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Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
On Wednesday, just 24 hours after Colorado football coach Mike MacIntyre brought a portrait of his spirit buffalo charging through a storm to his weekly press conference to help refute a report detailing his imminent demise as the Buffs leader, a picturesque, sun-splashed day greeted MacIntyre as he met with a much smaller media contingent.
With a brilliant blue sky looming over the façade of Folsom Field, MacIntyre was asked if he would savor the scene a little more on Saturday, given if the report released early this week by Denver Channel 7 is true, the 500th game at Folsom will double as MacIntyre’s last.
He replied by saying he always savors such moments. And MacIntyre explained why by recounting a story that shows why losing a job, especially one that still will pay you nearly $10 million to go home and sit on the couch, doesn’t fit the description of heartbreaking or tragic.
“I savor everything. I really do,” MacIntyre said. “When I was coaching at UT-Martin one of my good friends, I was (in) my early 30s, he went out for a bike ride and got hit and never came back. It made me realize at that time — savor all your relationships, savor everything you do. I won’t do this any different than I do any other game.”
MacIntyre’s commendable perspective aside, not doing anything differently in the past month and a half is a big reason why this once-promising season has crashed so catastrophically to the turf.
The lukewarm denials offered by athletic director Rick George, combined with MacIntyre’s own subtle insistence this week of highlighting the solid achievements he has accumulated at CU and throughout his coaching career, didn’t exactly quell the report that MacIntyre would be done after the season with any sort of confidence. Typically I’m not a fan of letting a coach twist in the wind. If the decision has been made, make it and move on. From not forcing a lame-duck coach to go through the motions on the sideline to dealing as quickly as possible to the inevitable fallout on the recruiting trail, the chore of cleaning up the mess usually is best tackled as soon as possible.
This is not one of those times.
Get back to me before next week’s regular season finale at Cal if Utah ends up decimating the Buffs on Saturday, but even if MacIntyre’s fate already is sealed, he deserves the chance to at least coach this final home game at Folsom Field.
No doubt, the frustrations of George and fans alike are reaching a crescendo. Barring a turnaround in the final two games that seems unlikely given what the Buffs have presented on the field over the past month, CU is headed to the Pac-12 South cellar for the fifth time in MacIntyre’s six seasons. For the second straight year the Buffs have struggled down the stretch, evidence of a program prone to regressing instead of peaking at the right time. Numbers like a MacIntyre’s 14-37 record in league play and an 0-8 mark in the past two years when playing for bowl eligibility have grown too glaring to ignore. Name any program that would tolerate five last-place finishes in six seasons without making a change.
The anomaly of MacIntyre’s tenure, of course, was the 10-win, Pac-12 South title-winning season of 2016, a campaign that accounted for more than half of the coach’s current total of league wins. Letting MacIntyre go prior to the home finale would have caused a lengthy list of headaches, not the least of which is that his son, receiver Jay MacIntyre, will be going through Senior Day festivities prior to Saturday’s game. Do you fire your coach, then invite him to stand with the rest of the parents on the Folsom turf before the game?
Moreover, while the wounds remain raw this season, there is little question the CU football program is in much better shape, by leaps and bounds, than it was when MacIntyre arrived. For that, he should eventually be celebrated, particularly if a new coach eventually is able to take the foundation MacIntyre built to the next level. There have been plenty of problems with this team. Playing hard generally hasn’t been one of them. Removing the coach from that equation would have sealed a 5-7 finish.
At this stage, MacIntyre deserves to be on the sideline Saturday. After that? We shall see.