Bu≠s’ coach up against old friend
Glenn Spencer was on a hunt for the right digits.
Oklahoma State had just been selected to play in the Alamo Bowl against Colorado, and the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator was trying to get in touch with an old friend from the other side.
“As coaches, we bounce around to so many places, and I think I had about six phone numbers for him,” Spencer said of CU coach Mike MacIntyre. “It took me a couple of weeks to get the right one to congratulate him and tell him how much I was looking forward to seeing him and (MacIntyre’s wife) Trisha and catching up.”
When No. 11 CU (10-3) and No. 13 Oklahoma State (9-3) meet Dec. 29 in San Antonio, it will mark a reunion of two coaches whose football paths date back more than 30 years.
MacIntyre and Spencer first met in 1985, when Spencer was finishing up his playing career as a defensive tackle at Georgia Tech and MacIntyre, a defensive back, had just transferred to the school from Vanderbilt, where his father, George, had resigned as head coach after seven seasons.
“We’ve known each other for a long time,” MacIntyre said. “We’re both former Yellow Jackets. Glenn is a phenomenal man, and he’s done a great job (at Oklahoma State).”
Though the two coaches didn’t keep in constant contact when they first broke into the profession after college, their paths crossed again in the late 1990s, when their families met at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes coaches camps during a couple summers in Black Mountain, N.C.
Mike and Trisha MacIntyre became friendly with Spencer and his wife, Angela, who later died after a long battle with heart problems in 2011.
“Every year, we’d have a little reunion up there with our families, and it was pretty neat,” Spencer said.
Their careers continued to intertwine after that. Spencer served as a defensive assistant at Duke from 2004-06. When MacIntyre arrived at Duke in 2008 to serve as defensive coordinator under coach David Cutcliffe, he talked to Spencer about some of the personnel the Blue Devils had on defense.
“I think I left him a few good linebackers when I left there,” Spencer said with a laugh. “One of them is still playing in the NFL, Vincent Ray with the Cincinnati Bengals.”
Spencer has found stability at Oklahoma State, where he has coached defense since 2008 and has been a coordinator since 2011. The Cowboys have had four 10-win seasons since Spencer arrived and defeated Stanford to win the 2012 Fiesta Bowl.
MacIntyre has found his own footing in his fourth year as coach at CU, where he has been named national coach of the year by virtually every entity that gives out such an award. It’s recognition for the greatest turnaround job in Pac-12 history.
“Here’s the key,” Spencer said. “I really enjoy it when somebody of Mike’s character, first of all, gets a chance to be a head coach and then, secondly, to be so productive and do it the right way. In our profession these days, I get soured at some of the hires that are made and some of the character of some people. So you do backflips when a Mike MacIntyre gets his chance and has success.”
As for the matchup, Spencer said CU’s offense causes problems because of its versatility.
“It’s their balance,” Spencer said. “Anytime you have a strong quarterback run game, it changes the whole dynamics of your schemes, and you always have to account for an extra guy. It limits you in what you can do.
“On the flip side, a lot of teams that maybe don’t have as good of a throwing team or not as good of skilled receivers, but when you throw in their skill set, you can’t gang up on anything they do well. With that balance, they can attack every inch of the field.”