NCAA Football

Northern Colorado fires Ed McCaffrey: Former All-Pro WR goes 6-16 in three seasons marred by controversy

Northern Colorado fires Ed McCaffrey: Former All-Pro WR goes 6-16 in three seasons marred by controversy

Northern Colorado fires Ed McCaffrey: Former All-Pro WR goes 6-16 in three seasons marred by controversy

Ed McCaffrey, a former pro with the Denver Broncos, will not return as FCS Northern Colorado’s coach after three seasons, the university announced Monday. The Bears did not play football during the 2020 pandemic season, but McCaffrey led UNC to a 6-16 record in two seasons in the Big Sky Conference.

The firing ends what has been a surprising tenure for one of Colorado’s most famous athletes. McCaffrey was hired by Northern Colorado despite having no coaching experience beyond the high school level. He coached at Valor Christian High School, but previously served as the commissioner of Pacific Pro Football, a defunct professional league, and as a radio analyst for Denver Broncos games.

“This is never an easy decision,” Northern Colorado athletic director Darren Dunn said in a statement. “We appreciate all the work, time and energy Coach McCaffrey has put into the program and wish him the best in the future.”

During McCaffrey’s tenure, players alleged he rigged scholarships in ways prohibited by the NCAA and showed favoritism to FBS transfers, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald. The staff also reportedly did not receive reports on upcoming opponents and often set up games a day or two before the games. Twenty-eight players transferred from the program after McCaffrey’s first full season, tied for third among FCS teams.

In another surprising incident, offensive coordinator Max McCaffrey — Ed’s son, who was hired with no prior coaching experience — was reprimanded after throw a broken clipboard into the stands and punched a fan during a game against Montana State. An MSU fan told the Denver Post that he asked McCaffrey about his pants size after the coach broke the clipboard after the interception.

McCaffrey Sr. earned All-American honors at Stanford in 1990 and went on to play 13 seasons in NFL for three different organizations, winning three Super Bowls. However, his best years came alongside John Elway in Denver. McCaffrey earned All-Pro honors in 1998 after catching 64 passes for 1,053 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The McCaffrey family has a long lineage of athletes. Ed’s wife, Lisa, was a soccer player at Stanford and the daughter of Olympic sprinter Dave Syme. Their son, Christian, was a Heisman Trophy finalist at Stanford and is now a pro running back for the San Francisco 49ers. Other sons Max (Duke), Dylan (Michigan and Northern Colorado) and Luke (Nebraska and Rice) also played Power Five football. In 2022, Luke caught 51 passes for 656 yards and six touchdowns for the Owls.





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