Ed McCaffrey, a former All-Pro wide receiver with the Denver Broncos, will not be returning as a coach with Northern Colorado after three seasons, the university said Monday. The Bears didn’t play football during the 2020 pandemic season, but McCaffrey led UNC to a 6–16 record in two seasons at the Big Sky Conference.
The dismissal ended what had become odd for one of Colorado’s most famous athletes. McCaffrey was hired in Northern Colorado despite having no coaching experience beyond high school level. He worked as a coach at Valor Christian High School, but previously served as commissioner for Pacific Pro Football, a failed professional league, and radio analyst for Denver Broncos games.
“It’s 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 all the best for the future.”
During McCaffrey’s tenure, players alleged that he forged scholarships in ways prohibited by the NCAA and favored FBS transfers. according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald. Staff were also reported to have received no reports of upcoming opponents and often set games one or two days before games. Twenty-eight players transitioned from the program after McCaffrey’s first full season, finishing third among FCS teams.
In another bizarre incident, offensive coordinator Max McCaffrey — Ed’s son who was hired with no coaching experience — was reprimanded after he throw away broken clipboard into the stands and hit a fan during a game against the state of Montana. An MSU fan told the Denver Post that he interrupted McCaffrey because of the size of his pants after the coach broke the notebook after the interception.
McCaffrey Sr. earned All-American honors at Stanford in 1990 and played 13 seasons in the NFL for three different organizations, winning three Super Bowls. However, his best years were with John Elway in Denver. In 1998, McCaffrey earned All-Pro honors with 64 passes for 1,053 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The McCaffrey family has a long line of athletes. Ed’s wife, Lisa, was a Stanford football player and daughter of Olympic sprinter Dave Syme. Their son, Christian, was a Heisman Trophy finalist at Stanford and is now an All-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. Luke caught 51 passes for 656 yards and six touchdowns for the Owls in 2022.