Mike MacIntyre was named CU’s 25th head football coach on Dec. 10. He came to the Buffs from San Jose State where the Spartans improved from 1-12 his first season (2010) to 10-2 in 2012 before he left. It was San Jose’s first 10-win season since 1987.
You’re considered a turnaround specialist. This program hasn’t had a winning season in the last seven years. What are a couple of key things to turn a program around?
First, with the players who are here, get them believing in themselves, get them having a great attitude. Treat them the right way. Then also give them the ability to get better as athletes. Care about them off the field and in the classroom.
The second thing is making sure you’re recruiting young men who want to be here, who want to be successful and who have a kind of little chip on their shoulder, that have a work ethic and want to be something special. Put it all together with your year-round and academic programs and you keep working the process. Eventually the product shows up on the field.
Talk about the influence your dad [former Vanderbilt coach George MacIntyre] has had on you.
He’s a man who cares tremendously about the student, about the young man. He cares more about that than he does winning. He was a great coach and a great motivator and very intense, but he built it on a foundation with the kids. The by-product was winning. He didn’t do it the other way.
What made this job particularly attractive?
Number 1, it is the University of Colorado. It’s had a lot of great success. I played college football at Georgia Tech and graduated in ’89. A year later it split the national championship with CU, so I kind of followed it from afar. I always thought a lot of Coach [Bill] McCartney, the kind of man he is, what he stood for, how he led his program.
And I felt like programs kind of go in cycles. I thought this was a great opportunity to take a proud university, a proud program back up because everybody wants it to go back up.
At San Jose State in a couple of years you went from a very poor record to a very good one. Where do you see CU in two or three years?
Well, I hope there are a lot more W’s than there are L’s, and that’s our plan. But it’s a process. It’s not “snap your fingers and everything changes.” So we’ve got to get everyone involved to keep moving this forward. The thing I like to say all the time is, “No excuses, no regrets.” We can’t make an excuse for anything. We’ve got to find a way to do it, and we will.
Jon Embree (Comm’88) got two years as head coach. Are you confident you’ll have the time to get this turned around?
In the coaching world, there’s never a definite. I think what everyone wants to see is for you to keep making progress. You keep showing progress, even if it’s little increments.
You’ve been characterized as a risk-taker. Do you think that’s accurate?
I don’t think you can ever accomplish anything in life if you don’t take risks. I’m not a risk-taker that would go climb a mountain without a rope to save me, but I’d climb a mountain. I’d take the challenge. So I’d say I’m a risk-taker as far as it’s calculated, it’s planned, not on a whim. It’s with a lot of passion, a lot of heart.
Photo courtesy Cliff Grassmick