave up 30 points per game and were 110th in the nation in pass defense despite having possible first round draft pick Jimmy Smith starting at corner. Also gone is senior corner Jalil Brown and two players in the mix to start in the secondary are out for spring ball with injuries with the rest of the players in contention having little or no playing experience. Defensive tackles Curtis Cunningham and Will Pericak will return once again but the trick will be figuring who plays linebacker behind them with the departure of leading tackler Mike Sipili. Luckily the team won't have to learn too much scheme-wise this spring with the return of former secondary coach Greg Brown as defensive coordinator.

"We`re evolving right now," Brown told the Boulder Daily Camera. "There is no way of knowing where the thing is going to end up. Our focus right now is on spring ball and just trying to line up and play it straight and see if we can win some one-on-one battles let alone trying to out-scheme somebody."

Either way you slice though, change is in the thin atmosphere of Boulder. A new conference, a new staff and several new players are going to get their first glimpse of Colorado this spring. 

Most hope the new look is a lot better on the field than before. If anything, it sure is different.

Posted on: February 24, 2011 6:07 pm
 

Mattison, Kragthorpe to make $700,000 or more

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This just in: the upwards spiral of major college football coaching salaries isn't going to de-spiral anytime soon.

Your latest evidence arrived this afternoon with the release of salary information for coordinators at both Michigan and LSU. In Ann Arbor, the university has committed some $750,000 to new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison (pictured), with more than $900,000 possible in the (unlikely) event the Wolverines bring home a Big Ten championship. Mattison's contract represents an increase of almost $500,000 over Greg Robinson's approximate $270,000 in the same position last year.

In Baton Rouge, the propsed contract for new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe will match the $700,000 a year currently being paid Bayou Bengal defensive coordinator John Chavis (despite Kragthorpe's substantially thinner resume). Given that Chavis already has his deal signed and delivered, approving the same salary for Kragthorpe appears to be a mere formailty.

With their new contracts, both Mattison and Kragthorpe vault into FBS's highest stratosphere for assistant pay; in 2010, only five assistant coaches nationwide earned as much as $700,000. (Along with Chavis and Texas coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Georgia "DC" Todd Grantham, and South Carolina DC Ellis Johnson also hit that mark. It pays and pays well to be a defensive coordinator in the SEC.)

Though Kragthorpe's not about to touch Les Miles' compensation, it's possible that like Jon Embree and his offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy at Colorado , Mattison's salary won't be all that far off from his head coach's. Not only does being an FBS assistant pay better than ever, these days it pays almost as well as being your own head coach.

Posted on: February 23, 2011 5:00 pm
 

CU's Embree, Bieniemy earning same base salary

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When the Colorado head coaching position first came open, one of the names mentioned most often for the job was former Buffalo running back and program legend Eric Bieniemy, running backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings. So it was a minor surprise when Bieniemy came to Boulder even without being named head coach, agreeing to serve as offensive coordinator for friend and fellow Buff alum Jon Embree.

But if that friendship and the call of his alma mater helped explain Bieniemy's decision, today's release of his and Embree's salary information helps explain that much further. We're not sure how many other assistants are earning a salary fully equal to their head coach's, but now we know there's at least one, since both Embree and Bieniemy will be earning base compensation of $250,000 per year.

It's not accurate to say that Bieniemy's making the exact same amount total as his boss; thanks to a hefty extra compensation package for media appearances and the Buffaloes' annual football camps, Embree will take home some $725,000 while Bieniemy will net just a little over $500,000 (though he also received a $150,000 signing bonus). Embree also has a much higher ceiling on his final paycheck thanks to a number of big-money incentives (which, as Gene Chizik can tell you , can sometimes pay off handsomely).

All together, the package is enough to give both Embree and Bieniemy salaries competitive within the Pac-12. (The odd distribution of the income in the contracts does raise the question if they were structured to somewhat obscure their true compensation at the cash-strapped university.) But when all is said and done, that Embree and Bieniemy have the same number at the top of those contracts will still give them a head coach-assistant relationship unique in the world of major college football. Now we'll see how well that relationship will work out for the downtrodden Buffs.

Posted on: December 2, 2010 1:21 pm
 

McCartney: CU job offered to Embree

Posted by Tom Fornelli

So about that whole three finalists for the Colorado job post we put up a little while ago, it seems that there is only one finalist.  At least, that's what former Colorado head coach Bill McCartney is saying.  According to McCartney, who himself was a candidate for the job, the school has offered the job to former tight end and current Redskins tight ends coach Jon Embree.

Embree has been given a formal offer for the position with hopes that he'll hire Eric Bieniemy, another finalist for the job, the position of offensive coordinator.  McCartney says that while he was a candidate for the job, as soon as it became clear that he wasn't going to get the job, he started pushing for either Embree or Bieniemy.

"It was never about me doing it again," McCartney told The Denver Post. "It was about setting the table for a black man to come in (as head coach). And he (Mike Bohn) hired one. Now, give him a chance."

The report also says that neither Embree or Mike Bohn could be reached for comment, and that the word around the Washington Redskins office is that Embree has received the offer and is mulling it over.

Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain was also considered a finalist, but was deemed a longshot since he had no ties to the school.
Posted on: December 2, 2010 12:38 pm
 

Colorado search down to three

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's beginning to look like at least one of the head coaching vacancies out there could be filled soon enough.  

After interviewing Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain this week, it seems Colorado is done interviewing candidates to replace Dan Hawkins, and according to the Boulder Daily Camera those finalists are McElwain and former Buffaloes Eric Bieniemy (pictured) and Jon Embree.

It's been reported in recent days that Bieniemy, a former running back at Colorado and current running backs coach with the Minnesota Vikings, is the favorite to land the job.  In fact, he and Embree are both the odds-on favorites to get the job.  Yes, McElwain is a finalist for the position, but it hasn't been a secret that most people associated with the school prefer a new coach with ties to the program.

McElwain has no such ties.

According to the report, Colorado could make the decision as soon as Friday, but no later than Monday.  
Posted on: December 1, 2010 3:14 pm
 

Bieniemy in line for Colorado job?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We know now who the new Colorado head coach won't be, namely, Troy Calhoun . We also know that the Buffs appear set on making a run at Les Miles that has as much chance of succeeding as a run at Ralphie-powered space travel. But what we don't know yet is who the Buffs might actually hire.

According to the Denver Post , though, we know who's edged into pole position : former Colorado great and current Minnesota Vikings running backs coach Eric Bieniemy . Why?
Ex-CU players are putting a great deal of pressure on athletic director Mike Bohn to hire the former Buffs tailback, who had a good interview Saturday. The committee was impressed with the potential staff Bieniemy said he could put together.
In one sense, Bieniemy would be an uninspiring hire. The track record of NFL position coaches as college head coaches isn't a strong one (just ask Tim Brewster and Sylvester Croom ) and Bieniemy has never been a coordinator at any level. Well-meaning as the former Buffs may be, Bieniemy's hire would also only reinforce the impression -- first created by the school's flirtation with 70-year-old Colorado legend Bill McCartney -- that the program is simply trying to recreate their late-'80s-early-'90s heyday rather than living in the present.

But if Bieniemy does indeed have a pair of inspiring choices in mind to help him out as coordinators, he could prove a galvanizing choice. Few coaches should be able to sell the Colorado program to recruits as well as a young, (allegedly) charismatic, energetic head man with ties to Boulder as deep as Bieniemy's. That both Bieniemy and McCartney have received as much popular support as they have shows how deep the Buffalo fanbase's respect for the CU glory days runs, and Bieniemy should be able to tap into that optimism in a wa ythat Dan Hawkins never could. And as Doug Marrone 's impressive salvage job at Syracuse shows, NFL assistants coachin on behalf of their alma mater can certainly have success.

None of that guarantees Bieniemy anything at this stage. But if the Buffs are as intent on making a quick hire as the Post article suggests, the other candidates in the Buffs' pool will have to move up the ladder quickly if they don't want to see the job wrapped up.


Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:37 pm
 

Troy Calhoun not interested in Colorado job

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun is a name that is likely going to come up as a possible candidate for a few different head coaching jobs this offseason. Calhoun has gone 33-18 in four seasons at Air Force, and his history both in college and the NFL is appealing to schools looking for a new head coach. One spot his name has come up pretty often is at Colorado.

Along with his experience, the fact that Calhoun is familiar with the state of Colorado thanks to his time at Air Force and with the Denver Broncos only makes him more attractive to the school.  Unfortunately for Colorado, Calhoun had to let the school know that while he's flattered, he's just not into them.

Calhoun recently let the school know that he won't be a candidate to replace Dan Hawkins, and removed his name from the discussion.  He's the second candidate to do so, as former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti removed himself from consideration a few weeks ago.

As for who the new front runner for the gig is, the names Bill McCartney and Eric Bieniemy keep popping up, and interim head coach Brian Cabral had an interview earlier this week.  There are also rumors that the school still has the pipe dream of stealing Les Miles from LSU.  Why Miles would ever leave LSU to take a pay cut at Colorado, I'll never know.
 
 
 
 
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