Heading into his sixth season as the head football coach at Colorado, Mike MacIntyre continues climbing the ladder in Pac-12 seniority.

In fact, MacIntyre, hired at CU before the 2013 season, is now the fourth-longest tenured coach in the Pac-12, behind Utah's Kyle Whittingham (2005), Stanford's David Shaw (2011) and Washington State's Mike Leach (2012).

This year, the Pac-12 will feature five new head coaches, at Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA.

CU plays four of those teams, presenting a bit of a challenge for the Buffs and others as they prepare for this season. It's not a challenge that MacIntyre and other coaches view as too daunting, however.

"It depends on when you play them," MacIntyre said during a Pac-12 coaches teleconference this week. "If you're playing them four, five or six games into the season, it's not as challenging."

Including a Week 2 nonconference matchup at Nebraska, the Buffs will play three new head coaches in the first five games of the season.

"You go back and look at their old history with teams they've coached and things they did and usually some of that stuff carries over," MacIntyre said.

USC head coach Clay Helton said it certainly helps to have a couple games of film before facing a first-year head coach, but, like MacIntyre, said the key is preparing for the coordinators.


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"You really have to do a great job of studying the coordinators that they've hired and what systems they're bringing with them," Helton said.

One of those new coaches is Arizona's Kevin Sumlin, who is in his first year with the Wildcats, but his 11th year as a head coach. He said the challenge is equal for the new and returning coaches, because they have to get used to each other.

Studying film will help, Sumlin said, but the true education of the league comes on the field.

Chip Kelly returns to college coaching with UCLA after spending 2013-16 in the NFL.
Chip Kelly returns to college coaching with UCLA after spending 2013-16 in the NFL. (John Leyba / The Denver Post)

"The difficult part is that video and film can only tell you so much," he said. "It's really on the field that you start to feel what the league is like and that won't happen until we actually go out and play."

Whittingham has seen plenty of changes through the years, and he doesn't view the turnover this offseason as that big of a deal.

"There's a bunch of good coaches in the Pac-12 and I think it's just going to be business as usual," he said. "I think it just makes an already strong group of coaches even stronger."

More from MacIntyre

MacIntyre addressed several topics, including the Buffs' situation at running back.

CU lost senior star Phillip Lindsay, who carried the bulk of the load in the run game. The Buffs will have transfer Travon McMillian, redshirt freshman Alex Fontenot and junior Beau Bisharat, among others, and MacIntyre said he's open to more of a committee approach this year.

"If we feel like we have enough guys that we feel like we can rely on, we'll do that," he said. "If we feel like it's just one or two guys, we'll do that. But, if we've got a hot guy running, I'm going to run that hot guy as much as I can. That's worked for us in the past. It's going to depend on how fall camp goes, to be honest with you."

MacIntyre also said a main goal for his team is to be more physical and learn how to finish games. Both were points of emphasis in the spring.

"We didn't finish some games like we like last year and we tried to put them in a lot of those situations over and over, more than you usually would in the spring," he said.

Utes' continuity

Utah has had six different offensive coordinators in its first seven years in the Pac-12 and has gone through plenty of assistants under Whittingham. The Utes, however, are the only team in the Pac-12 that returns its entire group of nine assistants from last year.

"That's a big positive for us," Whittingham said. "It's always great to have continuity on your staff. We're all pulling in the same direction and I think we're in pretty good shape in that regard."

Of course, Utah and every other team added a 10th assistant coach this offseason. The Utes added former Wisconsin and Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen.

"When Gary became available and expressed interest, it was a very easy process and I didn't look further than him," Whittingham said. "We haven't missed a beat; he's been a great addition."

Tate's progress

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate took the college football world by storm last year, beginning in Boulder, when he came off the bench to lead the Wildcats to a 45-42 victory.

Sumlin, no stranger to dual-threat quarterbacks, said the sophomore can only get better.

"The guy has only started eight games, so he'd be the first to tell you there's room for improvement," Sumlin said. "He's got huge potential. There's some things that we can help him with. We've had our own talks just about leadership and all the things that come along with it. He's got a big upside and he needs to continue to grow."

Notable

Sumlin said Arizona is "exploring options" with graduate transfers this offseason, particularly at offensive line. ... Back on the sidelines after a year off, new UCLA head coach Chip Kelly said, "It's been fun. The day to day, that's what you miss." Kelly is back in the college game after spending 2013-16 in the NFL.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33