Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On Mike MacIntyre

Alright, time to talk myself into yet another football coach.

After two weeks of searching - and a few misleads - the Buffs finally have their new coach.  Welcome aboard Mike MacIntyre! No, not the dopey British comedian -- the dude from San Jose State. (Yep, San Jose State.  Deal with it.)  For $2 million per year in salary, another $2.6 million for the staff, and upwards of $200 million in facilities improvement commitments, I hope you're worth all the trouble.
Well, we're movin' on up!  From:
So, what are we to make of this, the third CU coach in three seasons?  On the surface, Coach Mac v. 2.0 seems eerily similar to Dan Hawkins.  Blond, bowl-cut, success in the WAC, press calling him a 'home run,' a son who apparently plays QB. (Hell, to my ear, he even sounds a little like him) Dig a little deeper, however, and he appears as a completely different coach.

Mike comes from a very respected coaching tree, having learned under the great Bill Parcels, while toiling for the Dallas Cowboys.  He also has experience recruiting in the SEC (Ole Miss), and received national recognition for his work as Duke's defensive coordinator in '09.  His extended resume is solid on multiple levels, and far deeper than either of his recent predecessors.

What's more, he's also not a 'program' hire. His success at SJSU wasn't built upon the backs of others, or dependent on a pre-built foundation.  He took over a truly awful San Jose State program, one that was on the verge of dissolution, and dragged them from one win to 10 wins in only three seasons. 
"The San Jose State football program definitely does offer special hurdles -- some would call them obstacle courses with brick walls topped by barbed wire -- compared to others in the top tier of college football. It is why the Spartans have had only three winning seasons in the past 20 years."   (-link)
Anyone with a pulse would admit that, while coaching at CU can be a golden opportunity, it also presents a peculiar set of challenges.  MacIntyre, through his time building at SJSU, is familiar with how to work around road blocks, and seems as seasoned as any in the gritty work of building something out of nothing.

His victories at SJSU were not won through gimmicks, they were hard fought, and well earned.  Coach MikeMac knows what it's like to dig into a rough situation, and make headway quickly. That's something that neither Hawk nor Embree could claim heading into the CU job.
He won at SJSU, which many thought was an impossibility.
Hell, he even knows a thing or two about beating up on CSU!  What's not to like?

There are some red flags.  Most alarming is that his renaissance at San Jose State came during a period where the WAC disintegrated to the point that there was little legitimate competition to challenge the Spartans this season.  That's about as far from BCS as you can get.  Additionally, during his introductory press conference, he openly admitted to knowing nothing about the current roster or recruiting targets.  His practical head-coaching resume is soft, and he is a Colorado neophyte.

But, beyond that, he seems like a solid hire, a man with a plan, who's ready to do the hard work required to save this sinking ship.  He sounds like the kind of guy who will bring in real culture change.  Not just platitudes, or the unearthing of antiquated tradition.  Real, honest-to-God, culture change.

Of course, this could be another case of smoke and mirrors, another trap door ready to plunge this beleaguered program into another abyss.  It would take a fool to be blindly optimistic about the prospects of this program, considering what has transpired over the last decade. 

In the end, however, I'm a Buff.  I'll stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any man who wants to take a swing.  Butch Jones was uncomfortable with the effort required to step up to the plate, Jon Embree wasn't capable of standing upright in the box when the pitch came in, and Dan Hawkins swung and missed at a bad curveball in the dirt.  The Buffs are down to their last strike, with two outs, and a runner on first.  Can Mac 2.0 start a two-out rally all by himself?

'I'm ready for this -- how about you?'


"Sounds... seems" 

We're all guessing here.  I don't know if MikeMac is the guy, anymore than his detractors know that he isn't.  For what it's worth, I expect him to be gone in four years - one way, or the other (an SEC guy isn't going to become a Boulder lifer, afterall).  

The point is this: he's about as good a hire as could be made in this situation.  Despite big-money, above-market offers to coaches like Charlie Strong, Butch Jones, and Dan Mullen, no one in a comfortable situation wanted to come here.  If there was any doubt that CU sat on a shaky foundation before, the whining baby routine played by the Buffs4Life crew in recent weeks cemented that opinion, and poisoned the hiring well.  As a result, anyone still out there whining that Mike Bohn didn't land a whale is just being childishly unrealistic (*cough* Alfred Williams *cough*).

The media in this town spent the last two weeks telling the whole world how buffoonish and lousy the CU AD was, and then complained when no one wanted to jump into the situation.  How did you expect this would play out?  You're part of the problem!

No, the Denver/Boulder media doesn't owe a damn thing to CU.  But it does serve their interests for the Buffs to be a vibrant, competitive product. Bashing what goes down up on the Hill will spike the needle for a few days, but nothing generates hits, viewers, and readers like a winner.  I'm not saying that the media needs to be beholden to the Buffs - certainly, call them out for their shit when appropriate - but they need to understand their role in helping this dying program save itself from extinction.

You all may now go back to forgetting about the Buffs, and return to your regular all-Broncos-all-the-time format.


JT said...

Be honest. Do you think the Broncos will get a first round bye?

~Tuba John

RumblinBuff said...

You forgot to say "I'll hang up and listen."