As CU-Boulder concluded the worst football season in its history, perhaps it was inevitable that the school would show coach Jon Embree the door. On numbers alone, the firing made sense: Embree’s two-year record was 4-21, and this year’s beyond-pathetic 1-11 team was CU’s seventh straight losing squad.

In an interview on Monday, Embree lamented that he wasn’t given more time to show results, and given the youth of his squad—the team had only eight seniors this year—it’s reasonable to assume the team could improve, and soon.

Unfortunately, jettisoning the guy on the sideline won’t mean anything if the Buffs don’t add some real talent on the field. There currently are about a dozen CU alums in the NFL, and virtually all of them are role players at best.

This isn’t the kind of track record that makes blue-chip high schoolers want to play here. CU was anticipating a recruiting boost from its move to the PAC-12 conference because it would add revenues to the program while also giving it more West Coast exposure. While CU can’t realistically hope to match the recruiting prowess of USC or Oregon, there’s no reason it shouldn’t eventually, and routinely, be able to land in the top half of the PAC-12’s talent battle.

The question is, who is the right person to attract such kids? The early list of possible replacements for Embree is mostly retreads or potentially rising stars; given the hole the Buffs have dug for themselves, a big-name savior simply isn’t likely to be interested in this job. What the school needs to do is commit to a coach who can restore some excitement on the field by finding dynamic players on the recruiting trail.

Maybe CU will never be a perennial national powerhouse, but the school has all the ingredients it needs—including conference (and TV) ties, attractive geographical and educational offerings, and improving facilities—to at least put the Buffaloes in a bowl game every year. The school, its board, boosters, and alums didn’t sign up for the PAC-12 in order to be a perennial conference doormat. That’s why the next coaching choice CU’s administration makes will be the biggest personnel decision in school history.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock