If you asked a majority of people in Colorado who Mike MacIntyre was three years ago, most of them would be drawing a blank. If you asked the former football coach of the San Jose State Spartans, he would tell you that he was a man of "passion" and would work to represent CU's core values. First impressions of the coach were similar to a politician who would stop at nothing for a vote. Not as a man who represented his own interest, but rather one who would work on behalf of the masses.
As he walked into the club level at Folsom Field, waiting to be introduced as new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, one thing was apparent-- his confidence filled the room. Macintyre noted how he took San Jose State from being "120th in the nation to 24th in every poll." The coach offered a new prospective and unlike the two coaches that preceded him, he brought something to the table that CU lacked. Two years removed from joining a new conference, the program was going in a new direction. And MacIntyre had made a living in coaching by taking programs in a new direction. He seemed like a good fit for a struggling big time program.
Coach MacIntyre walked into possibly the worst situation in college football. Sure, other teams were just as bad, but no one else had to face upper echelon teams every single week in conference play. The culture was stagnant, the cupboards were bare, and the road was long.
Mac's tenure up to this point has focused on growth and prosperity. When you're not winning, three years can seem like an eternity in college coaching. The idea of getting the right players on the field with winning being a secondary conclusion has been a struggle for MacIntyre, who's approaching the mark of a having a full recruiting cycle elapse under his watch at CU.
A bright side for the Buffs this year has been the emergence of a better recruiting class. The class for 2017 is currently on track as being the best in almost a decade, due to the addition of coordinators Darrin Chiaverini & Jim Leavitt and renewed recruiting efforts from staff mainstays. The two have been the difference in extending the program's effort in battleground states like Texas and Florida. But really, Coach Chiaverini offers much more than ties to Texas. He completely changed how the assistant coaches handle recruiting and made a very concerted effort on social media. As recruiting coordinator, he has been an absolute home run and helped land many of the top prospects for CU. If he is as good of an offensive coordinator as he is a recruiting coordinator, the fans are in for some fireworks this year. And Jim Leavitt offers more than a Florida connection. His passion has really connected with recruits, and his track record speaks for itself. He has the experience needed to get in the door and the personality to keep him in the room.
If history is an indication of how important this season is to MacIntyre, the results will be make or break on the field. Not only in recruiting, but in the win column.
Since 1959, six coaches have spent less time with the program than Mac. The coaching tenure during that time is an average of five seasons. Eleven coaches over the past 56 seasons and no coach has more than four seasons with the exception of Eddie Crowder, Bill McCartney and Gary Barnett.
The "excitement" for MacIntyre comes this season and the efforts trying to resurrecting this football program will come full circle. He knew the battle wasn't going to be an easy one.
"We will work tireless. We will work correctly. And we work with passion. As you get to know me, the one thing you'll say is 'He has passion.' You might say some other things, but you'll say, 'He has passion.'"
The same passion for MacIntyre has to start amounting to wins. He has his kids in his system, and this is the culmination of what he has built so tirelessly. A veteran team full of players that have bigger chips on their shoulder than everyone else to make up for the perceived lack of talent. Throughout college football history, these are the teams that can surprise, and CU fans are hoping that history repeats itself.
The ambition for winning is no longer a substitute for results. MacIntyre has the resources to turn the program around and said it best in own words, "We have a long way to go. But I've been there before, and I know what to do."