SALT LAKE CITY — Mike MacIntyre wasn’t ready to make any quick decisions on Saturday night.
Rest assured, however, that Colorado’s head football coach has a busy few weeks ahead of him as he tries to figure out how the 2017 season went sour and how to get his program back on track in 2018.
A season that was one disappointment after another concluded Saturday with an embarrassing 34-13 loss to Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
One year after going from worst to first in the Pac-12 South, the Buffs (5-7, 2-7 Pac-12) went first to worst, reclaiming a spot that’s become all too familiar. It’s the fourth last-place finish in MacIntyre’s five seasons in Boulder.
“I’d have to go back and look at all the film and look at the whole season, every phase, look at different situations, different things that players did, coaches did, I did and figure it out,” he said. “Usually you’re never as good as everybody thinks you are and you’re never as bad as everybody thinks you are. You’re somewhere in between and I’ve got to find that area there and work on it in the offseason and spring and fall camp and come back and attack it.”
Before attacking the 2018 season, the Buffs have plenty of work ahead in the next month, including potential changes to the coaching staff.
Beginning Jan. 9, all Football Bowl Subdivision teams can add a 10th assistant coach, but that may not be the only change at CU.
“I’ll look at it over the next couple of weeks and a little bit over Christmas time now that we don’t have a bowl and evaluate everything and make decisions from there,” said MacIntyre, who is 5-9 in his last 14 games and 25-38 during his tenure at CU.
MacIntyre might need to make a tough personal decision about co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren.
MacIntyre hired Lindgren as his offensive coordinator at San Jose State in 2012 and then brought him to Boulder in the same capacity in 2013. Lindgren was the sole offensive coordinator for three years until co-coordinator Darrin Chiaverini was added a year ago.
This year, the Buffs finished 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring (26.4 points per game). They sputtered early in the year against a weak non-conference schedule and got shut out by Washington State on Oct. 21. In the last two games of the season, the Buffs were outscored 48-0 in the first half.
This was the third time in Lindgren’s five seasons in Boulder that the Buffs finished 11th in the conference in scoring. They were 10th in another season and have never finished in the top half of the conference.
MacIntyre will have to look at the rest of his staff, as well, and he’ll have to look in the mirror. While he’s not likely to go anywhere, with four years left on his contract, he’s ultimately responsible for slipping back to the bottom of the Pac-12 South.
A year ago, MacIntyre led the Buffs to a 10-4 season and was the national coach of the year by several organizations, including the Associated Press. Since the inception of the AP award in 1998, MacIntyre is the first winner to post a losing record the next year. The previous 18 winners won at least eight games and went to a bowl game the next season.
This year, the Buffs went 1-7 against bowl-eligible teams and the five teams they beat have a combined 18-40 record.
While trying to make tough decisions with his staff, MacIntyre also has to put the finishing touches on the latest recruiting class. For the first time, there is an early signing period, rapidly approaching on Dec. 20, and the Buffs may need to do quite a bit of work to keep their verbal commitments on board.
“There will probably be some surprises; there always is,” Chiaverini, who is also the recruiting coordinator, said last week. “That’s the nature of the beast. Everybody goes through it. We’re going to try to hold onto as many as we can and get them signed and I really like this class.”
How the recruiting class and the coaching staff look at the end could be different than they look now. But, ultimately, the Buffs hope 2018 looks a lot different than 2017.