Two years after replacing Dan Hawkins, Jon Embree was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Colorado Football team.
Via Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera:
Colorado has fired coach Jon Embree after just two seasons on the job. A search for a replacement is already underway.— Kyle Ringo (@KyleRingo) November 26, 2012
Two years isn't exactly a lot of time to turn a program around, especially considering the state that the program was in when Embree took over—but a 4-21 record in two years simply didn't show enough progress for athletic director Mike Bohn and the powers that be at the university.
Perhaps this move was made as a way for Bohn to placate angry program boosters and a dwindling season ticket base, or maybe it truly was made because a change in direction was needed.
One thing is for certain—there will be a new face leading the Buffaloes on the field in 2013 and beyond.
Let's take a look at a handful of coaches who, should they be brought on board, would be a major step in the right direction for the program.
Troy Calhoun: Head Coach, Air Force
It's widely believed that Calhoun was atop Bohn's short list of candidates to replace Dan Hawkins in 2010, and there's no reason to think that the Buffaloes won't try to bring him into the fold once again.
Calhoun, who ran a triple-option offense with Air Force this season that ranked second in the nation with more than 325 rushing yards per game, would certainly bring some excitement back to a moribund Buffaloes offense.
He has a 47-30 record and made bowl appearances in each of his six seasons leading the Falcons.
Recently dismissed after an 11-year stint as the head coach at Pac-12 rival California, Jeff Tedford has more Pac-12 experience than anyone else on this list.
A noted teacher of quality quarterbacks at every coaching stop he's made—David Carr (Fresno State), Joey Harrington (Oregon) and Aaron Rodgers (Cal), to name a few—Tedford makes sense for the Buffaloes on a number of levels.
Tedford compiled an 82-57 record at California, going 5-3 in his eight bowl appearances and finishing the season ranked in the AP Top 25 three times.
Sonny Dykes, Head Coach, Louisiana Tech
A former offensive coordinator at Arizona, Sonny Dykes' spread offense at Louisiana Tech ranks first in the nation in scoring during the 2012 season, putting up more than 51 points per game on the opposition.
Louisiana Tech has steadily improved from year to year under his three-year watch, sitting at 9-2 this season.
With a 22-14 record, Dykes is the most inexperienced head coach on this list—but he may also have the most long-term promise.
Sure, his tenure at Ohio State didn't end well, but there's no disputing that he was wildly successful leading the Buckeyes, going 94-22 over just over nine years in Columbus, winning a National Championship and six Big Ten Championships.
There are, of course, the NCAA violations during his tenure at Ohio State that could deter interest from Colorado. But from a pure football perspective, there may not be a better coach available than Tressel.
It was only two years ago that Gene Chizik led the Auburn Tigers to the National Championship, and while 2012 did not go as planned, with Auburn failing to win a game in SEC play, Chizik is an excellent recruiter and has a track record of success.
Over four years at Auburn, he went 33-19 and won each of the three bowl games in which the Tigers played.
Recently let go by the Tigers, one wonders whether Chizik is itching to get back onto the sidelines or whether he'll take a year or two off before re-emerging.
Who Should Replace Jon Embree?
It's far too early to know whom Colorado will target, and much of it depends on how much money the school is willing to allocate for a coach. Embree was being paid $1 million this season—it will cost significantly more than that to land a legitimate, big-time coach.
Call it a gut feeling, as I certainly don't have some mental connection with Bohn or inside knowledge of what his thinking is, but I can't shake the idea that Jeff Tedford will be Colorado's next head coach.