Bu≠s’ coach up against old friend

The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING - By Nick Kos­mider Nick Kos­mider: 303-954-1516, nkos­mider@den­ver­post.com or @nick­kos­mider

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.”

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