Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera
Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera
Welcome to the latest Monday, er, Tuesday Rewind. For those who have expected this column each Monday, I apologize for the delay. Rick George made me busy on Sunday and I didn’t have time to put this together.
A day late, here’s the Rewind
For the past few weeks, Mike MacIntyre’s job status has been the main topic of this column. The writing was on the wall after the stunning 41-34 overtime loss to Oregon State on Oct. 27. And, as you all know, the Colorado head coach was fired on Sunday after a 30-7 loss to Utah.
I’m not going to use this space to bash MacIntyre this week. I’ll just say that it was time, and it was clear that a change needed to be made.
Because he was fired, MacIntyre’s been lumped in with Dan Hawkins and Jon Embree for those who state that CU is now 0-for-3 on its last three coaching hires.
OK, I know he was fired, but I don’t consider MacIntyre a miss, and I want to give him some credit.
MacIntyre took over a program that was in bad shape. Hawkins won six of his last 23 games, while Embree went 4-21 in two seasons.
I have no idea how CU was able to pull off a 35-34 win at Washington State in 2012, because that season included a home loss to Sacramento State, an embarrassing 69-14 loss at Fresno State and seven Pac-12 losses by 25 points or more. This was a team that gave up 50 points five times (including 70 once).
In Embree’s two seasons, the Buffs lost by 25-plus points 14 times, and got outscored by an average of 26 points in Pac-12 games.
That’s the situation MacIntyre walked into, and it took a bit to clean it up. The ugliness continued in MacIntyre’s first season, in 2013, but those blowout losses became few and far between under his watch.
In 2015, the Buffs were 1-8 in the Pac-12 – the same record as the dreadful season of 2012 – but rather than getting blown out in those losses, four of them came by a single score.
In 2016, the perception of CU football changed when the Buffs went 10-4, won the Pac-12 South and finished the season in the Top 20. MacIntyre was national coach of the year.
Of course, CU hasn’t matched that in the two seasons since, and that’s why MacIntyre was ultimately fired, but the Buffs are competitive week in and week out. Well, most weeks.
Bottom line, I’m not going to argue that MacIntyre should be put into the same class as Bill McCartney, Eddie Crowder, Fred Folsom or even Gary Barnett. But, MacIntyre should be admired for making a positive impact on the CU football program.
It’s time to move on, but MacIntyre leaves CU in better shape than he found it.
A few thoughts from the weekend:
1. Personally, I’ll miss MacIntyre. He was good to the media for the most part, and fairly easy to work with. Yeah, we would have liked to see more open practices, but that’s not normal procedure these days in Division I football. Under MacIntyre, we had a lot of access to him, and much more access to assistants and players than some schools – including one up the road in Fort Collins – give to the media. He and I got along well, and I do think he will be a winner in his next job.
2. Every week, the Buffs talk about wanting to get to a bowl game, and they can’t seem to get there. But, they do have a shot this week. Perhaps the coaching change will spark them. So, let’s say they get it done and upset Cal, finishing 6-6 and earning bowl eligibility. The prize? Most likely it would be the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix on Dec. 26, but could also be the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 15, or an at-large bowl bid.
3. On Sunday, I put together an initial list of potential candidates. It’s a list of 10 coaches who might be a good fit for the Buffaloes, but really we don’t know exactly what George will be looking for. He’s never hired a football coach, so it will be interesting to see what he does. Here’s a key quote from George from Sunday, though: “I know where I want this program to go. I want to win Pac-12 Championships, I want to win national championships and I’m committed to that.” This isn’t just a nice quote to please the fans. Rick George is a very competitive person, and he knows what CU can be. He was here during the Bill McCartney years, and has seen the potential. So, who gets them to where George wants to go? If he wants to win Pac-12 and national championships, he’s going to want a coach that knows what it takes to win at that level. I don’t think it’s a given that he’ll hire someone with head coaching experience, but I think he’s going to want a coach that knows how Power 5 programs work – and win. So, with that, here’s a few more names to consider:
Dino Babers, Syracuse: The Orange are enjoying their best season in years, at 8-3, and my guess is that Syracuse gives him a hefty raise to stay. But, I think he’d be attractive to CU for several reasons, including his ties to California (he grew up in San Diego) and Hawaii (born there, and played at Hawaii). He’s had five Power 5 assistant jobs, including a total of 10 years in the Pac-12 at Arizona and UCLA, and six years coaching in Texas. And, he’s won in each of his three head coaching stops (Eastern Illinois, Bowling Green, Syracuse).
Seth Littrell, North Texas: A rising star at 40, he’s heading to a third bowl in three years with the Mean Green. Prior to going to North Texas, he spent 14 years as an assistant with Power 5 schools (Kansas, Texas Tech, Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina) – and he played at Oklahoma. Either as a player or coach, he’s a part of 15 bowl seasons. He’s also very familiar with recruiting in Texas.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: In his fifth season at Vandy, he’s gone to just one bowl (could be two if he wins Saturday vs. Tennessee), but he’s done a good job at a tough place to win. He’s also familiar with the Pac-12, as a Phoenix native and spending four years at Stanford – including three as defensive coordinator. The Cardinal went 46-8 during his time there.
Tony Alford, assistant head coach/RB coach, Ohio State: The former CSU running back and Doherty High School graduate certainly has an impressive Power 5 pedigree, with four seasons at Ohio State, five at Notre Dame and a combined 12 seasons at Iowa State, Louisville and Washington.
Dave Aranda, defensive coordinator, LSU: CU could certainly make a splash hiring the highest paid assistant in college football. Perhaps the best DC in the country, he’s guided dominating defenses at LSU, Wisconsin and Utah State. He also grew up in California, can recruit Texas and Louisiana and spent four years in Hawaii.
Tim Beck, off. Coordinator/QB coach, Texas: He has spent the last 11 years as either coordinator, QB coach or RB coach at three traditional powers: Nebraska (2008-14), Ohio State (2015-16) and Texas (2017-18). He was also a part of Kansas’ staff during its 12-1 season in 2001, and he spent six years coaching high school football in Texas.
Pep Hamilton, assistant HC/QB coach, Michigan: He has a long history in the NFL, working with five different teams, but has been at Michigan for the past two years. He also spent three seasons at Stanford, where he worked with Andrew Luck.
Jimmy Lake, def. coordinator/DB coach, Washington: In his fifth season at Washington, where he’s been a major contributor to the Huskies’ dominating defense and a good recruiter. Previous worked at Boise State and has coached defensive backs in the NFL. It’s only a matter of time before he becomes a head coach.
Tosh Lupoi, def. coordinator, Alabama: In his fifth year with the Tide, including third as either full-time or co-DC. The Tide ranked first nationally in scoring defense in 2016 and 2017 and they are third this year. He played at one of the nation’s top high schools (De La Salle in Concord, Calif.) and at Cal. Prior to Alabama, he coached defensive line at Cal and Washington. Oh, and he’s regarded as one of the top recruiters in the country.
Jake Spavital, off. Coordinator/QB coach, West Virginia: A lot of people have focused on WV head coach Dana Holgorsen for this search, but Spavital might be the better fit. The 33-year-old is in his second season with the Mountains after working as OC at Cal in 2016 and Texas A&M from 2013-15 and QB coach at West Virginia from 2011-12. Quarterbacks he’s worked with in the last eight years: Geno Smith, Johnny Manziel, Davis Webb and Will Grier. Grew up in Tulsa and is familiar with recruiting in Texas.
The week’s best Buffs
1. AD Rick George: Yeah, I know this is usually for the best players from the previous game, but let’s be honest: George won the week in the eyes of many CU fans by pulling the plug on the MacIntyre era.
2. LB Nate Landman: Finished with 14 tackles (11 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
3. BUFF Davion Taylor: Had a solid day all around with nine tackles, one tackle for loss and a QB hurry.
4. P Alex Kinney: Returned after missing eight games with a broken collarbone and punted seven times for 289 yards (41.3 average), with three punts landing inside the 20-yard line.
5. RB Travon McMillian: I’m not sure anyone on offense deserves to be on the list, but I continue to be impressed with what McMillian is doing. The OL struggles to block decent defensive linemen, but McMillian still managed 41 yards and the only TD of the game for CU.
Stat of the week
This week marks the sixth time in the last 16 seasons that CU goes into the final game of the regular season at 5-6 and needing a win for bowl eligibility. So far, the Buffs’ record in those games is 1-4. A look at those games:
2003: Lost at home to Nebraska, 31-22
2007: Beat Nebraska at home, 65-51
2008: Lost at Nebraska, 40-31
2010: Lost at Nebraska, 45-17
2017: Lost at Utah, 34-13
Pac-12 players of the week
Here’s who I voted for this week for Pac-12 honors:
Offense: Joshua Kelley, UCLA: Washington State’s Gardner Minshew was amazing (473 yards, 7 TD passes), but Kelley stepped up in a big rivalry game. He rushed for 289 yards and two touchdowns in the Bruins’ win against USC.
Defense: Gus Cumberlander, Oregon: Made a big impact in the Ducks’ 31-29 win against Arizona State. He recorded two sacks – the first Oregon player with two in a game this season – and recovered the game-clinching fumble in the final three minutes.
Special teams: Matt Gay, Utah – Last week’s winner, he followed up a 6-for-6 performance by making three of four field goals against Colorado. His day included a 51-yard field goal. His only miss, from 56-yards out, ended a streak of 21 consecutive makes.
Pac-12 Team of the Week
Utah: Second straight week I’m giving the nod to the team that beat CU. That’s not good for the Buffs, but let’s give the Utes credit. They finally won the Pac-12 South. It took eight years, but now every team in the South has won the division. It’s fitting that Utah won it this year, because I think this might be coach Kyle Whittingham’s most complete team since joining the conference.
National Team of the Week
Central Florida: All the Knights do is win, and they won in impressive fashion last week, 38-13 against a Cincinnati team that was 9-1 coming in. UCF is now 10-0 and 23-0 over the past two seasons. I don’t think they belong in the College Football Playoff discussion because their schedule is soft, but I’ve got to give them credit: they win their games. There are a lot of teams with weak schedules that don’t win them all.
A few thoughts on the Pac-12 after Week 10:
1. My goodness, Washington State. The Cougars scored at will in the first half against Arizona, putting up 55 points before intermission in an easy 69-28 victory. I’m rooting for the Cougars to beat Washington and Utah in the next two weeks and make a run at the College Football Playoff. They’d probably get waxed by Alabama, but I’d love to see Gardner Minshew and Mike Leach get a shot.
2. I’m not sure if last week’s USC-UCLA said more about Chip Kelly or Clay Helton. In his first year coaching the Bruins, Kelly pulled off the 34-27 upset, an extremely satisfying win in a 3-8 season. UCLA’s gonna be a beast to deal with under Kelly. USC, meanwhile, is in danger of not even getting to a bowl game in what could be Helton’s final season. At 5-6, the Trojans need to upset No. 3 Notre Dame (11-0) just to get to a bowl.
3. Washington has managed to hang around in the North division, and the Huskies have a shot to get into the title game. They’ll need to upset Washington State in Pullman, but they’ve owned their in-state rivals in recent years.
After week 12, here’s how I rank the teams in the Pac-12:
1. Washington State (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12): The win streak is now seven, and they’re getting better. They’ve outscored their last two opponents 100-35.
2. Utah (8-3, 6-3): Congrats to the Utes for finally winning the South.
3. Washington (8-3, 6-2): Huskies knocked off Oregon State to remain in contention for the North division title.
4. California (6-4, 3-4): Poor air quality from the wildfires postponed the game with Stanford. Going into this week, though, the Bears are playing great defense.
5. Stanford (6-4, 4-3): Cardinal are on the road (UCLA, Cal) in the last two, but still aiming for strong finish.
6. Oregon (7-4, 4-4): They held on to beat ASU, getting a much-needed win.
7. Arizona State (6-5, 4-4): The overall record isn’t great, but all five losses have come by seven points or less.
8. UCLA (3-8, 3-5): Upset of USC may have been the jolt the Bruins need to get the program rolling.
9. USC (5-6, 4-5): Hard to believe the Trojans have fallen so far they are facing their first losing season since Paul Hackett was head coach in 2000.
10. Arizona (5-6, 4-4): They’ve had some good moments at times, but need to upset rival ASU to get to a bowl.
11. Oregon State (2-9, 1-7): Beavers have still only defeated one FBS team in the last years, but it was the team below them here.
12. Colorado (6-5, 2-6): The losing streak is now six and it’s getting ugly in Boulder.
Quote the of week
This wasn’t a quote I got from a player, but something posted on social media. I included it in an article Monday, but this is from receiver Jay MacIntyre, who posted a picture on social media of him scoring a touchdown against Nebraska on Sept. 8. In the background of the picture is his dad, the now former head coach, jumping in celebration. I feel bad for Jay, who has put his heart into this program and put his body on the line a lot. I can’t imagine how it feels to see his dad get fired with one game to play in his senior year. Although I used this in another article, I think the class he showed here deserves to be the quote of the week:
“As I look at this picture I see my coach, who happens to be my dad in the background running down the sidelines with his hands in the air,” Jay wrote on social media. “A coach who cared for his players deeply and changed the whole entire culture of Colorado football. Words can’t describe how awesome of a ride it’s been with you by my side at CU these past five years. We won the Pac 12 south, beat Nebraska in Lincoln and ultimately changed what people thought of the CU logo. No one will ever know how much you, me, and our whole family put into the program. Our hard work has payed (sic) off in ways that not everyone will see, but we know that we have given it our all. I love you coach and am FOREVER proud to be a MacIntyre.”
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.