Brian Howell
Brian Howell

When he sat in front of the media last Saturday night, following a 44-20 loss to Arizona, and put his frustration on full display, Colorado head football coach Mike MacIntyre made it very clear that he is a competitive guy who doesn't like losing.

At the same time, MacIntyre knows -- and everyone else should know -- that he was not brought here to win in 2013. MacIntyre signed a five-year, $10 million contract in December and was charged with rebuilding a football program that had sunk to the depths of the Football Bowl Subdivision, going 1-11 a year ago.

As much as they would love to win every time they step on the field, nobody at CU -- including athletic director Rick George, chancellor Philip DiStefano and president Bruce Benson -- expected a miracle turnaround. Neither did former AD Mike Bohn, who hired MacIntyre.

What they all expect is for MacIntyre to eventually get this thing on track. The only way to do that is to start at the ground level.

"You have to build a foundation," MacIntyre said in December. "Once you have that foundation built, it keeps continually growing."

On Saturday, the Buffs (3-4, 0-4 Pac-12) visit No. 17 UCLA (5-2, 2-2). It's a game that figures to look like a lot of other Pac-12 games for CU, with UCLA pulling away for a relatively easy win.

Right now, however, the final results should not be the focal point of this team. CU is building a solid foundation, and the Buffaloes will be better in the long run for it.

"We will keep fighting and eventually it will go our way," junior safety Jered Bell said.


In building a solid foundation, MacIntyre has washed away the hopelessness that stained this program last year. Fans aren't lining up to get back into the stadium yet, but the Buffs have more energy, desire and fight in them than they have had in the past several years.

"We are keeping our heads up and our spirits high," Bell said. "We know what we have to do and we know to keep focusing on the task at hand.

"I am doing well on the field. I have great teammates. The coaching staff is amazing, so I am enjoying every bit of it."

A good group of leaders is helping, too. At the start of the year, quarterback Connor Wood and linebackers Paul Vigo and Derrick Webb were all listed as starters and all were named team captains. Since then, they have all lost their starting roles, yet each one talks about the importance of the team, as opposed to the importance of their own personal successes.

In a recent team meeting, MacIntyre had all three stand up as he told the team, "Their roles have changed and but they have the same attitude, and the same work ethic."

The foundation is being set by a very talented group of freshmen. Tailback Michael Adkins, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, linebacker Addison Gillam and kick return Ryan Severson have all made an impact.

The leader of the group, though, is Wood's replacement, true freshman Sefo Liufau. He's not a polished player, by any means. He's inaccurate on too many passes and he hasn't blown anybody away with video game stats.

Yet, Liufau has proven he has the maturity and poise to handle adversity and be a leader for the Buffaloes for years to come. And, he's gotten better each week.

"I think I demand more perfection of myself, which obviously perfection is not attainable, but you always want to strive to do your best," he said. "I think that I have more confidence now in making plays and making throws than I did in the beginning of the season."

The same could be said for several other players on this team. Since they arrived, MacIntyre and his staff made a point of teaching their players the fundamentals, and finding ways to help each player improve his game. That's part of laying the foundation, too.

MacIntyre, the players and the fans all want more wins. There's no question about that. MacIntyre's lack of patience was evident last Saturday.

"You can ask my wife and she'll tell you that I'm probably not that patient," MacIntyre said.

Maybe not, but he is determined to do what he was hired to do and lead this team back. The way MacIntyre and his staff are going, it may not be too long before the Buffaloes start tasting more success on Saturdays.

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