It’s what Mike MacIntyre knows. It’s ingrained in him, like a family heirloom his father passed it along to him. It’s in his ‘DNA’ to take on the challenge of turning a program around, as he did at San Jose State and now as he attempts to do so at Colorado.
But he’s ready to move on from that image, he doesn’t want to be that guy forever.
“When we get this turned around, whenever that is, hopefully sooner than later, this will be a good place to stay and enjoy it all,” MacIntyre told me.
In was the fall of 1981, the future Buffs head football coach was only sixteen at the time, when his father, George, was the head coach at Vanderbilt. The Commodores had won a total of nine times in their five previous seasons. They were nothing more than a footnote in the vaunted Southeastern Conference.
The elder MacIntyre’s team had lost five straight games early in the season, including a thirty-plus point loss to then No. 9 Georgia. Likely, it was nearing a point of no return, they were inevitably on their way to another extremely disappointmenting season.
The Commodores headed to Oxford, Mississippi, the home of a mediocre Ole Miss team, and that’s where it all changed.
“There’s always going to be a game or two where you say, ‘Wow, they got some confidence off that game,’” said the Buffs head coach. Vanderbilt won that mid-October afternoon on the road, 27-24. They would go on to win three of their last five games, confident and motivated that they could compete against anybody in SEC let alone the country.
MacIntyre continued, saying about Colorado, “I don’t know when that is going to be but I do know I’ve been seeing that in practice, in how they are interacting with each other. You see little benchmarks along the way.”
The Commodores would go on to win eight games the next season, and George would garner the honor of Bobbdy Dodd Coach of the Year in all of college football. It was the most wins the school has had, up until this past season, but it was sparked that didn’t factor into their record in 1982.
Mike MacIntyre won’t be able to pinpoint a moment that Colorado is back on the right track to success, but he’s confident it will occur.
For now, there is work to be done. The Buffs focus isn’t on getting to that singluar point, nor even recognizing the fact they are there. This turnaround will certainly come if, and only if, they do everything they can to make happen.
“It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of perseverance and a lot of commitment. It takes a lot of individual time investing in young people,” he said.
MacIntyre, George and Mike alike, know what it takes to rebuild a collegiate football program. It’s the staying there, continuance of success, that they still need to figure out.