December 6, 2012
This date suddenly has relevance for the Colorado Football program. It is a “what could have been” date now; a “where would we be now?” date.
It was on that date that Butch Jones, then Head Coach at Cincinnati, called then Colorado AD Mike Bohn to turn down the job offer as Head Football Coach at CU to replace Jon Embree and try and get CU back to the glory days of the past. This coming a day after the Denver Post went with a story that stated “Butch Jones to be Colorado coach, source says.” The hire was going to be very popular in Boulder given that Jones had helped maintain Cincinnati as a perennial Top 25 program.
Butch Jones was been offered the job and apparently had accepted, but then when Tennessee came calling for an interview, he referred to the reports of him becoming the new CU coach, false.
The next day on December 7, 2012, Butch Jones was hired at Tennessee as the Head Football Coach.
Suddenly, Colorado was back to square one.
Three days later in December 10, 2012, Colorado hired, what was then choice B, in San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre. The hire at the time was not popular by any means, even with the success MacIntyre had building up the San Jose State program. Colorado had already gone the route of hiring the hot, smaller school coach guy in Dan Hawkins. Dan Hawkins lasted 5 years in Boulder, never posting a winning season, going to one bowl game. This coming on the heels of 5 years as the Head Coach at Boise State where he went 53-11 and had four bowl game appearances.
So needless to say, the mood in Boulder with the hiring of Mike MacIntyre was anything but joyous....subdued skepticism....that would be a good way to describe it.
Let us now fast forward to today: Halloween, 2016.
Butch Jones is still the Head Coach at Tennessee. There has been some turnaround at UT, but things, well, might be starting to get rocky for Rocky Top.
Three straight losses, including an embarrassing loss this past weekend to South Carolina, and news that his preseason All-SEC running back Jalen Hurd is transferring from the school has Butch Jones squarely on the hot seat in Knoxville. This along with off-season issues such as a Title IX lawsuit have Tennessee people seeing it as another blown year, another season of broken promises, and another year of unattainable expectations. The ship seems to be slowly sinking for Coach Jones in Tennessee and there is nothing seemingly that can be done to stop it.
Meanwhile in Boulder……
Mike MacIntyre is now reaping the fruits of his steady work and is a leading candidate for National Coach of the Year. He has Colorado ranked for the first time in 11 years (right now at #20), in control of their own destiny in the PAC12 South division, and is recruiting at such a pace, the Colorado recruiting class for 2017 sits right now at #24 according toESPN. Colorado has three very winnable games left vs. UCLA, at Arizona, and vs. Washington State, before a season ending, possible winner take all for the South clash with Utah, in Boulder, on November 26. If they were to win out and face an undefeated Washington team in the PAC12 title game, Colorado would probably be guaranteed no worse than a Rose Bowl bid win or lose to Washington. The facilities at CU have been upgraded, people in Boulder are excited, recruits are committing to the Buffs, and Colorado is suddenly the darling of college football.
So what would have happened if Butch Jones, the popular choice at the time, would have taken the job at Colorado? Would CU be having the same success that they are now finding? Or would Colorado be on the cusp, again, of having to search for another coach?
Would Mike MacIntyre landed somewhere else like USC, Washington, Cal, or Wisconsin?
There is no doubt that it is easy to look at things suddenly and realize that Mike MacIntye was made to turn a program around like CU. It is always easy to look at things now and say “best thing that could have happened to CU”, but in truth this is just another case of sometimes in life, the best choice is not always the most obvious or popular.
Sometimes the best choices in life take time to become the things that are desired and wanted the most.