Wait on show­ing Mac the money

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - MARK KISZLA Den­ver Post Colum­nist

The Rise is real, but does Colorado coach Mike MacIn­tyre de­serve a real big raise af­ter lead­ing the Buf­faloes to their first 10-vic­tory sea­son since 2001?

That’s the $10 mil­lion ques­tion for CU ath­letic direc­tor Rick Ge­orge. Be­hind the feel-good story of the Buf­faloes’ re­turn to foot­ball glory, there’s a se­ri­ous money de­ci­sion to be made.

MacIn­tyre was named Thurs­day the Wal­ter Camp coach of the year by his peers. It’s an honor richly de­served by a coach who be­gan the year on the hot seat and never blinked. A rea­son­able ar­gu­ment can be made that MacIn­tyre has earned a big bump from his an­nual $2 mil­lion salary, which makes him the low­est-paid coach in the Pac-12.

Maybe the easy thing for Ge­orge would be to show MacIn­tyre the money.

But the shrewd thing for Colorado would be to make MacIn­tyre prove this sea­son was more than a dream. A hefty, long-

term con­tract ex­ten­sion? Not so fast. MacIn­tyre’s cur­rent agree­ment with CU runs through the 2018 sea­son. Add a year to the deal at a nom­i­nal raise, then let this coach­ing staff show it can re­build a stout de­fense that will say good­bye to stand­out play­ers such as Chi­dobe Awuzie and Jim­mie Gil­bert be­fore wed­ding the pro­gram to MacIn­tyre well into the next decade. Can we make cer­tain the fickle crowd at Fol­som Field is here to stay?

Ge­orge stood by a coach he felt pres­sure to dis­miss a year ago, when the Buffs fin­ished 4-9 and the team’s record in con­fer­ence play fell to 2-25 un­der MacIn­tyre. Loy­alty works both ways, doesn’t it?

MacIn­tyre in­sists he loves coach­ing in Boul­der, and I be­lieve those are more than hol­low words. There is not a sin­gle cur­rent va­cancy at a power five foot­ball pro­gram that presents a can’t-miss op­por­tu­nity for MacIn­tyre, un­less you be­lieve Phil Knight is ready to rob a Pac-12 ri­val to get the Ore­gon Ducks fly­ing high again. Jay MacIn­tyre is not only a CU re­ceiver who en­joyed a break­out sea­son with the Buffs, he’s the coach’s kid. No father would want to mess with that happy fam­ily tale.

And should the CU coach go look­ing for lever­age at Bay­lor or Hous­ton? Ge­orge can call that bluff by MacIn­tyre, be­cause there is a school of thought that the rise didn’t re­ally be­gin for the Buffs un­til Jim Leav­itt was hired as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

While the Buffs might not beat Wash­ing­ton in the Pac-12 cham­pi­onship game, their coach can­not lose. The terms of MacIn­tyre’s orig­i­nal con­tract stip­u­lated a $100,000 bonus for an ap­pear­ance in the ti­tle game to de­ter­mine the con­fer­ence ti­tle, a $200,000 bonus for re­ceiv­ing a bowl bid and $100,000 more for guid­ing CU to eight vic­to­ries and be­ing named the league’s coach of the year. The hot seat is in the rearview mir­ror. MacIn­tyre is laugh­ing all the way to the bank.

MacIn­tyre has a heart of gold whose ev­ery beat serves as a re­minder that nice guys don’t have to fin­ish last. I would rec­om­mend that any five-star prep prospect should give a re­cruit­ing pitch by MacIn­tyre se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. But I would not rec­om­mend the Buffs give MacIn­tyre a long-term bump to $3 mil­lion per year, let alone to the $4 mil­lion salary earned by Stan­ford’s David Shaw, the league’s best coach.

The Buffs showed pa­tience with MacIn­tyre through three sea­sons of tough losses. It proved to be a smart move. Af­ter one year of big suc­cess, is it time to show MacIn­tyre the big money? Nope. Pa­tience. Please.

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