Klee: Despite football futility, Buffs have right coach for the job

By: Paul Klee
November 15, 2013 Updated: November 16, 2013 at 8:29 am
photo - Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre paces the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State on Saturday Oct. 12, 2013, in Tempe, Ariz.  Arizona State defeated Colorado 54-13. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre paces the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona State on Saturday Oct. 12, 2013, in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State defeated Colorado 54-13. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) 

BOULDER - Good luck finding a highlight package from Saturday's bottom-of-the-barrel college football game between Colorado and California.

These are the two worst teams in the Pac-12. It's not close, either. Folsom Field attendance, which has bottomed out to 25-year lows this season, will reflect the sorry state of CU football. A Buffs basketball game held outdoors might draw more people.

Get your jokes in now, folks.

By George, the Buffs won't be this bad for long.

CU is stuck in a rut of 14 straight conference losses, a school record for futility. Those losses came by an average of 34.5 points.

But don't blame first-year coach George Michael MacIntyre, who is smart to send this subtle reminder to a frustrated fanbase: "We didn't break it. We're here to fix it. And we're fixing it."

"It's all a process," he said.

Keep the faith, Buffs.

Colorado hired the right man for the job. Like the first Coach Mac three decades ago, Mac2 inherited a football mess that can't be cleaned with an overnight maid service.

This rebuilding job will take time. It will take patience. But by George, it will take.

Right now, it's just rough.

The talent isn't up to the standards of a powerhouse league with four teams ranked in the Top 25.

"I think if we played in the Pac-12 three years ago, it would be a different story," MacIntyre said.

The facilities lag light years behind their conference brethren.

"Washington's facility and stadium? Wow," he said. "That's something else."

The confidence level of the players is that of a 17-year-old boy who can't score a date for prom.

"Part of the process is making them believe," Bryan McGinnis, the director of football operations, told me. "Their confidence is broken."

How can we be so sure about a coach whose last game was a 59-7 loss at Washington?

He's done it before. San Jose State won one game in MacIntyre's first season. Then the Spartans won five in his second, 10 in his third.

"He'll get it going. What he can do is recruit. He'll get guys," former San Jose State star Duke Ihenacho told me. "He'll win five or six games next season. Then it will take off."

I wanted to know when that thing turned, so we can gauge when this thing will turn. Players and staffers involved in the program turnaround at San Jose State shared the same seminal moments. There were two.

"We beat Navy," McGinnis said.

"We won at Fresno State," Ihenacho said.

Those triumphs came at the end of MacIntyre's second season.

"And we had lost a bunch of games by just a few points. So we knew we were close," said Ihenacho, a safety for the Broncos.

McGinnis estimated the process at San Jose State took one and a half seasons to build into a sustainable model, where recruits and players grasped program expectations.

It is foolish to suggest a rebuilding project in the WAC is the same as one in the Pac-12.

But there's a gold coin hidden beneath the Folsom Field rubble: the disaster Mac2 found at San Jose State was in more pitiful shape than what he found at CU.

The Buffs staff believes the talent on this roster, as weak as it is, actually is relatively stronger than the Spartans' roster upon their arrival. That speaks volumes about their work at San Jose State, considering these Buffs had 37 missed tackles in the Washington loss.

"I've never been a part of that. Ever," MacIntyre said. "The most I've ever been a part of is like 20."

When the coaching carousel revved up last December, MacIntyre received up to five phone calls per day from curious athletic directors impressed by his work at San Jose State.

"It's kind of like (when) I was in high school. I never had five girls call me. So I wasn't used to it," he said.

He isn't used to this kind of losing, either. Neither is CU.

"Would I love to have quicker results?" he said. "Absolutely."

Give it time. By George, it will turn.


Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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