Colorado football coach Mike MacIntyre watches his team practice earlier this spring. MacIntyre is optimistic that the Buffs will be improved this fall.
Colorado football coach Mike MacIntyre watches his team practice earlier this spring. MacIntyre is optimistic that the Buffs will be improved this fall. (MARK LEFFINGWELL / Daily Camera)

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado football coach Mike MacIntyre says he has no doubt the program he leads is on the way to better days. He said it's only a matter of time before the Buffs begin winning more than they lose once again.

But it's hard to convince those on the outside looking in after some ugly losses in recent seasons and nearly a decade since the last winning season. Even some of the Buffs' most ardent fans these days are in wait-and-see mode.

MacIntyre attended the annual Sports Corp College Football Kickoff luncheon Wednesday along with most of the other head coaches from prominent college programs around the state. Colorado State coach Jim McElwain did not attend because of his wedding anniversary.

MacIntyre was asked why he seems so upbeat and optimistic about a program that hasn't been competitive in the vast majority of Pac-12 Conference games it has played and has only won eight games in the past three seasons combined.

"Well, there is no other way to go," he said. "You can easily be negative. There's no doubt about it. I always look at it as you're persevering. I'm with the kids every day, I'm with our coaches every day, I'm around our program. There is a lot of things to be optimistic about. I feel like our team is improving. I feel like our strength is improving. I feel like our attitude on our team is improving, our academics is improving, our culture is improving, our facilities are improving. So I don't see anything going backwards.


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"I think it's just a matter of time, I really do, if you just keep putting the process in and keep believing and keep pushing and keep going, you can accomplish things. When that happens? I don't know, but I do know we're heading in that direction."

MacIntyre and the Buffs are roughly six weeks away from the start of fall camp and just over two months away from the kickoff of the season opener Aug. 29 against CSU in Denver.

One of the team's primary goals is to win at least six games to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2007, when CU lost the Independence Bowl to Alabama to finish the year 6-7. While few are predicting CU will jump from four wins in 2013 to six or more this season, it does seem within the realm of possibility with CU facing CSU, UMass and Hawaii in nonconference play and getting winnable conference games against Cal, Arizona and Utah.

MacIntyre said he is seeing the same process play out at CU that he oversaw at San Jose State between 2010 and 2012 when he rebuilt that program from among the worst in major college football to a top-25 team at the end of the 2012 season with a bowl victory.

"I don't know if there was a magical moment but I saw us getting better on the field like I see us doing," MacIntyre said comparing the process at SJSU to what is unfolding at CU. "I saw us doing things off the field, I saw us in the classroom, kids showing up to the things they were supposed to with the right attitude consistently. Then all of a sudden I saw us playing better against teams."

MacIntyre said when he arrived at San Jose State, Nevada handled the Spartans easily the first season. The second year, Nevada won in the final minute and SJSU finally beat Nevada in the third year. He said he is hopeful of seeing similar progress with the Buffs this fall in the Pac-12 Conference, but he also said you never really know how your team stacks up until you see it on the field on Saturdays against an opponent.

Since he was hired 18 months ago, MacIntyre has been asked dozens of times about the need to add speed and athleticism to his roster and build a strong team through the strength and conditioning program. MacIntyre said Wednesday that he believes his team is going to look more like its Pac-12 competition this fall than it has in the first three seasons the Buffs have been in the conference.

"It's a process of things building," MacIntyre said. "You set goals and you reach them and the goal gets a little higher and you reach that. I think it's all about building confidence within the kids. They start believing and making plays in critical situations and they've been there and done that and we've coached it enough times. They've heard us talk it and talk it and do it and do it and then it happens. It's kind of like building good habits."