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  • CU head coach Mike MacIntyre has three years and nearly...

    Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera

    CU head coach Mike MacIntyre has three years and nearly $10 million left on his contract after this season.

  • CU receiver Laviska Shenault returned to the lineup on Saturday...

    Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera

    CU receiver Laviska Shenault returned to the lineup on Saturday and had 120 yards in total offense, but also a fumble.



As the Colorado losing streak continues, the support for head football coach Mike MacIntyre keeps dwindling.

I’ve heard from fans that are all in on the “fire MacIntyre” bandwagon. And, I’m hearing from a lot of fans who tell me, “I like MacIntyre, but I think it’s time.”

I have yet to hear from a fan who tells me they believe MacIntyre deserves another season. But, there are those who look at the nearly $10 million still on MacIntyre’s contract and are convinced CU doesn’t have the financial option to make a move – even if it wants to and even if it makes sense.

So, with the writing seemingly on the wall, let’s take a look at the options and how that $10 million (actually, it’s about $9,975,000) comes into play.

First off, for those worried about that nearly $10 million figure, that’s the wrong number on which to focus. The important number is 3 – as in three years left on the deal.

The length of the deal is important, because there’s also a paragraph in MacIntyre’s contract that includes an automatic one-year extension – unless CU or MacIntyre provides written notice to the other by Dec. 31 that they don’t want the extension. Last year, CU gave MacIntyre notice that they weren’t going to extend the deal, which is why there’s only three years left after this season.

With that in mind, CU essentially has three options:

1. Keep MacIntyre and allow the automatic extension to kick-in, taking the deal through the 2022 season. After two consecutive disappointing seasons – and given the general mood of fans these days – that hardly seems like a good option for CU. It would be a very tough sell to the public – even if the Buffs win another game or two and get to a bowl.

2. Keep MacIntyre, but inform him once again that there won’t be an extension. By doing that, CU could take its chances that 2019 will be better, and if it’s not, fire MacIntyre a year from now with a smaller buyout number (about $6,725,000 next year in that case). However, nixing the extension is a clear message from CU administration that it’s not totally behind its coach, and that it’s looking to save money a year from now. That won’t go over well with MacIntyre, who would essentially coach 2019 in a lame duck situation. And, it won’t go over well with fans, who would basically be asked to sit through another year of mediocrity. That’s not good for MacIntyre, for the players, for the fans or for the future of recruiting.

3. Fire MacIntyre at the end of the season, knowing that it could cost around $9,975,000 to make that move. It’s a big number, but not due as a lump sum right away. CU would make monthly payments over the course of the next three years. Also, it’s written into MacIntyre’s contract that he has “a duty to obtain new employment to mitigate” the cost of the buyout. Any money MacIntyre would make as a college head coach or NFL head or assistant coach would reduce what CU owes him. Given his relatively young age (53) and the fact that he has turned two programs around in the past decade, MacIntyre figures to be an attractive option for some schools. Ultimately, the cost for CU could be several million dollars less than the $9.975 million.

The way this season is going, option No. 1 is highly unlikely, and option No. 2 would create an awkward situation not unlike the 2010 season, when CU kept Dan Hawkins around for an extra season.

Hawkins had three seasons left on his contract going into 2010, but it was pretty obvious it was a make-or-break year for him. He knew it, the players knew it, and recruits knew it. CU returned a lot of talent in 2010, but fans don’t need to be reminded how that season turned out. MacIntyre would be in the same situation – including a lot of talent coming back – in 2019 if CU were to pick option 2.

That all makes option 3 increasingly more likely each week. Yeah, it may cost a few million dollars, but for the long-term good of the football program and the athletic department, it just might be the best option for CU.

A few thoughts from the weekend:

1. I still believe there’s enough talent and fight in the players to get another win and secure bowl eligibility. Despite the five-game losing streak, I think this is a team that’s still engaged and wanting to win. Can they get it done? I don’t know, but I don’t see them folding. Not this week anyway.

2. Even with the fight in this team, they’ve got a really tough task ahead of them over the next two weeks. Offensively, the Buffs just can’t block anybody. That’s preventing them from running the ball with any consistency, and it’s forcing quarterback Steven Montez to run for his life half the time he drops back to pass. The bad news is that the next two opponents – Utah and California – are even better defensively than Washington State.

3. Should the Buffs win another game or two and get to a bowl game, MacIntyre would get a $200,000 bonus. There’s an additional $50,000 coming his way if the Buffs get to seven wins in the regular season – which would mean winning the last two games.

4. I really dislike how officials are calling targeting, and I don’t say that only because Nate Landman got ejected and it hurt the team I cover. I’ve seen some really ridiculous calls – and non-calls – across college football all season. It’s wildly inconsistent and a judgment call every time. How can they justify an automatic ejection on a judgment call that’s so inconsistent? I agree with what MacIntyre has often said in the past – it’s a good rule to keep players safe. I’m fully on board with trying to make the game safer. However, there has to be a different way to punish those hits. By the letter of the law, Landman should have been ejected, but personally, I think he made a good football play that didn’t even warrant a flag. There has to be a revamping of targeting. Perhaps a situation where players are given a warning (or even a 15-yard penalty) after the first one and an ejection after the second. I just don’t like the automatic ejection for something that is so inconsistent.

The week’s best Buffs

1. BUFF Davion Taylor: He’s been one of the best players on defense all year, and finished with a game-high 11 tackles, including one for loss.

2. WR Laviska Shenault: Although he had a couple of drops and a fumble, Shenault made his return to the lineup and caught 10 passes for 102 yards.

3. S Aaron Maddox: Playing a significant role because of injuries, he had seven tackles, including one for loss. His taunting penalty was disappointing, but that ultimately didn’t cost CU.

4. LB Drew Lewis: Overall, he played a solid game, and did a nice job adjusting after moving inside following Landman’s ejection. Lewis finished with nine tackles and had a nice pass breakup.

5. RB Travon McMillian: He really only had one good run – a 64-yarder to set up his 3-yard touchdown run – but he provided the only spark offensively for this team.

Stat of the week

By now, Buffs fans are all aware that CU is 0-8 in last two seasons when playing for bowl eligibility. That’s bad, of course, but I was curious just how bad, so naturally I had to do some research. Here’s a few numbers:

1. No team in the country has played for bowl eligibility more often than CU in the past two seasons. The closest is Texas A&M, with six tries, but the Aggies are 2-4 in those games.

2. The nation’s longest current losing streaks with bowl eligibility on the line:
8 – Colorado
7 – Kansas (all in 2009; Jayhawks haven’t played for a bowl since then)
3 – Texas Tech

3. Only four other teams in the country have tried for bowl eligibility multiple times without success in the last two seasons: Maryland, Minnesota, Louisiana and Coastal Carolina are all 0-2 in those situations.

Pac-12 players of the week

Offense: Colby Parkinson, Stanford – You don’t often see a tight end have a day like he had, with six catches for 166 yards and four touchdowns. It is the first four-TD game by an FBS tight end since 2011.

Defense: Luc Bequette, Cal – Recorded 8 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble in the Bears’ 15-14 win against USC.

Special teams: Matt Gay, Utah – The only nominee for the award this week, Gay was 6-for-6 on fields and made both extra points in a 32-25 win against Oregon.

Pac-12 Team of the Week

Washington State: The Cougars continued their impressive run, winning their sixth in a row with the rout of Colorado. Mike Leach’s team was supposed to be in rebuild mode this season – that’s what many “experts” thought anyway. I actually think what Washington State and quarterback Gardner Minshew are doing is being under-rated nationally. Given Minshew’s journey and the way the Cougars are bonded together after the suicide of quarterback Tyler Hilinski in January, this is one of the nation’s best stories.

National Team of the Week

Northwestern: The Wildcats were once 1-3, with three consecutive losses, including at home to Akron. Now, they are the Big Ten West division champions. Northwestern upset Iowa on Saturday and is now 6-1 in Big Ten play.

A few thoughts on the Pac-12 after Week 10:

1. Very impressed with Utah at this point. To beat a solid Oregon team in a week when starting quarterback Tyler Huntley and star running back Zack Moss suffer season-ending injuries is quite an achievement. The Utes are eying their first trip to the Pac-12 title game and they just might get there.

2. To me, Mike Leach is the slam-dunk choice for Pac-12 coach of the year right now, and I’d argue he’s the national coach of the year. After a tumultuous offseason in Pullman, not much was expected of Washington State this season. Yet, the Cougars are actually in the College Football Playoff discussion with just a few weeks to play.

Pac-12 rankings

After week 11, here’s how I rank the teams in the Pac-12:

1. Washington State (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12): Six wins in a row for the Cougars, and they’re proving they can play on the road, too.

2. Washington (7-3, 5-2): Huskies were off last week, resting up and gearing up for a run at the North title.

3. Arizona State (6-4, 4-3): With two weeks to play, the Sun Devils are in the driver’s seat for the South.

4. Utah (7-3, 5-3): Very impressive win against Oregon. Utes hoping for an ASU stumble.

5. California (6-4, 3-4): Nobody in the Pac-12 is playing better defense right now.

6. Stanford (6-4, 4-3): It’s been a struggle, but David Shaw’s team got to bowl eligibility by routing Oregon State.

7. Arizona (5-5, 4-3): Wildcats were idle last week and aim for bowl eligibility this week.

8. Oregon (6-4, 3-4): Ducks had a golden opportunity in Salt Lake City and missed it.

9. USC (5-5, 4-4): Trojans are a mess right now, and Clay Helton’s seat might be hotter than MacIntyre’s.

10. Oregon State (2-8, 1-6): Beavers are back to their old ways, losing by 31 to Stanford.

11. Colorado (5-5, 2-5): Buffs got back to their old ways, too, losing by 24 to Wazzu.

12. UCLA (2-8, 2-5): Bruins are actually playing pretty solid, losing by only three at ASU, but they’re still staring at a last-place finish.

Quote the of week

Colorado QB Steven Montez, when asked about signing autographs and talking with kids Saturday, despite the disappointment of a bad loss for the Buffaloes:

“As crazy as it sounds, I remember what it’s like to be one of those kids. I remember when I saw Andrew Luck at Stanford and I remember trying to shake his hand and try to meet him. I was kind of blown away. I was meeting these guys that you look up to. Kids, they go out there and they want to watch the game and they want to watch football and they have guys they look up to. Whether we win or lose it doesn’t really matter (to them). Those kids are here to support us, so I’m going to definitely show them love whenever I can.”

Very classy move and answer from Montez. He gets it.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or