MacIntyre Looking To Emulate McCartney's Hall of Fame Career
By Christopher Wuensch
Everything you need to know about the charisma of Bill McCartney can be gleaned from one incident: with his Buffaloes a paltry 1-7 eight games into his coaching career in Boulder, the University of Colorado gave the rookie coach a contract extension.
That was 1982. When McCartney retired a dozen years later, he turned off the lights for the final time at Folsom Field as the most decorated head coach in Buffs’ history.
The College Football Hall of Fame rewarded McCartney for his lofty career on April 7, announcing the coach as a member its 2013 induction class.
McCartney oversaw arguably the biggest moments in CU football history, including the infamous “Fifth Down Game,” the “Miracle at Michigan,” the program’s first No. 1 ranking — and lest we forget, Colorado’s lone national title.
He retired atop the CU record books in career games coached, wins and losses (remember, Cy Young is MLB’s all-time leader in career losses, and they named an award after him). McCartney ended his tenure at Colorado with a 93-55-5 record.
“It’s a surprise and it is very humbling when you look at the men that have been recognized with this honor over the years,” said McCartney via Colorado’s official website CUBuffs.com. “It’s very gratifying and rewarding. Keep in mind I’ve been out of coaching almost 20 years, so to be remembered after such a long absence was a complete surprise to me.”
McCartney’s hall-of-fame honors come as Colorado enters a new coaching era with the December hiring of Mike MacIntyre.
Aside from the Gaelic-sounding last names, the situations both coaches found upon their arrival in Boulder offer some parallels.
The program tasked both coaches with the goal of turning around moribund Buffaloes teams. The pre-McCartney-era Buffs endured three straight losing seasons. MacIntrye is being asked to slam the brakes on seven consecutive years of futility.
Both coaches endured early one-win seasons that didn’t derail their career before they could start.
MacIntyre kicked off his inaugural season as a head coach at San Jose State by guiding the Spartans to a 1-12 mark. In McCartney’s third year in Boulder — two years after the aforementioned contract extension — the coach managed just one win in 11 tries.
Two years after his disastrous debut, MacIntyre was 10-2 at San Jose and the Spartans were Military Bowl champs.
McCartney never finished sub .500 again. In fact, his Buffs went 11-1 three times after CU’s woeful 1984 season.
Both coaches might have the golden eye for recruits.
McCartney was able to keep Colorado’s in-state talent in state. The result was the foundation for what would become the Buffaloes’ 1990 national-title squad. MacIntyre’s last full class (at San Jose State) was hailed as the best in the WAC.
Both coaches overhauled the offense upon their arrival.
Colorado was a passing school when McCartney took over for the late Chuck Fairbanks, who went 7-26 in three seasons. McCartney installed the wishbone offense and the turnaround was nearly historic. The Buffs went from last to ninth in rushing and last to first in net punting.
MacIntyre will do the opposite. He’ll look to adapt the Buffs to a new Pistol offense. Colorado’s pro set offense under last year’s coach Jon Embree didn’t work with the limited weapons out of the backfield, rendering an air attack almost moot. Thus, the Buffs finished 96th in the nation in passing offense last year.
San Jose State, conversely, finished sixth in the country in passing offense and first in completion percentage (71.8 percent) under MacIntyre.
It stands to reason that MacIntyre inherits a situation similar to the one bequeathed to McCartney in the early 1980s.
Time will tell if history will repeat itself.
While McCartney played his college ball as a center for Missouri, MacIntyre bounced from Vanderbilt to Georgia Tech as a defensive back. MacIntyre graduated one year before the Yellow Jackets tied McCartney’s Buffaloes for the national title in 1990.
Buffs Nation would love to see MacIntyre and McCartney’s paths eventually intersect; especially if MacIntyre is named the eighth CU player/coach to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
COLORADO BUFFALOES IN THE COLLEGE HALL OF FAME
Bill McCartney, Coach (2013)
John Wooten, G (2012)
Alfred Williams, LB (2010)
Bobby Anderson, RB (2006)
Dick Anderson, DB (1993)
Joe Romig, G (1984)
Byron “Whizzer” White, RB (1952)
2013 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS
Ted Brown, RB North Carolina State (1975-78)
Ron Dayne, RB Wisconsin (1996-99)
Tommy Frazier, QB Nebraska (1992-95)
Jerry Gray, DB Texas (1981-84)
Steve Meilinger, DE Kentucky (1951-53)
Orlando Pace, T Ohio State (1994-96)
Rod Shoate, LB Oklahoma (1972-74)
Percy Snow, LB Michigan State (1986-89)
Vinny Testaverde, QB Miami (1985-86)
Don Trull, QB Baylor (1961-63)
Danny Wuerffel, QB Florida (1993-96)
Wayner Hardin, Coach Navy and Temple