Mike McIntyre ends every meeting with the same two slogans, “Welcome to the Fight” and “players make plays, players win games.” In his first three years in Boulder, his players didn’t make enough plays, or win very many games. In year four of his tenure as head coach at Colorado, he’s building a winning mentality, and it’s paying off on the field, and in the win column.
After a lackluster and undisciplined performance against UCLA last Thursday, you saw a coach with absolute buy-in from the team, and a coach teaching the game the right way. Since the year began, Mac has told the team they need to be champions off the field, on it, and in all aspects of life.
In the third quarter against the Bruins, after Mac told KOA radio he was going to “get after their ass” at halftime, outside linebacker Ryan Moeller made a big hit along the Buffaloes sideline. Instead of heading back to the huddle, he stood over the receiver, said some choice words, and drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. McIntyre could have let it go. The game was close and he had already lost his best pass rusher Jimmie Gilbert to a targeting penalty in the first drive of the game. He didn’t do that though, he made Moeller leave the game, sit on the bench, and gave him an earful his entire walk there. Mac made a statement, one that resonated throughout the team. Colorado isn’t going to be that kind of program, and he backed it up by his actions on Thursday night.
After the game, when asked how the team was going to clean up their play, McIntyre said he was going to “get their attention.” On Friday morning, the entire team ran until the message was reinforced. Watching the post game press conference, winning wasn’t enough. A team that’s won 5 games since joining the PAC-12 in 2011 isn’t content with just winning anymore. McIntyre said he was disappointed in the way the team played, and the players echoed their head coach. When asked if he thought he’d be upset with a win before the season started, he gave a sly smile, and said “no.”
I’ll admit I’ve been very critical of McIntyre during his time in Boulder, and after all the close losses last year I wondered if he would ever get over the hump. I couldn’t be happier to be proven wrong, and it’s safe to say I’m a believer in Mike McIntyre, and the program he’s building at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. As the season reaches the final stretch, I remember one quote from the before the Oregon State game. “There’s a PAC-12 Championship football team in here! And over my dead body are you not gonna get there. It’s about Colorado, It’s about what’s in your heart.” Strap in, because this is going to be one heck of a ride to the finish.