Mike MacIntyre, new CU Buffs coach: Fresh new face or second coming of Dan Hawkins?
Well, we've had a couple of days to absorb the naming of Mike MacIntyre, formerly with San Jose State, as the CU Buffs' head football coach. But frankly, we still have no idea whether the move has a reasonable chance of success -- and neither does anyone else. After all, the 2010 hiring of Jon Embree filled us with optimism that eventually curdled into tears of frustration. Plus, there's the similarity between MacIntyre's background and that of Embree's predecessor, mega-disaster Dan Hawkins.
Granted, CU athletic director Mike Bohn handled his pursuit of MacIntyre well in the wake of the Butch Jones disaster. Rather than repeating previous mistakes -- publicly romancing the sought-after Cincinnati coach, then allowing an inaccurate report that he'd taken a job he'd soon reject to shower them with embarrassment -- he and his fellow officials kept their lips zipped until MacIntyre committed for real.
Moreover, MacIntyre's recent track record certainly suggests he's got the skill set for the task at hand. He took over a San Jose State team that went 2-9 in 2009, and after one even worse season (the Spartans posted a 1-11 record in his debut year), the squad steadily improved, going from 5-7 in the second campaign to 10-2 in 2012, with a number 24 national ranking and a berth in the Military Bowl.
Had the Buffs shown similar sparks under Embree in his second season, he'd still be the coach, rather than getting ousted in an ugly manner that prompted claims of racism from ex-coach Bill McCartney.
Of course, naysayers suggest that San Jose's renaissance was due in part to a number of the strongest teams in the Western Athletic Conference (including Fresno State, which destroyed CU this year) leaving the conference. But the Spartans' record remains impressive, especially considering that one of the losses was by just three points to mighty Standard (which also dismantled the Buffs this season -- but then again, almost everyone did).
Hawkins didn't have to execute a similar turnaround at Boise State, where he served as head coach prior to being chosen by CU. In fact, his first season as at the helm there, in 2001, was actually a little bit worse (8-4) than in 2000 (10-2), when he'd been the offensive coordinator under Dirk Koetter, who left to take over Arizona State. But Hawkins followed that up with seasons of 12-1, 13-1, 11-1 and 9-4 before coming to Colorado -- where the most wins he managed in a single season was six in five tries.
Otherwise, the reasons Hawkins came to CU have a lot in common with MacIntyre's -- making the leap from a second-rung conference to a top-tier one, with the attendant boost in prestige and pay. But translating success in the WAC -- Boise State's home when Hawkins was there -- to the Big 12 or the Pac 12 ain't easy, as Hawk learned from bitter personal experience.
Personality-wise, MacIntyre seems to have a lot in common with Hawkins, too -- especially when it comes to their fiery demeanor. While we've been unable to find any recordings of MacIntyre to rival Hawk's famous rant about intermurals, he was disciplined by the WAC last season for coming onto the field to argue the spot of the ball during the closing minutes of a 17-14 loss to Nevada (another escapee from the conference). In a press release, San Jose State's athletic director said, "Mike MacIntyre's actions on the field in the final moments of our game last Saturday were unacceptable. Regardless of the circumstances connected with the game, it is paramount that our coaches and players exhibit the highest possible forms of sportsmanship."
MacIntyre's mea culpa? "I realize my actions at the end of our game with Nevada last Saturday were unsportsmanlike. Clearly, what happened was outside the scope of what I want for the San Jose State football program, the athletics department, the university and our fans. I want to offer this public apology and vow that nothing like this will happen again."
CU fans would probably forgive such behavior if it led to a few more Ws.
Thus far, MacIntyre has avoided major missteps in Colorado. Even if he engaged in familiar coach-speak during his introductory press conference this week (for instance, he said he preferred the word "perseverance" to "patience"), he sounded confident and driven -- two characteristics the Buffs could use right now. What they don't need, though, is Dan Hawkins II. Let's hope Bohn hired someone entirely different -- because if he didn't, the AD will join MacIntyre on the road out of town a few years from now.
Here's the aforementioned press conference, courtesy of CUBuffs.com.
More from our Sports archive: "Dan Hawkins fired: Top 5 lessons the Broncos (and Josh McDaniels) can learn from CU sacking."
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