Here's one of the grumbles you heard before Colorado officially joined the Pac-10: The school is not committed to football. Just consider how it treats its assistant coaches, with limits on multiyear contracts due to state law.
Well, as the program heads into Pac-12 play, it's increasing its investment, according to Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera. Ringo reports that new coach Jon Embree's nine full-time assistants will get $857,109 more than what former coach Dan Hawkins' nine assistant coaches made last year. This, according to athletic director Mike Bohn, is "an investment in the future of the program."
"It's the whole question about being competitive," Bohn told the Daily Camera. "As we talked with Jon, from the very first time we talked with him in New York to finalize our job offer to him, we recognized the importance of having high-quality assistant coaches with great experience, passion for CU and the ability to recruit marquee student-athletes."
Bohn told the newspaper that Embree agreed to a smaller guaranteed salary so the school could pay his assistants more. Embree's incentive-laden contract will pay him $725,000 this season, which is not much over half of what Hawkins was making ($1,391,903).
A significant portion of this increase is going to offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
A big chunk of the increase can be attributed to the multiyear deal signed by offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who became the highest paid assistant in CU history when he agreed to a deal that pays him roughly $500,000 annually.
If the $150,000 signing bonus Bieniemy was given to leave his post as assistant head coach of the Minnesota Vikings is factored in, Colorado is paying its 2011 assistants more than $1 million above what it paid its 2010 staff.
There are multiple takeaways here.
First, obviously Colorado is showing some seriousness about football moving forward. (We can debate spending on sports when the academic side is cutting back another day.) Second, Embree's unselfishness fits in with his profile: He's fully committed to the program where he played and was a long-time assistant. And, third, this is smart on Embree's part.
While we love to glamorize rock-star coaches, the secret to becoming a rock-star coach is hiring a great staff -- and paying said assistants enough to keep them around for a while.
And guess what? If Colorado starts to compete for Pac-12 South titles, Embree will get paid. And he knows that. The big money is on the back end. If you are confident enough that you'll be successful, then patience is a virtue.