Can Mike MacIntyre Turn Around Colorado?

By David LaRose
Kyle Terada- USA TODAY Sports

Colorado thought they had their next football coach last week when Butch Jones reportedly accepted the job. However, Jones eventually backed out of the deal and became the next head coach at Tennessee instead leaving Colorado to rely on Plan B.

Plan B for Colorado turned out to be San Jose State head coach Mike MacIntyre as it was announced this morning that he would become the 25th head coach in Colorado history. Details on his contract have not been released as of this morning, but it’s likely that Mac’s contract will not be as lucrative as the five-year, $13.5 million deal offered to Jones.

Unlike Jones, MacIntyre has experience building teams and turning struggling programs around. After spending two seasons at Duke as their defensive coordinator he took over as head coach at San Jose State in 2009. The Spartans went just 1-11 in his first season, 5-7 in year two but this past season they finished with an impressive 10-2 mark, with their only two losses coming against Pac 12 champion Stanford and 20th ranked Utah State.

MacIntrye led an impressive turnaround of San Jose State, but now the question is can he do the same for Colorado?

It’s difficult to compare turning around a program like San Jose State’s to the situation at Colorado, but what he did for the Spartans can’t be argued against. After taking over a 2-10 team, he struggled in his first season; but just two years later, he has them playing in the Military Bowl – and it all started with an emphasis on recruiting.

When he took over the Spartans, one of the things he did was have either him or one of his assistants meet and personally shake hands with every high school football coach in the state of California. His goal was to put San Jose State on the radar of the coaches in order to encourage them to send along any player they had that had college potential. They also set up football clinics to get a better look at the players, and it was a way to evaluate them in person all at the same time.

The increased emphasis on recruiting the state of California paid off and translated to a competitive product on the field in 2011. His 2012 recruiting class was rated as the top group in the WAC, and it led to a No. 24 ranking in the final AP poll this season. Now with Colorado, MacIntyre can continue to recruit the state like he did with the Spartans but he’s now selling a Pac 12 product. His relationships with the high school coaches in California will do nothing but help Colorado recruit the state even better than they have been since their move to the new conference.

Colorado needs all the help they can get, as they were one of the worst D-1 football teams in the country last year. Their 1-11 season was a product of a young, inexperienced roster, poor coaching and a lack of talent to compete in the Pac 12. Colorado was unable to win a home game for the first time in school history, and it eventually led to the firing of second-year head coach Jon Embree, who went just 4-21 during his time in Boulder.

Will MacIntyre’s success translate into success for Colorado? It’s tough to say, but I think the Buffs hired the right guy that has experience turning around struggling programs and has plenty of recruiting ties in California. He’ll have to bring in more players that are suited to style of coaching but he already has a good quarterback, Shane Dillon, that would fit his pass-happy offensive style, one that finished in the top 10 in the country in 2012.

Only time will tell if the second “Coach Mac” in Boulder can duplicate the success that the first Coach Mac had in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Colorado has a long way to go to get back to that type of success, but they found the right guy to put them on the right track.

David LaRose is one of the featured College Football writers for Rant Sports covering the Pac 12 and the University of Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page.

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