When Mike MacIntyre takes the Colorado football team to San Antonio later this week, he has no doubt the Buffaloes will see the passion for the game that is alive in Texas.
"Football is big there," said MacIntyre, the CU head coach who spent four seasons working as an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys.
On Dec. 29, the Buffs (10-3, No. 10 College Football Playoff, No. 11 Associated Press) will take on Oklahoma State (9-3, No. 12 CFP, No. 13 AP) in the Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome.
It'll bring back some memories for MacIntyre, as he spent time in San Antonio with the NFL's Cowboys during training camp in 2003.
"The hospitality was awesome," he said.
MacIntyre remembers a lot of long work days in San Antonio. He also remembers the Cowboys and Houston Texans holding a scrimmage in Alamodome.
"Not in a preseason game, but in a scrimmage," he said. "The Alamodome holds 68,000, and there was 68,000 people at the scrimmage. Just for a scrimmage. Football is important in Texas, there's no doubt about it."
During his time with the Cowboys (2003-06), MacIntyre and his family lived in Southlake, which was home to Southlake Carroll High School — one of the top prep programs in the country. He and the family went to a Southlake Carroll game one Friday night, and he was blown away by the fact that 17,000 fans filled the stands.
"That's the way it is," he said.
MacIntyre is hoping some of that passion will show up at the Alamo Bowl.
Good news for CU is that a lot of Buff fans are expected to be on hand. Roughly 6,500 CU fans have purchased tickets for the game to this point.
"It's awesome," he said. "If we keep it going, the way it looks to me, we'll have the most the Pac-12 has ever had in the game. That's exciting. I hope more and more Buff fans keep getting excited and get down there. It means a lot to our players and I know it means a lot to Buff Nation."
Maka plans to stay
Prior to arrival at CU this past summer, true freshman linebacker Pookie Maka said he planned to play one semester for the Buffs before leaving for two years on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
With his true freshman season nearly completed, Maka said he plans to stay at CU.
"I plan on just staying and focusing on the game right now," he said. "I had a long talk with my parents about it, too. I just decided it was better for me to just stay here and focus on football."
Maka, a 6-foot-3 outside linebacker, said the success he had this season while redshirting played a role in his decision to stay.
"I feel that it exceeded all my expectations," he said. "I didn't think I was going to do as well as I thought I did. I had a lot of improving to do and they helped me with that. For that I'm really grateful. I got stronger and faster and gained more weight, which I wanted."
Maka said he learned a whole new level of training and weight lifting than he ever knew before.
"Knowing the game as well as I do now, it's because of the coaches that are teaching me," he said.
Maka is expected to compete with NJ Falo, Derek McCartney and others for playing time next year.
"Knowing Derek and NJ personally now, it's not really like we're competing against each other," Maka said. "They're like bigger brothers to me, so they help me out."
MacIntyre said left guard Gerrad Kough, who missed the last three games with an ankle injury, has "been practicing and doing well." Kough appears to be on track to play in the Alamo Bowl. ... For the past couple of years, MacIntyre has promised former players who graduate that he would pay their to a CU bowl game. He said that so far the response from those players has been good. "I think quite a few of them are going to be down there," he said.