DENVER -- Elizabeth and Grant Parsons, 2004 CU alumni, brought their 6-month-old son, Blake, to meet the Buffs' new head football coach Monday.

Jon Embree hugged the black-and-gold-clad baby boy, took a picture with the family and chatted with the Parsons -- who walked away as rejuvenated Buffs fans.

"Now I feel like we can start cheering for our team again," Elizabeth Parsons said.

The Parsons were part of a huge crowd that packed Denver's Blake Street Tavern on Monday afternoon for a meet-and-greet with Embree after his introduction as CU's 24th head football coach.

"We've always supported the football team," Elizabeth Parsons said. "But lately it seemed like we were just going for the community."

CU’s new head football coach, Jon Embree, signs a CU flag for Buffs’ fan Lloyd Trujillo during a reception at the Blake Street Tavern in
CU's new head football coach, Jon Embree, signs a CU flag for Buffs' fan Lloyd Trujillo during a reception at the Blake Street Tavern in downtown Denver. (Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post)

That CU hired a head coach and offensive coordinator -- Eric Bieniemy -- with close ties to the university made all the difference for many Buffs who had lost their faith, Grant Parsons said.

"I'm a true believer that bringing in a Buff who knows the tradition will make a huge difference," he said. "You just can't go wrong with these two."

Carl Cerveny, a 50-year season ticket holder who graduated from CU in 1951, said he's looking forward to the return of tradition to the football program.

"For the fans, it will bring enthusiasm back," said Cerveny, 81. "For the team, as Embree said, they'll go into the game not hoping they win but knowing they can."


Embree has an obvious passion for CU, which is exactly what Buffs fans need as the team moves into a new athletic conference, Cerveny said.

CU regents Joseph Neguse and Michael Carrigan also attended the meet and greet to show their support for the new coach.

"As a life-long fan and a CU grad I'm very excited about our new coaching team," said Carrigan, who chairs the regents' newly created athletic affairs committee. "It's great that they brought home two coaches that know how special CU is. This isn't just another step up the career ladder for them."

Regent Kyle Hybl said he feels there's a consensus among university officials now that the decision has been made official.

"We have great hopes for the team," Hybl said. "There seems to be a lot of electricity and excitement about Embree's statements to returning the playing style to the championship team."

The regents will have to approve multi-year contracts for both Embree and Bieniemy, which will likely take place at their next meeting on Jan. 8, unless the athletic department requests a special meeting to rush the approval.

Some CU students, jaded by years of losing, said they're just relieved to see a change.

"I'm just happy to see a new coach," CU junior Alan Hso said. "I think it's great that he has ties to CU. He'll probably care more about winning than someone off the street."

CU junior Clark Harris said it's a good time for the team to make a coaching change since the team is also switching conferences in the fall, from the Big 12 the Pac-12.

"It's a fresh start for the team, and that will be good for the fans," Harris said.

Matt Knipple, who graduated from CU in 2009, said he's excited about Embree after listening to him speak Monday morning at a news conference before the meet-and-greet.

"He's a hell of a speaker," Knipple said. "His fire for the program came across. He bleeds black and gold, and he's getting people fired up."