EVEN BETTER DAYS AHEAD FOR BUFFS
boulder» With one game left to play this year, the Colorado football team is enjoying its best season in 15 years, but athletic director Rick George believes the Mike MacIntyre-coached Buffaloes are just getting started.
“I think this was a great year for our football program,” George said. “All the kudos go to (MacIntyre) and his staff and the players, but I think our best days are ahead of us.”
After enduring 10 consecutive losing seasons, the Buffs (10-3) are No. 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings and No. 11 in The Associated Press poll. They will play Oklahoma State (9-3, No. 12 CFP, No. 13 AP) in the Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Dec. 29.
For directing the Buffs’ turnaround, MacIntyre has received several national coach of the year honors, as well as being named Pac-12 Conference coach of the year by his peers and the media.
“I’m happy about every single award he gets, because he deserves them and he’s worked hard to get them,” George said.
“The impressive thing is the way his team, his staff and he stayed focused on the next thing. They’ve done a great job with that all year. A lot of that has to do with Mike’s leadership, but it also has to do with the senior leadership that he had.”
The Buffs have a senior-laden team, especially on defense, but George is confident that the pieces are in place to keep the momentum going after this season.
“It’s taken us 11 years to get to this point, and I’m happy that we’ve got to that point,” George said. “Moving forward, it’s about consistency in competing at that level every year.
“I know we can’t talk about specifics in recruiting, but we’re off to a pretty good start, and I see that continuing to get better and better every year. I’m excited about our future.”
Back in the groove
With 27 days between games, and finals week in the middle of that time, CU has had a disjointed practice schedule this month. It has included several light practices, and two stretches of four days off.
With final exams now behind them, the Buffs got back on the practice field Friday and will have a more regular schedule before the bowl game arrives.
“It’s exciting to be out there,” junior safety Afolabi Laguda said. “I think we’re starting to get our rhythm back, we’re starting to jell again. It’s just a great time to be out there with the seniors for the last time. It’s going to be a great game on the 29th.”
While finals week was mentally grueling for some of the players, Laguda said the physical break was important.
“It feels good to be recovered and fresh,” he said. “Physically we definitely got a break, and that break was needed.”
Going the “JC route”
Having a defense loaded with talented seniors helped the Buffs enjoy a breakout season. But it means the Buffs will have several holes to fill next year.
While the Buffs like the young players they have on the roster, they added some experience to their defense this past week by signing three junior college players: defensive tackle Javier Edwards, outside linebacker and defensive end Chris Mulumba and cornerback Dante Wigley.
“The JC route is important for us,” MacIntyre said. “I always want to sign a few JC guys every year. It brings some maturity. It also brings guys in that are extremely hungry that have had to go a little different route. I think that’s important.”
Mike MacIntyre, above, the 2016 national coach of the year, has led CU to a 10-3 record, a Pac-12 division title and a berth in the Alamo Bowl. “I’m happy about every single award he gets,” says Rick George, CU’s athletic director.