Mike MacIntyre – 25th CU head football coach

December 10th

Mike MacIntyre press conference

Notes and quotes from the introductory press conference … with some of the better quotes highlighted …

“I feel very blessed, and honored to be the head football coach at the University of Colorado. I just left a program of young men who cared deeply, who went from 120th in the nation to 24th in every poll in 2 1/2 years, raised their APR (Academic Progress Rate) from 930 to 981, and committed to being successful, and a coaching staff that was relentless”.

On his coaching staff: “I look forward to bringing a lot of those guys here to build something special here at Colorado. I’m honored to be a Pac-12 coach. All my life, I’ve wanted to be a football coach. I grew up a coach’s son, and it’s in my blood.”

“I will make you proud, I promise you. I will work tirelessly, we will work correctly, and we will work with passion … We’ll win a lot of football games, but at the same time, these young men will learn a lot of life lessons.”

We’ve got a long way to go, but I”ve been there before, and I know what to do.”

On taking the job: “When I first met with Phil and Mike, I liked what they said, a sense of total commitment to getting it done. I felt also that they had a commitment to young people … and I also felt like when I was young, and playing ball, Colorado was special, and I definitely think that they can get there again. I like the footprint of the Pac-12. I’ve coached in California now, and I’ve recruited that state. I coached in Texas, when I was with the Dallas Cowboys, my kids went to high school there. I think the footprint is there to getting more football players out of the state of Colorado … I like the footprint of the Pac-12, and there is no reason why this school should not be at the top of that conference.”

On meeting the CU players before the press conference: “I can tell they are hurting a little bit, and they should be. They want to prove themselves … I saw the same thing at San Jose State. These young men are hungry. They looked me in the eye, and listened to every word I said. The last thing I told them was, ‘don’t do a double negative. You’re kind of down right now, but make sure you take care of your exams. Make sure you take care of your papers. Don’t push that off and have problems when you come back in January … They all came up and looked me in the eye and shook my hand, I was very impressed with that.”

On similarities with the San Jose State job when he started there: “The year before I got there, they won two games. My first year we won one. We only had 75 scholarships, we were under an APR penalty at that time … I see young men who are hungry … I had (an athletic director) who was tired of getting their butt kicked. They have showed me (at Colorado) what they are going to do (presumably facilities upgrades), so I’m excited for this opportunity.”

On his priorites with the team: “Well, the first thing you’ve got to do is change the culture. That’s easier said than done. It starts with the young men, those young men. I’m going to meet with them individually, and I’m going to start diving into their lives, finding out what makes them tick. It’s more than X’s and O’s, and it’s more than the weight room … Then get out on the road recruiting, as fast as I can. We’ve got some good commitments, we want to make sure we hold those commitments – I’ll be calling those guys tonight … Then I’ve got to find out what all of our team needs are, because I don’t know all of them yet”.

“My slogan is: ‘No excuses. No regrets.’ Find a way. If we can’t do it that way, find another way”.

“There is always a sense of urgency … The word I use is perseverance, instead of patience. I think there is a big difference. Perserverance means your working continously everyday. Even at (San Jose) State when we were 1-12, I could see us continually improving. But once we started seeing success on that scoreboard, and once that success kicked in, and they tasted victory, and wanted to keep tasting it. We had the foundation built. You can’t just start, you’ve got to build a foundation. When you’ve got a foundation built, it just keeps continuously growing. They (SJSU) are going to have a good football team next year, and for awhile … patience is a key word, but I think perserverance is a better word.”

On facilities upgrades: “It’s all in the contract, which I guess will be out in about a week or so. Everything they want to do … there has been a definite commitment made to that … It’s not Mike MacIntyre doing this. It’s all of us. It’s everybody doing their part … Just like with the team. They’ve all got a role, and if they do their role with all of their might, and they understand their role, then we are successful”.

On recruiting, and meeting every high school coach in the state of California: “I tried. My assistant coaches did, but I tried. We are going to absolutely blanket the state of Colorado, and we’re going to absolutely blanket the state of California. I look at California as in-state. There are only seven Division 1-A football schools who play football in the state of California. There are 1,048 high schools who play football in California. Do the math. We can find some guys.”

On recruiting in Colorado: “We are not going to overlook this state. We are going to win this state in recruiting. We need to make sure we do that, and that is one of our big, big goals. We will do network camps around this state, and then we’ll get involved in some network camps in California. It’s not the stars on Rivals or Scout, it’s getting the right 22 to 25 guys who fit what you want – that fit your offense, that fit your defense, and fit the mental makeup of the tenacity that you want. I want them to have a little chip on their shoulder.”

On whether he contacted Colorado or Colorado contacted him: “Colorado contacted me. I was just sitting there, working as hard as I could. I was very flattered that they contacted me, and very excited about the opportunity”.

On the Pac-12 competition: “There are a few physical teams, and the rest are spread out … And we played Colorado State last year, right after Colorado played them, so I got to watch them … I haven’t watched a ton of Pac-12 football, except for the teams we played”.

On whether he will keep any of the existing staff: “I will interview them, kind of see where everything fits, and then find out what guys from San Jose State are coming, and then there are a few other people there we’ll want to talk to. When I went to San Jose State, I kept three of their guys”.

On what offense he plans to run at Colorado: “On offense, we broke the scoring record at the school. Our quarterback broke every record there was. We will have a pistol alignment, basically we’re in the (shot)gun. It allows us to run downhill runs, inside zone, outside zone, gap power. That also allowed us to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quick with bubble screens and the quick screens. But I want to be able to have a run/play action conflict for the defense … our tight end was up for the Mackey Award. We’ll use multiple personnel groups, just like they did had at Boise State. When you play more people, more personnel groups, you have happier kids. They practice harder, they do better in class. They play harder”.

On what defense he plans to run at Colorado: “On defense, we run a 4-3. There are a lot of 4-2-5 principles because everyone is running a lot of four wides, a defense similar to TCU“.

On special teams: “We’re going to be aggressive and attacking. That depends on how good your returners are, hopefully we’ll have some good returners”.

On his philosophy: “If you don’t believe you can win, you are not going to win … We’re going to dive in, and we’re going to play. And eventually, we’re going to win more than we lose … They had better believe they can win”.

On the limitations of not being able to offer multiple year contracts to most of the staff: “I don’t think (it will be a problem). I have a couple of guys on my staff, and they love to joke about it. One has had 30 one-year contracts. I haven’t had that as a problem before. I don’t think it will be now”.

“Just take a look at my wife .. you know I can recruit!”.

Introducing Mike MacIntyre

From the San Jose State Spartans website, (covering only the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and does not include the 10-2 2012 season) … MacIntyre embarks on his third season as head coach after accepting a contract extension through 2017. The 2011 Spartans produced the fourth-best positive turnaround in University football history with a 4.5 games improvement. San Jose State exhibited the resiliency and resourcefulness to find a winning way. 

Four of the team’s five wins were in the final minute of the fourth quarter. The opportunistic Spartans, 5-7 in 2011, were the co-national leaders with their 20 fumble recoveries, tied for fourth in turnovers gained with 33, were disciplined as the second least penalized team in the Football Bowl Subdivision and were ranked in the top-25 in passing offense (23rd) for the first time in eight years.

San Jose State’s three first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selections were the most in a season since joining the WAC in 1996. Five players were named to national award Watch Lists and quarterback Matt Faulkner was the Most Valuable Player of the 2012 Casino del Sol All-Star Game.

Before his 2010 head-coaching debut, the Spartans’ coach instituted the most comprehensive recruiting plan ever at the university and initiated a “summer bridge” program for his first recruiting class to provide his newcomers a smooth transition into life as a college football player. Facing five nationally-ranked teams in the first six weeks of the season, he emphasized and stressed year-round conditioning. The Spartans rebuilt themselves repeatedly, and despite a 1-12 record were positioned late for victory in four of their final five games.

The experiences gained and lessons learned were noticed conference-wide and nationally. Linebacker Keith Smith became the first San Jose State player to be named a WAC Freshman of the Year and a Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America. Linebacker Vince Buhagiar, wide receiver Noel Grisby and punter Harrison Waid also received Freshman All-America recognition. No other Football Bowl Subdivision team had more 2010 Freshman All-Americas than San Jose State.

Now in his 22nd season of coaching, the 47-year old MacIntyre came to San Jose State after two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Duke University. Those Blue Devil defenses were among Duke’s best statistically over a 20-year span. In 2009, Duke’s five wins were the most in a season by the Blue Devils since 1994. The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) named him its 2009 FBS Assistant Coach of the Year.

Prior to joining the staff at Duke, MacIntyre spent five seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets (2007) and Dallas Cowboys (2003-06) coaching defensive backs.  Working for legendary coach Bill Parcells, the Cowboys returned to the playoffs in 2003 and again in 2006 after missing out on post-season competition during the 2000 through 2002 seasons.

MacIntyre has coached on both sides of the ball, spending four years at Ole Miss (1999-2002) where he started as the wide receivers coach for two seasons and the defensive secondary coach in his final two years.  The Rebels posted a 29-19 record in that time with bowl appearances in the 1999 and 2002 Independence Bowls and the 2000 Music City Bowl.  The 2001 Rebels ranked fifth nationally in pass defense, allowing just 161.3 yards per game.

Along his coaching trail, he has mentored many current NFL players including Cincinnati Bengals safety Roy Williams, a five-time Pro Bowl player.  MacIntyre was instrumental in recruiting current San Francisco 49ers All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis to Mississippi.

His coaching career began as a two-year graduate assistant at the University of Georgia (1990-91). He then worked one year as the defensive coordinator at Davidson (1992), four at Tennessee Martin (1993-96), and two at Temple (1997-98).

A 1989 graduate of Georgia Tech, he played two seasons (1987-88) at free safety and punt returner for head coach Bobby Ross.  Prior to becoming a Yellow Jacket, MacIntyre played two seasons (1984-85) at Vanderbilt for his father, George MacIntyre, the head coach of the Commodores from 1979-85.
MacIntyre earned a bachelor’s degree in business management at Georgia Tech and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis on sports management from Georgia in 1991.

Born on March 14, 1965, in Miami, Fla., he and his wife, Trisha, have three children, Jennifer, a junior at Baylor University, Jay Michael and Jonston.

Mike MacIntyre – “Miracle at San Jose State”

From the San Jose Mercury News

In Mike MacIntyre’s first game as head football coach at San Jose State, his team lost at powerhouse Alabama 48-3. Before 101,000 fans in Tuscaloosa, the Spartans were hammered, pounded, overmatched and routed.

MacIntyre still found something positive to say about his players.

“They played harder in the fourth quarter than they did in the third quarter,” he noted.

Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.

That game was in September, 2010. San Jose State went on to finish with a miserable 1-12 record that season. But now, a mere two years later, those won-lost numbers have been almost completely reversed. The Spartans have concluded a 10-2 regular season, are ranked 24th in the nation by every significant national college football poll and are headed to a bowl game.

They also play hard in all four quarters.

The turnaround hasn’t been by accident. It incorporates many factors. Most, however, have been an outgrowth of MacIntyre’s master plan, the one he first outlined as a job candidate. MacIntyre was an assistant coach at Duke University when he interviewed with former San Jose State athletic director Tom Bowen in December of 2009.

Bowen, who now runs the athletic department at the University of Memphis, has vivid memories of those interviewing sessions. MacIntrye’s enthusiastic personality was obvious. Bowen wanted to know what lay beneath. He liked what he found.

“He wasn’t afraid,” Bowen said by telephone this week. “He wasn’t fearful about confronting the challenges.”

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.

Those hurdles involve both geography and money. Often dwarfed in the Bay Area by the attention paid to Stanford and Cal of the Pac-12 Conference, the Spartans play in the less-famous Western Athletic Conference. This provides much less television revenue for the Spartans. They also struggle for attendance and student body support. They have battled with academic issues involving NCAA requisites. It’s difficult for the school to hire and retain top assistant coaches because of the Bay Area’s high living costs.

MacIntyre, during his interview, brought out a folder to address every single issue. Bowen, who eventually offered him the position, remembers being both delighted and slightly taken aback by MacIntyre’s response.

“I remember him saying, ‘I’m ready for this — how about you?’ ” Bowen said, with a chuckle.

Those first months and that 2010 season were indeed a rugged road. Bowen and previous football coach Dick Tomey had improved San Jose State’s infrastructure, especially in the academic areas. Bowen also managed to coax an inner circle of donors into writing big checks for an assistant coach hiring pool. But on the field, losses mounted. Bowen had been forced to schedule three so-called “body bag” games at Alabama, Wisconsin and Utah to fill the program’s coffers. In those games, San Jose State was outscored 131-20.

Bowen insists he had no serious concerns about MacIntyre through the 1-12 slog. But he recalls being comforted when his special assistant, former Stanford and SJSU coach John Ralston, walked into Bowen’s office and said of MacIntyre: “I like this guy. We’re going to be OK.” And there were some signs of progress, even in that opening squash job at Alabama. San Jose State committed no stupid penalties and only one turnover. The players never seemed to give up.

“We definitely learned from those games,” said linebacker Vince Buhagiar, who started that game at Alabama as a wide-eyed freshman, just a few months out of Clayton Valley High School. “Every game we lost, we learned something. It actually made us hungry for the next game.”

The subsequent offseason of 2010-11 then allowed MacIntrye to implement two key master-plan moves. He realized his team needed to match up better physically with opponents. He was impressed with how Stanford had beefed up and become more powerful under coaches Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw. So MacIntyre reached out and hired Stanford’s assistant conditioning coach, Dave Forman.

“I want us to look like a different football team when we get off the bus in 2012,” MacIntyre told Forman, thinking two years ahead.

“Coach, I think we can look like a different team getting off the bus in 2011,” Forman replied, an answer MacIntyre liked.

Forman subsequently instituted an aggressive strength program, using a mantra he stole from motivational speaker Jim Rohn: “You can either choose the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”

MacIntrye, meanwhile, organized a plan to have he or one of his assistant coaches meet and personally shake the hand of every single high school football coach in California. MacIntyre also organized “traveling San Jose State camps” at high school fields in San Diego, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Ontario and Sacramento. They were one-day clinics that cost $40 for players to attend — but also served as evaluation sessions. The high school coaches were encouraged to send along any player they thought had college potential.

“California is like four states in one,” MacIntyre said. “It was a way for us to spread the word about San Jose State. If we sign 20 players in a recruiting season, at least 17 or 20 of them have been at our camps.”

The new recruiting effort, plus the conditioning ramp-up, made the Spartans far more competitive in 2011. MacIntyre was also able to keep his coaching staff stable. Although San Jose State finished with a 5-7 record, late season victories over Navy and Fresno State created momentum moving forward.

“I could see in the players’ eyes that it was working,” MacIntyre said. “The culture had changed.”

The 2012 season began in September with a hard-fought 20-17 loss to eventual Pac-12 champion Stanford. Afterward, Cardinal head coach Shaw said he was impressed with how much more physical San Jose State had become. San Jose State went on to win 10 of the next 11 games, including impressive victories over San Diego State, Navy and BYU. It helped that the landscape of San Jose State’s conference — the WAC — had changed radically. Two of its best football programs, Boise State and Fresno State, had joined the Mountain West Conference. They were replaced by less powerful programs such as Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. This lessened the week-by-week physical toll on the Spartans and allowed them to get on a roll.

“Once we started winning, we just kept going,” MacIntyre said.

And they stayed healthy. Forman’s strength program was paying big dividends. In the 2010 season, the Spartans had lost 80 cumulative games because of injuries sustained by players on the two-deep roster — the first two offensive and defensive units. In 2011, that figure dropped to 41 games missed. This season, the number was 28.

The Spartans closed the season looking stronger than any SJSU team of the past 20 years, with solid grind-out victories over BYU and Louisiana Tech. The next task is to beat Bowling Green in the Military Bowl, scheduled for Dec. 27 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.

Between now and then, the players say, they are enjoying the feedback from fellow SJSU students. It may be unprecedented.

“The way it is on campus right now, I never thought it would be that way,” Buhagiar said. “Guys will be walking down halls and getting high fives. People you don’t know will stop you and congratulate you on a game or on the team’s ranking. That’s new for us.”

To keep the momentum going, new SJSU athletic director Gene Bleymaier has been shaking the trees and raising money for larger staff salaries and new facilities. MacIntrye has been mentioned for other head coaching jobs but says he plans to stay at SJSU for a while. He will definitely have a smile on his face when his team climbs on the charter flight to D.C. in two weeks.

“We look like a strong, athletic football team,” MacIntyre said. “We look like a good football team. And we are. It’s a long way from 48-3 in Tuscaloosa.

5 Replies to “Mike MacIntyre – Head coach”

  1. Stuart – looks like there is a typo. Above you have, “the word I use is patience, instead of perseverance.:” I think he actually said, “the word I use is perseverance, instead of patience.”

    Love all of your coverage! Thank you.


  2. Stuart,
    Since you posted the “Miracle at San Jose State” article prior to him receiving the job, did you have an inkling that he would be the choice over Coach Deruyter?

    1. Chuck,
      MacIntyre certainly seemed like a logical option, with his three years of rebuilding to only one for DeRuyter.
      We’ll see how it works out …

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