Wait on showing Mac the money
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.