However, after McCartney told the newspaper that the offer had been made, Colorado officials quickly said the report was not accurate.
"The rumors that the University of Colorado has hired our next head football coach are untrue," athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement. "In the interests of the young men in our program, and our fans and supporters, I want to make clear that the search committee has not yet completed its work, and we have not yet offered the job to any candidate. We are hopeful of making a head coach announcement in the coming days and beginning a new and exciting era of CU football."
Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that Embree had not finalized a contract, but is "expected" to sign a contract possibly as early as next week. The story called reports of the deal being done as "premature."
McCartney also has been considered a candidate for the job. He told the Post that one plan was for him to take the job, bring in Embree and Minnesota Vikings assistant head coach/offense Eric Bieniemy as assistants, and groom one of the two to become the head coach after a period of a few years.
According to McCartney, the school elected to eliminate him from contention, and the Buffaloes' coach from 1982 to 1994 said he pushed for Embree and Bieniemy, two of his former players, to succeed to Dan Hawkins, who was fired last month.
After practice in Ashburn, Va., on Thursday, Embree was escorted off the field by a Redskins public relations employee, who said: "Coach can't comment at this time yet, so we'll deal with it another time."
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he hopes Embree gets his "dream job" in Boulder, Colo., however.
"I just read what Coach McCartney had said, and it sounded like he's got a good chance to get the job," Shanahan said. "I have talked to a couple of people on the board already, and they had asked me if I would release him or let him go earlier than the end of the season, and I told them I would if he was given the job to help him with recruiting and get his staff.
"I've always believed and always had a philosophy that when one of your assistant coaches has a chance to be a head coach and really upgrade their job and a lifelong dream for him, that I'd be more than happy to let him go early," Shanahan said. "We've got a lot of quality coaches on our staff that can pick up the slack. Jon's just a heck of a football coach, heck of a guy, and if he does get the job I'd say he would do a fantastic job."
Shanahan said he wasn't sure if Embree actually was mulling an offer from the Buffaloes.
Shanahan said he "wouldn't even try" to make a counteroffer to make Embree stay. "I think he would be perfect for that scenario if it does happen, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he gets his dream job."
Embree would be the first black head football coach at Colorado. He also is a former Buffaloes player, something those around the school wanted. Embree was considered for the job when Hawkins was hired in 2005.
Bieniemy and Embree both were interviewed last Saturday in the Washington D.C., area. Bieniemy was there with the Vikings, who were playing Embree's Redskins.
"It was never about me doing it again," McCartney told the paper. "It was about setting the table for a black man to come in [as head coach]. And [Bohn] hired one. Now, give him a chance."
Hawkins was fired as Buffs coach Nov. 9 after going 19-39 and losing his last 17 games outside Colorado. He was dismissed three days after Colorado blew a 28-point lead at Kansas with 11 minutes to play, the biggest collapse in the 121-year history of the program.
Longtime assistant Brian Cabral took over on an interim basis and went 2-1 as the Buffs finished 5-7, their fifth straight losing season.
According to the Denver Post report, Colorado would like Embree to take the job and hire Bieniemy as his offensive coordinator.
Bieniemy declined comment through a team spokesman.
David Ubben covers Big 12 football for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.