After a turbulent offseason and with some uncertainty still hanging over the Colorado football program, Buffaloes head coach Mike MacIntyre was more than happy to experience some normalcy on Wednesday.
While the calendar says it is winter, the Buffs opened spring practice on a picturesque day in Boulder.
"It's always nice to get on the field, period," MacIntyre said. "You're on the road, speaking (during the offseason) and you're not around the kids as much as you would like. Getting out there with them, the energy of youth energizes you. It's exciting meeting with them, watching them run around, watching them push and seeing how they keep maturing."
Coming off a turnaround season in which they went 10-4, won the Pac-12 South title and ended a nine-year bowl drought, the Buffs returned to the field for the first time since a 38-8 loss to Oklahoma State in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Antonio.
A lot has happened since then, most notably the departure of safeties coach Joe Tumpkin, who was asked to resign on Jan. 27 and then charged four days later with five felony counts of second-degree assault in relation to allegations that he physically abused his ex-girlfriend.
The public first learned of the Tumpkin situation on Jan. 6, but MacIntyre and the Buffs first learned of it on Dec. 9, when Tumpkin's ex-girlfriend called MacIntyre.
While Tumpkin is no longer employed at CU, there have been questions about how MacIntyre, athletic director Rick George and chancellor Phil DiStefano handled the situation.
George and DiStefano have both admitted that they made mistakes, particularly by not reporting the allegations to CU's office of institutional equity and compliance. DiStefano has also stated that CU will be making efforts to improve its "educational efforts and processes" going forward in these types of situations.
Nevertheless, last week the university hired two lawyers to investigate how CU handled the allegations from Tumpkin's ex-girlfriend. That investigation is currently underway and could be wrapped up by next week.
Because of the investigation, MacIntyre's three-year contract extension is in limbo. MacIntyre agreed to the new deal in mid-January, but, like all contracts at CU, it could not be finalized until a vote by CU regents. That vote was supposed to take place last Friday, but was postponed by DiStefano until after the investigation has been completed.
Asked Wednesday if his contract situation has been a distraction, MacIntyre said, "No, not really."
He then added, "I'm not going to comment on all of that stuff."
Given the ongoing investigation, it's no surprise that MacIntyre did not comment on the situation. For now, he's focused on football, and said it was good to see his players running and flying around the field again.
"You can tell our program is at a point we just keep moving forward," he said. "It was different not seeing Chido (Awuzie) and not seeing Sefo (Liufau) and all those guys out there for me personally, but we have a lot of guys stepping up, and we have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football. I'm excited about where we're headed, so I enjoyed today."
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.