Sitting in front of the largest gathering of media this season for a Colorado football press conference, and knowing exactly what questions were coming his way, Buffaloes head coach Mike MacIntyre displayed a visual aid on Tuesday.
MacIntyre showed a painting, which normally hangs in his office, of a snow-covered buffalo walking head-first into a storm.
"The buffalo is the only animal that walks into the storm," MacIntyre said. "All the rest of them try to run away from the storm. If you walk into the storm, you're going to get through it faster, and they walk in it together."
The head Buffalo is facing perhaps his toughest storm as a head coach.
CU (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) is riding a five-game losing streak as it prepares to host Utah (7-3, 5-3) on Saturday, and a Channel 7 report, which cited anonymous sources, surfaced late Monday night that MacIntyre and the school will part ways at the end of the season.
That report prompted the large media gathering. Athletic director Rick George told BuffZone.com that the report was not true, and issued a statement through CU.
"We do not comment on speculation or unsubstantiated rumors with anonymous sources," George said. "Let me just say I have made no decisions regarding the future of the football program. As I've stated in the past, we continually evaluate all aspects of all of our 17 intercollegiate sport programs."
MacIntyre learned of the report when his son, Jonston, who is a freshman football player at Chapman (Calif.) University called him around midnight on Monday. He told Jonston to not worry.
"I met with Rick George two weeks ago and he gave 100 percent support," said MacIntyre, who is 30-43 in six seasons with the Buffs. "He came in and saw me, talked to me and said he's completely behind me, committed to it and to keep going. I've seen him multiple times since then and he's never said a word to me about anything to this affect."
MacIntyre was forced to address the issue with his team prior to Tuesday morning's practice — certainly not a topic he wanted to discuss on senior week.
"It's a shame you have to have those types of things come up," he said. "They can say anything they want to say, but for an anonymous story to come out with no quoted source is kind of gutless the way I see it. But, that's the world we live in, too, and I understand that."
MacIntyre then turned it into a positive, adding, "I also think it was good because it was a great point with our team this morning. Sad to say, the world they live in, that's going to get worse and worse and worse. They've got to be able to handle it and walk through it and be able to keep functioning. Hopefully they see me doing it, our staff doing it and they feed off of it."
Hired Dec. 10, 2012, MacIntyre took over a program that was arguably the worst in the country among Power 5 conference teams, having gone 4-21 in two seasons under Jon Embree. He came to Boulder after rebuilding the San Jose State program in just three years.
During his first three seasons with the Buffs, MacIntyre went 10-27, but showed steady progress. Finally, in 2016, the Buffs broke through, going 10-4 and winning the Pac-12 South division. They vaulted to No. 9 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll late in the season before finishing at No. 17.
MacIntyre earned several national coach of the year honors in 2016, including the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award — the same honor his father, George MacIntyre, received in 1982 while at Vanderbilt.
The 2016 season ended on a sour note, however, as CU was routed by Washington, 41-10, in the Pac-12 title game, and then by Oklahoma State, 38-8, in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Despite the disappointing finish, CU ended a nine-year bowl drought that season.
"I do know this: when I came here a few years ago, this was the worst power football program, a laughingstock of college football," he said. "When I went to San Jose, it was the worst program in Division I, period. We turned that around and came here.
"The gold helmet is not tarnished anymore. If you look at what our kids have done off the field in the last year and a half since I got my (players) in here, we're not going to be on the front of Sports Illustrated, we're going to do the right things. We're going to be a heck of a football program. We have great young players."
Nevertheless, it has been a bumpy road for MacIntyre and the Buffs since 2016.
Shortly after the Pac-12 title game loss to Washington, on Dec. 9, 2016, Pamela Fine, who was at the time the girlfriend of then-assistant coach Joe Tumpkin, reported to MacIntyre that she had been violently abused for the previous two years by Tumpkin.
MacIntyre informed George of the allegations, and then George informed chancellor Phil DiStefano. Despite that, Tumpkin, who was the safeties coach, was given defensive play-calling duties for the Alamo Bowl because defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt had left the Buffs for a similar job at Oregon.
In the weeks after the Alamo Bowl, Tumpkin was suspended and then eventually fired. In the spring of 2017, however, CU commissioned an outside agency to investigate how MacIntyre, George and DiStefano handled the allegations. Ultimately, CU president Bruce Benson and CU's Board of Regents gave DiStefano a 10-day suspension and ordered George and MacIntyre each to pay $100,000 in fines to a domestic violence organization.
MacIntyre had agreed to a contract extension in January of 2017, but that was put on hold because of the investigation. The Board of Regents eventually approved the deal in June of 2017.
In September 2017, Fine filed a lawsuit against MacIntyre, George, DiStefano and Benson, but that lawsuit was dismissed this past July.
With the cloud of the Tumpkin situation hanging over the program, the Buffs got off to a 3-0 start in 2017, but went 2-7 the rest of the way to finish 5-7 and miss out on the postseason for the ninth time in 10 years.
This year, the Buffs got off to their first 5-0 start since 1998 and vaulted to No. 19 in the AP poll. They've gone 0-5 since, however.
CU's current losing streak included a 41-34 overtime loss to last-place Oregon State on Oct. 27. The Buffs led 31-3 in the second half before Oregon State finished the game on a 38-3 run. The 28-point collapse matched the biggest in CU history, and was the largest ever at Folsom Field.
The Buffs are also on the verge of one of the worst single-season collapses in recent college football history. Since 1997, only one Power 5 conference team (Kansas, in 2009) has started 5-0 and finished 5-7.
Despite the recent lackluster results, including an 0-8 record in the past two seasons when playing for bowl eligibility, MacIntyre said Tuesday, "No, I don't think my job is in jeopardy, but you have to win games. We've made this place better, there's no doubt about it. But, success is measured in wins and losses, too."
If the wins don't come in the next two weeks, the end could very well be near for MacIntyre, despite the fact he has three years and roughly $9,975,000 remaining on his contract after this season.
Rather than worry, MacIntyre said he clings to his faith.
"One of the things I take to heart all the time is you have peace of heart and joy from who you are and who I worship, my lord and savior Jesus Christ," he said. "That's where my peace and joy comes from; not my circumstances.
"This football team, I love this football team. I like these guys, I like our coaching staff. We just have to find a way to win a football game. You win a football game, a lot of noise goes away."
Until the Buffs win, however, the noise will continue and MacIntyre will keep walking head-first into the storm.