Former University of Colorado Boulder football player and assistant coach Jon Embree returns to Folsom Field this month as head coach of a struggling team. Here, he talks about rivals, rebuilding, and the team’s future.

Where were you when you found out you were going to return to CU as head coach?

I was in my office. I was with the Washington Redskins and I was working on the game plan for the Giants. I was very excited, but I went to talk with Coach Shanahan right away. I felt it was very important that I finished my obligations there.

How does it feel to come back to Colorado?

There’s a big sense of responsibility—the state of the program and what we are trying to do to get back. It’s an honor to be given that responsibility.

What did you miss about the Boulder campus?

Folsom Field. My favorite spot is that northeast corner where we run out behind Ralphie before a game. It feels like a long time, but it is probably 30 seconds.

Who’s CU’s biggest rival now that the team has moved to the new PAC-12 conference?

We’re at a stage as a program where we have to set our sights on everyone. Everything is a big game. We’ve got to win. We’ve got to learn how to win. After that we can talk and say, “We want to beat these guys.”

What’s going to happen to the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown played against Colorado State University (September 17, Invesco Field at Mile High)?

It’s still going to be a really big game. That will never change.

What are you going to miss about the Big 12?

I’m going to miss playing Nebraska. My dream scenario, now, would be to play them in the Rose Bowl.

Do you ever stop thinking about football?

No. I go to sleep playing catch in the dark.