"I'm honored and I'm humbled to be chosen to lead this great program. As we embark new venture of going to the Pac-12, one of the things I told the search committee was I want this university to be the flagship university for the new conference in everything that we do. When I met with the players this morning, I told them there is going to be a new standard in how we do things. There are no excuses, either you do or you don't. We're going to change the way we see ourselves. We're going to get swagger back in this program. Their job is to help return the luster of this great program. I told them about the fact that we've won a national championship; one of the best-kept secrets out there. I say that because when I was at UCLA recruiting, and you go into schools, people don't know about Colorado like they should. They don't know about our Heisman Trophy. They don't know about our Butkus Award winners. They don't know about our Mackey Award winners. They don't know about our Big 12 Championships. They don't know about the accomplishments that we've had as a program. People are going to know about it now, I guarantee you that.
"There is a certain passion I believe that you need to have success in this program. Does it mean to be a Buff guy? Maybe not. But if it's not a Buff guy, how do they know about the passion? How do they know about the details that were put in this program that made it successful? I think you got a little glimpse of that when Brian Cabral took over. Things like not wearing red, things like putting the sign up, things like one heartbeat. All those things evolved over time. I feel old when they say it was 25 years ago, or 27 years ago, whatever it was that I was up here, because it really does feel like it was yesterday I was out there running around. Knowing some of the traditions, how they evolved, and you can't get to where you want to go if you don't know where you've been. It's important for players to understand who we are, where we're going, and how we're going to get there. The vision and the message have to be clear. You do not have to worry about what the vision and what the message is; it's excellence. It's returning the luster to this program.
"I want to acknowledge a guy that I really didn't want to do this without. Someone I've been fortunate to work with for five years. We've had great success when we've been together. I helped recruit him in here. He's going to say I lied to him, but I didn't. I was just a little off on the timing of things. Eric Bieniemy, everyone knows what a great Buff he is. His name is on the stadium. I would not want to do this without him by my side, because he thinks like me. He knows what I want. He can help get the message through to the players. There's only going to be one message and all the coaches, all of us on the staff, will be playing the same things, there won't be any gray areas, and they'll understand what it's about. I wanted to acknowledge Eric in front of everybody here for coming aboard. We're going to have a great staff. We're going to get that all announced. There are some details we need to do to get that announced, but we'll get that going later on this week. I think they're going to be excited about the direction of Colorado football. You're going to be excited, as I told the athletic department, about the direction of this whole athletic program. At the end of the day, it's not just a football program that is going to the Pac-12. We all are going. I know there are a lot of people out there not sure of us, doubting us, underestimating us, and that's fine. That's okay, it's a process. I understand that. I know it may take some time, but I want you to know I'm not a patient person, so we're going to try to speed up this process the best we can. But at the end of the day, it's going to be something that everybody is proud of, this athletic department and this football program. We are very excited about this challenge ahead. I just want to thank Mr. Benson, Mr.DiStefano, and Mike Bohn, getting us into that conference. I've always felt like that was a great fit. When Eric and I were at UCLA, from a facilities standpoint, from how the university works on academics standpoint, the Pac-12 is a great fit for us. We have a lot of alumni out there. Now when we go on the road, we'll have fans there supporting us. We'll have a crowd, so that after we win we can go sing the fight song with them, another tradition that we need to do. I know it's been a while since we won on the road; we need to get that changed and get that turned around. I'm excited about what's in front of us because I believe this university has a great future. I believe we have a lot of things that other teams in this conference don't have. They can't sell those mountains. They can't sell this community. They can't sell the tradition that we have. At the end of the day, like I said, it's a well-kept secret, but it won't be that well-kept for long. People are going to know about us. Thank you."
On the challenges of being a first-time head coach.
"There are always going to be challenges, whether I've been a coordinator or a head coach before. That's the great thing about football, that it's different every week, every day. I felt like I've been prepared by the people I've worked with, learning about details and focus and singular message from Mike Shanahan, learning about relating to players and knowing how to listen to them from Herm Edwards. Chan Gailey, his spirit of never giving up and getting guys to compete when maybe you're a little bit short-handed. Bill McCartney, motivating, leading guys. Now that is what it is to become a head coach. People out there may look at it as a negative, but I don't. At the end of the day, you're going to judge by my wins and losses on the field. There's no formula for it. There have been plenty of former head coaches that have failed, and there are plenty of guys that have never been head coaches that have succeeded. I'm not worried about that."
On returning to Colorado as a head coach.
"When I got into coaching in 1991, Bill McCartney called me up when I was in the hospital; I just had Tommy John surgery. Anyone who has played for Mac [McCartney] knows how he can be. He said, ‘Embo, I want you in my office at 8 A.M.' I said, ‘Well Mac, I'm in the hospital, it may be a while, but I'll be up there Monday.' He handed a notepad and a pen and he said, ‘I need you to go in the staff meeting room, you're going to coach tight ends for me.' I was like, ‘Well coach, I've already got a job lined up and I'm not really interested.' He said, ‘Well that is what you're going to be; that's who you are.' Anyone who knows Mac knows that that's the end of that debate. I said, ‘Alright, I guess I can help out for the spring.' I grabbed my notepad and pen, I'm heading out and he said, ‘Oh, and you're going to do it for free because I can't pay you.' I looked back and said, ‘Don't worry, I'll call Natalyn and I'll explain what's going on.' After my first practice, he said, ‘What do you think?' I couldn't tell him what I thought, because what I thought was, ‘I want to come back and take your job, do what you're doing,' but I couldn't say that. I told him he was right, that this was what I wanted to do. I've had people doubt me my whole life; that's nothing new. It's like I tell my team, ‘If you don't believe in you, no one else will.' I know to challenge the task at hand, but I never doubted in my mind that I would be standing here one day."
On what he sees as his greatest challenge
"Actually I haven't had a lot of time to spend with the team, but I think the biggest challenge is going to be raising the bar in how we do things. But like I told them, it's not going to be easy, but it's going to be worth it. The way we do everything, it's the competitive fire. When I watch Colorado play, I didn't sense they really believed they could win. They thought it, but they didn't believe it. I didn't sense that competitiveness that I was used to seeing in this great program. That's going to be a challenge. We have to do that, then we have to recruit. We have to get people outside the state of Colorado, and the kids in the state of Colorado to see what this program is about and to want to come here and be a part of it. It's going to be a big challenge. As you look across the roster, the kids are scattered from a lot of different states. When Colorado has won, they've come from California, they've come from Texas, and most importantly, they've come from the state of Colorado. We've got to get the great players to stay and help build it, because they know what it's about. We have to get kids from those areas that I just mentioned to come in here and help us build what we need to do."
On being a minority head coach in the NCAA
"It's a great honor and a great responsibility, because my success will help make a path and create opportunities for more African-American coaches. It's a subject people don't like talking about, but it's there, and I understand what it means. I understand the responsibility. At the end of the day, I'm a football coach. There is no category for how many games a black coach won, or how many games a white coach won. It's how many games did you win. It's just a ‘W' and an ‘L' there, and I have to stack up ‘W's.' At the end of the day, that's what I have to do. I understand responsibility, and if I didn't' understand it, and didn't want to take that role, and handle it, I never would have asked to be in this position. I never would have strived to be in this position. I'm going to embrace it. You're going to have another one that you'll have to ask that question to in Eric Bieniemy. I'm serious, you are. I'm going to have more guys on my staff right now, who you are going to have to ask the same question. One day you won't have to ask that question."
On the style of play the Buffs will implement
"This guy right here [Eric Bieniemy] is my offensive coordinator. We'll be physical on both sides of the ball. We're going to get out here this spring, and as I told the players, it's going to be hard. Hopefully we get through it healthy, but in the end, we have to establish a mentality. When this program has been at its best, it's had its [players] come out on this field or go somewhere else and just line up and run you over. On defense, we'll line up and hit you until you don't want to take it anymore. We have to be physical. I don't say there's a style. I don't use the term West Coast, that's been used since Bill Walsh and it means a million different things, but we're going to be balanced. It will be a pro-style offense. It's going to be an offense where kids can come here and have success. We'll have flexibility within it. [If] they want to play in the NFL, we'll give them a chance to showcase their skills and prepare them for that challenge."
On recruiting to Colorado
"First of all, I've been very fortunate to be very successful in recruiting. It won't be hard for me to sell this university because I have passion for it. I know where it's been. Yes, we're not where we were, but it's a heck of a lot better than it was when I got here [as a player]. We had one dumbbell in the weight room; that's where we started. You talk about rock bottom; that was rock bottom, so I know the ins and outs of this university. I understand who we're going against. I understand some of the negatives that they have. We have a ton of positives here, so that's one factor. Ultimately, kids want to come play for you. I have to sell me. Kids are going to want to come play for me; they're going to want to come play for my coaches. Kids will want to be around them. If you have good coaches and you have coaches that care about [you] and you have coaches that have had success at the highest level, they'll want to be a part of it. Will it be easy at the beginning? No, but as kids start seeing what we're building and talking to the kids in our program and the kids in our program telling them where we're going and feel the excitement from them, we'll get kids to come here."
On whether Eric Bieniemy can recruit
"That's a rumor. You think he can recruit? I don't know who starts these rumors. Yes, that was my reason. Yes it is, because when we were on a staff together, we used to compete against each other, we used to help each other at recruiting. We were recruiting a kid one time, Chris Markey, at UCLA. Eric called me up and he was beside himself. We all know Eric wears his passion and his emotion on his sleeve. He's just going crazy about this kid because he's decided that he wants to go to Tulane. He was a New Orleans kid. I said, ‘Alright, calm down. Let me call him. Let me talk to him.' So I called Chris and talked to him a little bit about why he needs to go to UCLA. He said, ‘Okay, I'll do it, but I'm afraid to tell Coach Bieniemy because I don't know if he's going to still want me.' I said, ‘Don't worry about it, you'll be fine. He'll still want you.' I had Eric call him back a little bit later on, and it was great. We've had a lot of recruiting success together. The same thing happened with me recruiting Maurice Jones-Drew to come here. When I left and went to UCLA, I told Gary [Barnett] I wouldn't recruit him anymore, so I passed the baton to Eric and Eric finished it out and got him to UCLA. We feed off each other in a lot of ways, not just on the field. Having him on the field is a big plus."
On how his and Bieniemy's personalities complement each other
"We are and we aren't [different men]. Like I said, Eric wears his emotions on his sleeve. I'm a little more on the inside, but I will lose it. I don't know how to explain it; it's just a dynamic that exists between the two of us. Like I said, a lot of it is because we have the same goals. A lot of it is that we have the same passions. We talk the same way, as when we talk football. There are just a lot of common denominators there with us. Like I said, that's why if I was going to take this endeavor, or it was him, I wanted to be a part of it with him, and I know he wanted to be a part of it with me. At the end of the day, we felt as a team we can get done anything we set our minds to accomplish."
On how he plans on regaining interest from alumni
"There are a couple ways. The first thing I plan is calling them and telling them I want them back. I'm not saying that wasn't done before; I don't know what was done previously. I just know what I'm going to do. I'm going to call them and tell them I want them back. Another thing is I'd like to have former players, not just the guys with names in the stadium, but some players that have gone on to do some great things in their lives, and have them as honorary captains, and have them around the team during game week. I think it's important. Everyone wants to play in the NFL when they come to college. If I have a room full of freshmen and there are 25 of them in there that I recruited, and I tell them only two are going to go the NFL, you know what happens in that room? Everyone says, ‘Who's the other guy?' That's okay, because I want them to think like that, but it's my staff's job and my job to create second opportunities for them. I think there are guys that have gone, that maybe didn't go to the NFL that have gone on to be very successful. They need to see that. They need to see what other great Buffs have done. You can have a great college career, and that doesn't guarantee you anything in the NFL. It's up to me to get those guys back up here and get them around the team. It's important for the team to see why you need to get your degree. There are other things out there. You can go play in the NFL and be like me, two years. You can be like Eric Bieniemy, nine years. You can go 15 years and to the Hall of Fame, but guess what? We all have the same fate, ‘ex.' At some point you are an ex-football player. Hopefully you live 50 or 60 years beyond that. That's my job and that's my staff's job, to develop them, because that person is more important than the jersey at the end of the day. Getting those guys up there who don't have their name on the jersey, who didn't play in the NFL, and around our players, I think will send a message not only to the former players, but also to our current players about what it means to be a Buff, about being successful in everything you do."
On whether he had to recruit Eric Bieniemy to come to Colorado
"No. At the end of the day, we both saw ourselves in this situation, being at this university or another university. Like I said when that question was asked about African-American coaches, Eric is going to have to answer that question in a few years. I have no doubt about that. It wasn't necessarily recruiting. It was just talking and making sure we were on the same page and making sure that he had what he needed to be successful. It was making sure that he was comfortable with the direction that we wanted to go. It was really dotting some ‘I's' and crossing some ‘T's.' That's all that that process really entailed."
On watching the decline of the program since they left in 2002
"I'll tell you what I told the team this morning. The great thing about the NFL is that players are proud of their schools. Everyone wears their stuff proud. Whether it's [Donovan] McNabb walking in with his Syracuse shorts on with that swagger, because his program won-it was hard watching what happened with the program. Having said that, I know in my heart that Dan Hawkins did the best that he could. I have nothing against Dan Hawkins, and to see him not flourish was hard, because you helped build it. Like I said, when I came here there was one dumbbell in the weight room, and now there's the Dal Ward Center. Now there's the bubble. Now there's academic. Now there's training table. We used to eat training table at Farrand Hall and do study hall at the same time. I was crazy to think how we existed back then, but we wore the baggage because we knew it was going to get better. So, it was difficult, but at the same time, I know where this place can go. I'm more excited about that than what has happened the last couple of years. It's going to be a great run and a great ride."
Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy
On being ready to coach alongside Jon Embree
"First of all, and you have to understand this, yes I have been a position coach. When I was here earlier with Shawn Watson, he did a great job of coordinating the offense. I learned a lot from him. One thing you guys have got to understand that when you're a position coach you also have a great deal of input. So at that time, I was overseeing blitzes and on top of that helping Steve Marshall [CU offensive line coach 2000-02] and coach Dave Borbely [CU offensive line coach 2002-05] with the running game on top of helping coach Watson. I went on to take my career to UCLA. Karl Dorrell [UCLA Head Coach 2003-07] is a great offensive minded coach. I had an opportunity to work with Tom Cable [UCLA offensive coordinator 2004-05]. The unique aspect about that is that Tom Cable, who is having a great deal of success right now with the Oakland Raiders, I had an opportunity to help input the game plan. Not just the running game but also the passing game. I've had a great deal of experience at the collegiate level. Taking it a step farther and taking it into the NFL, I worked with Brad Childress [Minnesota Vikings Head Coach 2006-10] and Darrell Bevell [Vikings Offensive Coordinator 2006-present] and some of the great offensive minded coaches that we have on our staff. We all collectively do our part. It's not like, ‘Hey, Eric Bieniemy tells Adrian Peterson [Vikings running back] to do this.' I have my part in the game plan as well. I help coordinate the game plan. One thing you guys have got to understand about being a coordinator is that it's about being organized and making sure that your staff is having great input. That's going to help us make sure that we the best game plan to give those kids the opportunity. Am I excited about it? Yes. Do I have an official offensive coordinator title? No."
On getting CU back to national prominence
"That's the goal. If you're not in it to win a national championship, then why are you doing this? [I'm not wearing] my national championship ring, I won that as a player. I won this Big 12 Championship [ring] as a coach. This is important to show these kids that we've done this. We've had a great deal of success as coaches. We want to make sure that our kids understand that it takes a tremendous amount of work and a tremendous amount of sacrifice to earn one of these."