The University of Northern Colorado hired their 4th head coach since becoming a D1/FCS program and it’s a name that everyone in the state of Colorado should know (if you don’t then you likely aren’t reading this.) Ed McCaffrey: 2 time SB champ with the Denver Broncos, top 5 in receiving yards in Broncos history and won a high school state title with his previous team, Valor Christian, in 2018. Although he only coached 2 seasons with Valor, UNC AD Darren Dunn is confident his guy will bring excitement, fanfare and more importantly, wins back to a program that has seen very little success and a whole lot of losing. “he’s such an unbelievable person and you want to be around him,” Dunn told Voice of the Bears, Troy Coverdale on 1310 KFKA, “And I thought he would be a great coach here.”
Let’s face it, this was a great hire for UNC football, a team that has averaged just over 2 wins per season since joining the FCS in 2006, but not in the conventional way. A great NFL career and a pair of seasons coaching high school football are hardly enough to warrant a college football head coaching job. Earnest Collins Jr. was the head coach for Alcorn State and a position coach for UNC, Kansas and UCF before taking the job in Greeley. But, as we know, Collins didn’t work out for the Bears so UNC went in a different direction entirely. I was told there were plenty of applicants with prior head coaching experience or at the very least, college football experience (position coach/coordinator) but in the end, Dunn and company went with the celebrity hire: Mr. Good Feet. Was it the best football hire? Based on the above information, no. Even if he coached at Valor for 10 years I would say the same thing. The college game is WAY different. High School football is a sport. College football is a business; recruiting, transfers, scholarships, ticket sales and so on make being a head football coach much more than film study and x’s and o’s. Again, based on experience, being a stud WR in the NFL and a cup of coffee as a high school football coach, albeit a strong cup, wouldn’t be my first choice.
That all being said, it was still the right move. Yes, the program ultimately needs to win some games but right now they need support. They need more fans and they need the current fans to actually go to games. The Bears drew just 4,554 per home game last fall, just over 50 percent capacity at Nottingham Field. The hire was a publicity stunt but in this case, that doesn’t carry the negative connotation that is usually linked to a celebrity hire. A shot in the arm was needed and now that the hire is official, no one else would make as good of sense as “Eddy.” McCaffrey, for at least a couple of seasons, could win less than what Earnest did but being a Bronco has power. Being a fan favorite has even more. I attended his opening press conference inside the UC Center on campus and for the first time since I’ve lived in the area there was legitimate excitement. I believe the room had close to 300 chairs and not everyone got to sit down. One woman had a sign that read “Thanks Santa, you can forget the puppy.” Cheerleaders lined the entrance and the crowd hung on every word that came out of McCaffrey’s mouth. Reporters from all over the state showed up with cameras and microphones, something I’ve never seen surround UNC’s football program. It was perhaps the shortest announcement press conference I have attended but it told all those in attendance enough; Ed McCaffrey is actually the head coach of the UNC Bears. We also learned that he was originally contacting Darren Dunn to promote someone else for the job but like a Jedi Knight, Mr. Dunn turned the conversation around and McCaffrey found himself interviewing for the job. And if all the excitment of hiring one of John Elway’s favorite targets wasn’t enough, the announcement came about 15 minutes before the team a few miles north of Greeley introduced their next head coach in Steve Addazio. I was told it was not UNC’s plan to steal Colorado State’s thunder but one can’t help but draw that conclusion. I was actually at Addazio’s press conference and witnessed fans and reporters gasp when they saw the news on their twitter feed and social alerts. The day belonged to UNC and for now, the Bears have the popular vote.
Will Ed bring glory back to UNC? My gut tells me no. I can’t help but wonder if McCaffrey is in way over his head. I would have liked him to have at least one season around the college game in some coaching capacity. But for now, on a warm day in January 2020, Bears fans are pumped. This was the ONLY move now that the smoke has cleared. It may not be the best “football” move but come on, Ed McCaffrey is BACK on campus and most of us are chomping at the bit to chant, “Eddy, Eddy, Eddy!”