The Legacy of Mike MacIntyre – Head Coach at Colorado, 2013-2018

Mike MacIntyre was the head coach at the University of Colorado from December 10, 2012, to November 18, 2018. In almost six full seasons as the Buff head coach, MacIntyre accumulated an overall record of 30-44.

Broken down by the numbers, MacIntyre’s legacy is as follows:

— At home: 18-18; on the road: 7-23; neutral sites: 5-3;

— Against non-conference opponents: 16-5; against Pac-12 opponents: 14-39;

— Against unranked teams: 28-24; against ranked opponents: 2-20.

Historic numbers aside, Colorado fans will look back at the Mike MacIntyre era in different ways. For me, his legacy can be broken down as follows:

— Oregon State was MacIntyre’s Waterloo

The Dan Hawkins era at Colorado opened with a thud in 2006, with a season-opening loss to Montana State. Hawkins survived, however, to coach well into the 2010 season, when a 52-45 loss to Kansas resulted in his firing with three games still remaining on the schedule.

It was bad enough that Hawkins lost to Kansas. It was the way the Buffs lost to the Jayhawks which was his ultimate undoing.

Colorado had a 45-17 lead against the hapless Jayhawks … in the fourth quarter. Remarkably, Kansas ran off 35 straight points,in the final 11 minutes, winning 52-45, and sealing the fate of Dan Hawkins.

“We thought the game was over [at halftime],” said CU running back Rodney Stewart, who rushed for 177 yards and three touchdowns against the Jayhawks. “We thought they were going to give up, but they never did.”

Kansas did rally, and Dan Hawkins was out of a job.

Fast forward to October 27, 2018. Colorado, 5-2 on the season, and still confident, leads Oregon State, 31-3, early in the third quarter. This was not unexpected, as Oregon State had not defeated an FBS team since 2016.

Instead of folding, the Beavers rallied, eventually winning in overtime, 41-34.

It wasn’t only the loss that cost Mike MacIntyre his job. It was the way the Buffs lost to the Beavers.

“I guess you’d call this a gut-wrencher,” CU coach Mike MacIntyre said after his Buffaloes matched the Kansas debacle as the worst come-from-head loss in school history. “We were rolling,” MacIntyre said, “and the wheels just rolled right off.”

It took a few more weeks, but the Oregon State game was MacIntyre’s ultimate downfall. Had the Buffs defeated the Beavers, a sixth win and a bowl bid would have been secured … and MacIntyre may have kept his job into the 2019 season.

— The 2016 season was a fluke

Had Mike MacIntyre continued on as the head coach at Colorado, he may have had the chance to show that the 2016 season, in which the Buffs posted a 10-4 overall record, 8-1 in Pac-12 play, was not an anomaly, but a precursor of great seasons to come.

Now we will never know.

With last place finishes in the Pac-12 South division in five of his six seasons at Colorado, there is no other way to look at the 2016 season and Mike MacIntyre and see it as anything other than a fluke.

In 2016, the Buffs went 8-1 in Pac-12 play – 8-2 if you count the loss to Washington in the Pac-12 title game.

In Mike MacIntyre’s other five seasons, the Buffs went 6-37, never winning more than two Pac-12 conference games in any other year.

Finishing last has become customary for Colorado as a member of the Pac-12, but it is worth noting that has never been the norm before.

In CU’s entire run as a member of the Big Seven, the Big Eight, and the Big 12, Colorado never finished alone in last place in the conference, or in a division of the conference.

That bears repeating: The Buffs, in over 60 years of conference play in the Big Seven, the Big Eight, and Big 12, never finished alone in last place.

The only other school from those conferences who can make a similar claim is Oklahoma (Nebraska, in 1957, went 1-9, 1-5 in Big Seven play, with records for losing not matched until earlier this season).

Now, there are high school recruits out there today who have only seen Colorado as a national factor once since they were in elementary school. The remainder of their formative years have been spent watching the Buffs lose game after game after game.

That will be Mike MacIntyre’s legacy at Colorado … not the 2016 season.

— Nice guys finish last

The actual quote from Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher was: “The nice guys are all over there, in seventh place”, referring to the 1946 New York Giants, who were in seventh place in July, 1946, when the comment was made.

The quote has been shortened to “nice guys finish last”, and has been universally accepted to mean that teams, coaches and players who are nice guys are not the ones to win championships.

In the context of Mike MacIntyre’s history at Colorado, there is no issue that MacIntyre tended to finish last – see above.

But as to the “nice guy” part, that had just as much a part in his undoing as did the finishing last part.

It’s hard to find a person who has anything bad to say about Mike MacIntyre as a person. He truly cares about his players. About their education, about their future, about their development as athletes.

Mike MacIntyre is also loyal … to a fault.

His loyalty to his longtime assistant coaches may have cost him his job.

Over the past few seasons, MacIntyre brought in some new assistant coaches, coaches who were more energetic, had new ideas … and could recruit.

Other coaches, particularly those along both the offensive and defensive lines, however, remained too long, and it has cost the program. The offensive line the past two seasons has been a disaster, and the defensive line, while it may positive strides in 2018, is still a liability.

Every coach is hired to be fired. That’s the nature of the business.

The Buff Nation had great hopes for Mike MacIntyre in 2012, but the results were just not there.

While the rest of the college football world has forgotten about the University of Colorado football program, we know of its potential.

I’ll leave you with one other historical fact …

— In every decade the University of Colorado has played football – save one – the Buffs have won at least one conference championship. Dating back to the 1890’s, CU has won 26 conference titles, tied for the 10th-most in college football history. Only during the 1950’s, when Bud Wilkinson’s Oklahoma Sooners dominated not only the Big Seven, but the nation, were the Buffs unable to post at least one conference title.

The Buffs came close to posting their first of the 2010’s during the 2016 season, but fell short in the Pac-12 title game. When the Buffs opened the 2018 season with a 5-0 record and a national ranking, the possibility of the Buffs at least making it to the title game was not out of the question. With so many of the Buffs being underclassmen, it seemed that, if the Buffs couldn’t win in 2018, a run in 2019 was a real possibility.

That was so six weeks ago.

Now the Buffs are looking at yet another last place finish in the Pac-12 South. Another season in which there are more disappointments than successes.

Colorado will only have one more chance in the 2010’s to post a conference championship. Perhaps CU’s new coach will light a spark underneath his charges, and the Buffs will find themselves back in the national spotlight.

But … probably not.

Colorado, in the 2019 preseason magazines, will likely be picked to finish last in the Pac-12 South … again.

And that’s Mike MacIntyre’s legacy …



14 Replies to “The Legacy of Mike MacIntyre”

  1. Yup Bohn was the problem. He started it with HWSRN. And yup embo was a large mistake, but then turning right around and hiring wacmac. Hey he had no nads.

    Glad he is doing well where he is. Glad he is gone.

    Cost the Buffs 13 years and you can rationalize all you like about the pay and the highers, but the fact remains, he was weak here at CU. Maybe he learned.

    Go Buffs

  2. I think everything you said was fair. But I will remember his legacy as being a guy that left the program in a much better than how he found it, but just unable of getting us to the promised land, especially when the gates where so close. I told someone that if feels like breaking up with someone you so badly wanted it to work with, but in the end it was just clear the relationship has gone as far as it can go. I have no ill will to him, like I did to Hawkins, but it is just clear we have gone as far as we can with him. I pray he can find a new job that he can succeed in, and am thankful for his hard work here. It was just time to move on. Go Buffs

  3. A part of the issue with the offense the last 2 years is the total disregard for the tight ends. When the safeties and middle linebackers know they don’t have to cover them in pass protection it makes it more difficult for the tailback or fullback to get open out of the back field. I trust our new coach will utilize these weapons in our new offensive scheme.

  4. Thanks for the excellant article. I think that Mac was the right coach when he was hired, but after his time of getting things stabilized, we could all see his limits. I hope things work out for him, just not here. Rick George has said all the right things now it’s time to deliver.

  5. Hey, I get that the scoreboard matters and at the end of the day that is what coaches will be judged on. That said I think you need to add a couple of “intangibles” to your list of his legacy. And I think that these matter for the long term health of the program.

    1. Mike and his staff were very good at spotting the diamonds in the rough. There are tons of three star athletes out there and Mike has consistently shown an ability to spot the three star athletes that can develop into PAC 12 players. When Mike got here I remember thinking how are supposed to compete with the USCs of the world with a bunch of 3 star athletes but Mike and his staff were very gd at finding kids that could. Even in the depths we were at. Look at the rush of players we have sent to the NFL recently and we are a losing program.
    2. Mike and his staff are good at coaching and teaching skill players. Let’s discount coach drake (who I hope we keep) because he wasn’t here long enough but other than our lines we have been able to develop a ton of really good football players. And that takes more than just a good eye for future talent. It takes teaching skills, heart, and knowing how to motivate young men to grow.

    In my mind Mikes biggest fault s his belief that talent wins out. I think throughout his regime we have seen a consistent message about we need talented kids and once we have them we will win. It implies a belief that you can just run talented kids out there on the field and they will just win. I think the great football coaches realize that talent only takes you so far. That coaching has to put your guys in positions where they can succeed. You have to bend your far,eWorld to what the young men can do. You have to run plays that they can execute. Instead of asking a porous o line to do their job better when they can’t you have to alter your game plan to account for it. That has been where I have seen Mac and his staff fail. You heard it again this week which is why I am not expecting a win this week. “We have to get our playmakers the ball”. In some sense yes you do. But in another sense you need to figure out where the defense is week and where you can attack that defense with the talent you have. Maybe that means staring Viska down hard on a turn in route and then throwing to a tight end in the seem. Maybe that is stop asking your line to double pull leaving a trailing linebacker to make a tackle because he is FASTER than the lineman running away from him and just using your tight ends to lead block on the edge. Maybe it is throwing to more than one friggin person because the whole field is rotated to cover Viska. Maybe it is to stop running drag routes at 4 yards when it is third and nine and, or even more creative fake the drag route to Viska or Kd and throw a seem over the top to a tight end or a slant to another wide receiver.

    Sorry….. went on a bit of a rant there.

    That will be Mikes legacy to me. He will have recruited good enough players to play with a power 5 school but his coaching staff has been unable to create game plans to consistently win. He wants his team to just out execute and that is not how football works. I definitely think he has brought the talent here. I remember walking down to meet the guys after fall practice his first year and thinking there is no way these kids play PAC 12 football. Too small. But now I walk down and the young men are big enough and strong enough and talented enough.

    We just need a coach who can get them a game plan that actually works.

    1. Players make plays…………Players win games.

      That is his legacy………………..Take no responsibility………………every

  6. The most poignant statement in this article is this, and thanks Stuart for point it out “Finishing last has become customary for Colorado as a member of the Pac-12, but it is worth noting that has never been the norm before.

    In CU’s entire run as a member of the Big Seven, the Big Eight, and the Big 12, Colorado never finished alone in last place in the conference, or in a division of the conference.

    That bears repeating: The Buffs, in over 60 years of conference play in the Big Seven, the Big Eight, and Big 12, never finished alone in last place.”

  7. Thanks Coach MacIntyre for all of the hard work, emotion, and dedication. “Every coach is hired to be fired” and six years was a long run. I remember where the program was when MacIntyre took over. CU essentially gave itself the death penalty through the ineptitude and lack of leadership of the administration. Yes, MacIntyre had flaws (as Stuart outlines above) that he never seemed to be able to overcome, but he cared and put everything he had into what he was doing. Now is time to move on to a new head coach and staff, and it’s easy to pile on, but Buff fans are remiss if they don’t give MacIntyre credit for what he did accomplish.

  8. Nice write ol Stu. Hope your Thanksgiving was great. Ya, hope all your thanksgivings were great and ya didn’t get an earache because of the high interest, and the payment for the loan on yur 72″ tv.
    “We quit cable” Into the valley……………

    Mikes legacy? Not sure there is one. Not sure I care. Well I do, because of another Bohnhead hire the FootBall Mighty Buffs wasted another 6 years. And if you look at the Bohn years, really look at it…… He pretty much single handed destroyed Colorado Buff Football. His lack of knowledge, insight and foresight (like many fans/poster who railed against constant change, keep the same coaches, continuity is most important, give em one more year, he is a good coach, he will get it done and pull the season out, and he always has an excuse ready at a moments notice…………..Blah Blah Blah………sucker fans eh”………….yur as bad as Bohnhead himself set the stage for 13 years, 16% of your life AZ, for constant weeping and cryhing. I am convinced Bohn was a knebraska mole.

    13 years of Bohn infested coaching led the Mighty Buffs down this path.
    Hawkless, Embo, Wac Mac………….
    40-83 all games (ave……..3 wins per year………32%)
    24-63 conference.(ave…… 1.8 wins per year 27%)
    13 years. 13 years of bad luck.

    Two WAC/MW coaches who were clueless and another who had no chance and probably no clue. That was the Bohnhead himself and at his very best.

    13 years of bad luck? 13 years of a bad AD. Okay bad coaches too. And Bad Fans too.

    There was bitching about Mike cause of his conservative attitude and loyalty to some coaches and SOME players ………….Well plenty of posters also had this attitude…………..and see what ya got…..? Cluelessness runs in packs you can bank on it………you mortgaged the future……….with your debt attitude………..and you are still making payments and the interest rate is high.

    If you can’t see it early…………….you will ride into the valley…………….And die.

    I don’t blame Hawkey
    I don’t blame Embo
    I don’t blame WacMac

    I hold Bohn (who like earache and his crew) had no clue and rode the buffalo into the ground with wishful hoping, uneducated reasons, blind faith, and the teflon attitude. and no understanding that Peter had arrived.

    Go Buffs get the 6th win. There is gonna be a new sherrif in town…………..get it or get out.

    Note: I never ever wanna see again a Buff HC who brings his son in to play for the Buffs. …………….. Blood Family first ………………………….no matter what you may say ABOUT “we are a family.”
    Note 2: Worried about you too Chev.
    Note 3: Over it …………………………………..almost. I am pissed.
    Note 4: 4(300) 24/7/365

    1. Yo VK,

      Blaming Bohn? Are you kidding me?
      Try blaming the true bosses at CU: President Bruce Benson and Chancellor Phil DiStefano.

      Bohn earned $310K a year when the average of his Pac-12 peers was closer to $550K. It was worse when CU was in the Big 12, where the other AD’s were pulling in more than $837K.

      At the time that Hawkins was hired, he was considered the hottest coaching prospect in the country. Bohn went out and got him. Hawk screwed it up big time but that’s not Bohn’s fault.

      Benson and DiStefano made Bohn go out and hire a coach (Embree) that was paid CRAP. Embree was being paid $725K a year when his colleagues in the Pac-12 and Big 12 were earning $2.5 MILLION a year. His assistants were paid equally as bad.

      Bohn hired Tad Boyle for men’s basketball. And back then the Buffs actually made it to the postseason regularly. That’s probably because Bohn worked hard to get the STUDENTS involved. Remember the C-Unit? They were the talk of the country after Colorado won the Pac-12 tournament. You don’t hear much about them anymore.

      Don’t look now, but the Cincinnati Bearcats are 10-2 with Bohn as their AD in football. Over the last four years their basketball team has averaged 29 wins a season under Bohn as AD.

      Colorado gave MacIntyre world class facilities and he was paid 400% more than Embree. And he still lost.

      Thankfully, Rick George has more money to play with for the football program. Rick’s amazing at building big piles of money from donors. Mike Bohn was quite adept at stretching the few dollars that Benson and DiStefano let him have.

      Please Rick George, an amazing hire for the Buffs. (Hint: Jim Leavitt if he’s interested)

      Mark / Boulderdevil / Golden Buffs

      1. Yo Mark. Forgot to add. Bohn is where he belongs………….in the AAC. Wow eh?

        He is friends with Peter there so it’s all okay now. Happy for him.


        Note: Just like HWSRN is successful at his real level.

        1. VK, couldn’t truly understand your medical or alcohol induced rant but you did refer to me I assume as one who was willing to give some of the coaches more time to get their programs established. I do have to agree with Golden Buff that while Bohn maybe was not the greatest AD he did work hard with what I feel was not as good support that RG now has.

          I feel that if you had been as active with advice back in the McCartney years you would never have given him the credit that he eventually earned, as you would have been screaming, yelling and demanding that he be gone before he got it going at CU. You are probably the greatest second guessing Monday Morning QB on the Buff internet, but we still love you and your passion although at many times very much misplaced.

          You probably won’t like who is eventually hired but after hearing your lobbying for Kubiak I do have to say that either the altitude or something else in the air in Boulder is affecting you. I look forward to your comments on the new hire and am anxious to see if we agree or disagree, but don’t worry, as whatever happens I will always refer to you on how to play that damnable windmill hole, even though your “Learning Curve” is old school, and the future of the Buffs is in better hands than you can imagine.

          1. Nah wasn’t referring to you in that vain.
            Bohn was beaten by Peter. Mikemac worked hard too. Not relevant.. I was active with Mac The Great. You just didn’t have access to it. Some did. They know I supported him 150% from the beginning. Why? Cause he was a winner from the start. He had work to do. And he did it. He was a leader when the program needed leading. The last 3 coaches were not.

            The Buffs are in great hands. And you know it.

            Go Buffs.

            Note: The next coach? I already know. You? I’ll prove it to you after it happens.

  9. Nice, balanced article, as always. I try to be balanced in my posts but need some time, maybe sometime next year, before I can more objectively view his legacy. At this point, I am still irritated and view his legacy as the guy who could not get it done when it counted, whether that meant a conference title (0 for 1- routed), a bowl win (0 for 1-routed), snapping a losing streak against USC (winless in all of his seasons), becoming bowl eligible in 2017 and 2018 (0-9), and his woeful record against ranked opponents. Yes, I understand, and will give some credit, that CU had the 10-2 regular season in 2016. IMO, that was as much Leavitt and senior players’ leadership as it was Macintyre’s. And the part that will stick with me the most is not even the poor results but HOW they occurred. The “cautious”, conservative, fear-driven approach to critical games, playing not to lose. Then ending his tenure making excuses, talking about injuries while Utah comes into Folsom with backups and dominates CU at home, and calling the offense inept, the lack of ownership, talking about no pressure being on him. The Beavers loss was the worst come from ahead defeat in CU history (and I have seen multiple decades of it) but there was one good thing about it: without a doubt, shone a light on Macintyre’s inability to perform when he had the easiest chance to demonstrate that he could close the deal when it was basically handed to him. Even then, he could not get it done. Because he built a weak coaching staff, they could not compensate either. Maybe sometime next year, I will have a modified, more balanced take on his legacy but for right now, I am glad that CU is moving on.

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