Tag Archives: Mike MacIntyre

The Misuse of Title IX in College Football

Colorado defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt is proof that coaches can make the most of second chances. Leavitt helped build the South Florida football program from scratch. In doing so, he led the Bulls to a record of 95-57 from 1997-2009. He was courted by higher profile programs but ultimately decided to remain loyal to the program that had given him his first opportunity as a head coach.

All of that came to end when Leavitt was accused of striking a player in the locker room. This incident resulted in his firing. Much was made of the incident at the time and it was used as justification when some people said he should never coach again.

And for three years after his firing, Leavitt did not coach college football as he spent 2011-2014 as the San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach.

But then Leavitt was given a second chance to coach college football when, in 2015, Colorado head coach Mike Macintyre hired him as his defensive coordinator at Colorado. There may have been a few people who thought it was a questionable hire given what allegedly occurred while Leavitt was at South Florida, but there wasn’t the public outrage that we hear when the possibility of Art Briles coaching again is brought up.

What went on at Baylor and South Florida should not be considered equivalent situations, but the events surrounding the firings of Briles and Leavitt are comparable. Leavitt was accused of punching one of his players while Briles was accused of turning a blind eye to his players sexually assaulting women. Yes, I stand by my assertion that these are comparable but not equivalent situations.

These situations are comparable because each coach allegedly lost control of his program. These situations are not equivalent because Leavitt allegedly lost control of himself and made the decision to allow his actions to become violent. Briles, though, lost control of other people. My point is that Leavitt’s alleged actions were worse than Briles’ alleged actions yet society allowed Leavitt a second chance. And it’s a second chance that I agree with.

So why was Leavitt’s second chance embraced while the thought of a second chance for Briles will have a person shunned? There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first reason is timing. When Leavitt was fired by South Florida, society was much different. We as a society had empathy for others, but we didn’t allow that empathy to be the catalyst for publicly shaming a potentially guilty party. Reason played a much greater role in decision making back in 2009.

The second reason that Leavitt’s second chance was embraced is due to the genders of the alleged assaulted parties combined with the timing of the incident. If Leavitt would have struck a woman, his second chance still would have occurred, but it would have been more harshly scrutinized. We live in a society where a man can be assaulted. Just don’t assault a woman. And that isn’t my way of saying that assaulting a woman should be tolerated. It’s my way of saying that assault is assault regardless of the gender of the victim. Remember, we’re all supposed to be equal.

The elements of timing and gender are being tied together through the misuse of Title IX.  Title IX was never intended to be used as a mechanism to fight against sexual assault. Furthermore, it is stated in that AAUP link that using Title IX in this manner can actually lead to more gender inequality. And that perpetuation of gender inequality is on full display when comparing the alleged misconduct that happened at South Florida and Baylor.

Leavitt was provided with a second chance when he was hired by the 49ers. He seemed to have made the most of that second chance as it resulted in Colorado being comfortable with him being around college players. Leavitt’s success story should be used as an example when contemplating whether or not Briles should coach again.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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Does the Sun Devil Surprise Continue in Colorado?

In every football season there are surprises. A team exceeds expectations or drops off the face of the Earth. Well, don’t tell anybody, but the Arizona State Sun Devils are quietly in the mix for the Pac-12 South division title going into their game with Colorado.

We still have a ways to go in this Pac-12 football season, however, there is a low-key confidence growing among the coaches and the players for the Sun Devils.

What has to happen for Arizona State to pull the surprise and win the Pac-12 South?

First of all, the Sun Devils have to get by an upstart Colorado team this Saturday. This is not going to be an easy thing to do. The Buffaloes have proven to be a team to not overlook. They were up big on a talented Michigan team, beat Oregon in Eugene, and fell just short against the USC Trojans.

The Sun Devils are well aware of how important this game is in terms of the Pac-12 South division. If Arizona State gets this win it’ll put the Devils a game up on Colorado and they will then control their own destiny.

The other aspect that can derail this season for the Sun Devils is injuries, especially at the quarterback position.

Starting quarterback, Manny Wilkins Jr., has been out with injury for the past couple of weeks. He is expected to return for the Colorado game. Being at Sun Devil practice, it is obvious that the coaching staff wants Manny Wilkins Jr. at quarterback on Saturday. Wilkins is going through all the drills that don’t involve contact. His replacement, Brady White, who played admirably in relief two weeks ago against USC is out for the rest of the season due to an injury that occurred last week in the win against UCLA.

If Manny Wilkins Jr. can’t play on Saturday it will be a difficult game for the Sun Devils in Colorado.

The next part of the equation for Arizona State is that leaky faucet defense the Sun Devils have. The Sun Devils have to make stops against Colorado. The defense needs to step up and that might include not relying on the blitz so much.

“The Sun Devils blitz when they walk off the bus. We know we will have some negative plays defending the blitz, but there will be chances for us to take advantage of it.” Said Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre on the weekly Pac-12 conference call.

Blitzing is the bread and butter for the Arizona State defense. Talented teams like Colorado can take advantage of the over aggressive style to make big plays. The Sun Devils bring pressure from every angle to try and confuse the offense. Arizona State gets to the quarterback, but also gives up many big plays with its blitzing.

I believe the Sun Devils need to dial back the aggressive play a bit. With a division title possible you have to play smart and being so aggressive is not always the smartest way to go.

Will the Sun Devils choose to dial the blitz back?

Don’t count on it. Coaches have a style that suits them. This is the style of Coach Graham.

I believe the Sun Devils will have Manny Wilkins Jr. at quarterback on Saturday, but how effective can Wilkins be coming off of injury? Colorado will be coming after Wilkins and if Colorado can get him out of the game, it’s game over for the Sun Devils.

When the clock runs out on Saturday, I believe the Colorado Buffaloes will be the victors. Colorado doesn’t have as many questions heading into this game, in my opinion. Buffaloes win, 45-28.

E-mail Mike at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @pigskinopinion.

Image: Wikipedia

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Pac-12 Links: South Division Questions for the Summer

The Pac-12 South division is widely considered one of the toughest in the country. It has had some pretty good teams in the past couple of seasons, but are there any real great teams in this division? Not as far as I can see. The South division does have three returning quarterbacks to help their teams possibly get to the Pac-12 Championship Game, but not the College Football Playoff. Even after spring practice there are lingering questions about teams in the Pac-12 South. Let’s take a look at what some of those questions might be.

Arizona

Down in Tucson, can Rich Rodriguez have an offensive line that will be able to keep Anu Solomon healthy and off of his back? Will Solomon be able to develop into a Marcus Mariota type of quarterback that he was thought to be a couple seasons ago? Right now, Anu Solomon’s only concern should be learning to stay away from the injury bug. Whether it’s been knee/leg injuries or concussions, Solomon has to keep himself in the lineup or the season will be a tough road for the Wildcats.

Defense wins championships, right? Well, for the Wildcats, the defense is getting a major overhaul this upcoming season. New DC Marcel Yates is rearranging the defense for the Wildcats. He ran a 4-2-5 defense at Boise State and has head coach Rich Rodriguez willing to stray from his 3-3-5 defense. What will we see during the season?  The Wildcats only had two practices that were open to media, so for right now you have to think that it’ll be some hybrid between the two defenses.

Arizona has to improve its protection so that Anu Solomon and running back Nick Wilson can stay healthy. In my opinion, Wilson is the player to watch for the Wildcats. Keep your eye on him.

Utah

When you lose Devontae Booker and Travis Wilson in the same year, things may not be looking good for your team. Last year Utah was my sleeper pick to win the division and get to the conference championship game. It was looking good until the injury bug hit the team, especially stud running back Devontae Booker. Once he went down, the season went with him.

Replacing Travis Wilson will be something the Utes have to do. Do the Utes know who the new quarterback will be? That is something that is still up in the air in Salt Lake. Head coach Kyle Whittingham has stated that the quarterback race is still a “dead heat”.

One of the interesting facts about this race is that one of the big contenders for the job, junior transfer Troy Williams, was held out of spring practices and the spring game for an injury. In the meantime, junior Brandon Cox and freshman Tyler Huntley were getting all the reps, but couldn’t separate themselves to take the quarterback job.

Replacing Devontae Booker won’t be as complicated because they already had a player in waiting to be the main back. His name Joe Williams. When Booker went down with a season ending knee injury Williams was there to take over.

“It was sad when Devontae went down. It just made me the next man up and I just did what I had to do.” Williams said during spring practice.

Let’s hope he keeps that next man up mentality because the Utes need him to be the next man for them.

Colorado

What can be said with the Colorado football program? We all know the narrative about how the program has not had any success since joining the Pac-12 Conference. Is this the year they have some sort of breakthrough?

The thought process coming out of Boulder is that this is the year for the Buffaloes. Am I going to drink that Koo-Aid? Not until they show me that they can get it done. For me, getting it done is simply getting to the six-win level, so they can potentially get to a lower-tier bowl.

What will determine the Buffs success in 2016?

One of the items that will is the play of starting quarterback Sefo Liufau and if he can come back from his injury. Liufau has a lisfranc injury which is an injury to his foot, always a difficult thing for any athlete to come back from. As good fortune would have it, he was seen up and throwing on the sidelines during the Colorado spring game.

Not having an experienced quarterback on your team can be a recipe for disaster. Colorado absolutely needs its starter to be ready to go by the season opener.

USC

Clay Helton is looking for his team to be drama-free in 2016. Good luck with that Coach Helton. You are in control of one of the premier college football programs in this country and the program is centered in the entertainment capital of the world. Good luck.

With that said, there will always be some sort of drama surrounding any football program and USC is no different, but there are different types of drama. I’m sure Helton is referring to drama that is on the level of what they have had with Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. That kind of drama is something I would not wish on any coach.

So far, the only drama that is coming out of USC is who they will have to replace Cody Kessler who has to spend his rookie year in the NFL in Cleveland.

What are the options for Coach Helton and his staff?

For now, the option is Max Browne, who getting the opportunity in his junior year after sitting behind Cody Kessler since he arrived on campus as National Player of the Year in high school. He may have all the talent in the world, but he still has not taken a snap in a meaningful game. His meaningful game is coming soon for him. He will be taking the snaps as the Trojans open up against national champion Alabama.

Nothing like being thrown to the wolves right out of the gate.

Having JuJu Smith-Schuster on the outside will help Browne. JuJu is arguably the best receiver in the country heading into 2016 and if he can produce at the level he has then he will take a bunch of pressure off of his quarterback. The connection between Max Browne and JuJu will be something to watch as the season gets going.

The question on the defensive line will be something that people will be concentrating on as we get closer to the Alabama game. New defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has to figure out how his D-line will get pressure on its opponents. Otherwise, he will find himself in the unemployment line. Doing that will be tough considering what he has to work with at USC.

The defensive line is extremely inexperienced this year with no returning starters and the only player that was penciled in as a starter, Kenny Bigelow, went down with a season-ending knee injury during spring practice, so that further complicates things for Pendergast.

Does USC overcome this youth movement and the toughest schedule in the country to make 2016 a winning season? Time will tell, but my feeling is that if the Trojans get to eight wins that would be considered a victory unto itself.

Image: Creative Commons

Pac-12 Links: The Conference of Quarterback Battles

Once again it’s time to see what is happening in the Conference of Champions with its football teams. There are plenty of things happening with these Pac-12 teams with spring ball, quarterback issues, and not having satellite camps, which to me is just ridiculous. Who cares where these kids practice or where these recruits get to be seen. Anyway, let’s get into the Pac-12.

In Tucson, head coach Rich Rodriguez has to answer to questions about his ability to get his team back to winning the South division. He can get a little irritated when questioned about it, but he says it’ll turn around in 2016.

“We got more questions now than in our first year.” Said Rodriguez heading into spring practices.

He absolutely does. He has a returning quarterback in Anu Solomon, but is Solomon going to be healthy enough to endure the season?

At Arizona State, Todd Graham is looking for a new quarterback after Mike Bercovici graduated. He has to decide between three guys, but in reality to me it’s down to two. I believe the job is between Manny Wilkins and Bryce Perkins. What do I know though? Based on what I have seen at practice, those are the two that I would be looking at to lead the team in 2016. Coach Graham and new OC Chip Lindsey have a big decision because the Sun Devils can not have another season like last year or an up and down year from the quarterback position again.

What’s happening for California right now? Quarterback/safety Luke Rubenzer asked to be permanently placed at safety after seeing he was falling behind in the race to replace Jared Goff at quarterback. It was matter of seeing the writing on the wall for Rubenzer who came to Berkeley from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. According to head coach Sonny Dykes, Rubenzer is whatever he can to help the team in the long run, but it’s also a good move for Rubenzer because projected starting safety Damariay Drew will be undergoing knee surgery in about two weeks.

Colorado wants to break through in 2016 and has more talent than it’s had in recent years, but is it enough to spring ahead of teams like ASU, Arizona, or even Utah? I know they are trying to build something in Colorado, but can it be done in the Pac-12 South? With coach MacIntyre now having a full recruiting cycle in his fourth year, fans want some results and that includes just not being competitive. Everything in football starts up front and the inexperience on the O-line is something to be addressed by the staff. Time to work that out in spring ball.

Oregon is just happy to have all their quarterbacks on campus at this point. In the long run that will only benefit the high flying Duck offense. People may think there will be questions at the quarterback position, but they are not bringing in Dakota Prukop, a graduate transfer, to sit on the bench. What it calls into question for me is their ability to develop young quarterbacks. At some point they will have to develop some young quarterback, so there is a bit more stability over a longer period of time for the Duck offense.

Meanwhile down on The Farm at Stanford, things are getting a little testy with head coach David Shaw or I should say that people are getting a little testy with Shaw’s comments about the recent ban on satellite camps and his veiled reference to SEC academics or lack of academics. To me, coach Shaw is spot on with what he is saying. He’s not hiding that the facts back him up. Stanford graduates 90 percent of its football players, while the SEC doesn’t even come close to that. Vanderbilt graduates 70 percent of its players and that leads the SEC. While these SEC fans get all bent out of shape about this, Shaw just sits behind the data. Don’t back down coach Shaw, you are right.

At USC, there is an intense quarterback situation brewing and it may not be over for the Trojans. The competition has boiled down to two guys. Max Browne, who was thought by many to slide into the spot left by Cody Kessler, has been pushed by redshirt freshman Sam Darnold. As a result of this competition, head coach Clay Helton has yet to name a starter which leads many to believe that this quarterback job may be open through fall camp. This is an important decision for Helton because this may set the table for the next few years for the program and the sooner a starter is named, the sooner the offense can get in rhythm for the Alabama game at the beginning of next season.

E-mail Mike at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @pigskinopinion.

Image: Google

Pac-12 Coaching and Player Changes

The season is over and now the changes to coaching staffs and player personnel happen that can alter the fortunes of many programs for the upcoming season. There has been plenty of turnover for many schools in the Pac-12 Conference. Which ones will pay immediate dividends? Which ones will take time? All great questions, but one of the things that the Pac-12 has going for it is that many coaches and players want to be part of the conference because of its competitive nature and its exciting brand of football. Let’s look at these changes.

Pac-12 North

California

The coaching changes almost happened at the top of the coaching staff with Sonny Dykes. It seemed like Dykes was interviewing for any open job in college football and had no interest in returning to Berkley. In the end, he returned, with a new contract, more money, and gives the football team stability with his return. The big personnel change will be with Jared Goff leaving for the NFL. Goff arguably the best quarterback in the conference in 2015 will be a very tough player to replace because of his mental and physical abilities that he brought to the table for California, but that responsibility looks like it will be thrown upon freshman Chase Forrest. The Bears made a bowl for the first time in years and to maintain this positive roll for the program Sonny Dykes needs make sure Chase Forrest is the quarterback for the program moving forward. The quarterback position will be the biggest question for the Golden Bears going into 2016.

Stanford

Finishing third in the final poll of the season was a great accomplishment for David Shaw, his staff, and players. What David Shaw has done since he took over is amazing. He is getting great talent combined with having a “Stanford intelligence” to come to Palo Alto to play football. Going into next year there isn’t a lot of turnover with the coaching staff at all. Why leave a good thing, right? However, on the player personnel side, they will be missing Barry Sanders Jr and Kevin Hogan. They will also be missing some possible linemen as well. Michael Rector, Cardinal receiver will be coming back for his fifth and final year of eligibility. Replacing Hogan will be a big task for Head Coach David Shaw, but let’s remember, he still has Christian McCaffrey. When you have him, it’ll make the job of the quarterback a little more bearable, but much like California, the quarterback question will be a big one for the Cardinal.

Oregon

Questions abound in Eugene. After the debacle of the Alamo Bowl in which the Ducks lost a 31-0 lead and lost in overtime people are wondering if the Duck run of success is over. Other people are wondering if they can develop a quarterback in the post-Mariota era at Oregon. Vernon Adams comes in, does a decent job, but gets injured and his back up, Jeff Lockie stinks up the stadium with his play. Lockie, a career back up at Oregon, looked like he hadn’t been taught the game at all. Once again, the Ducks have a fifth year transfer player in Dakota Prukop this year and he’s already on campus taking classes, so there will be no Vernon Adams issues in terms of classes. Enter new quarterbacks coach David Yost, who comes over from Washington State to help develop Duck quarterbacks. Other changes also are former Michigan Coach Brady Hoke who will be the new defensive coordinator replacing Don Pellum who was moved to linebackers coach. All in all, a season of change is upon the Oregon Ducks. How will it go? Only time will tell.

Oregon State

The Beavers will be looking to improve upon their disaster of a season in 2015 where they only had two wins under first year coach Gary Andersen. The coaching change at defensive coordinator will be the one area that could garner most of the discussion going into 2016. Kalani Sitake left Corvallis for the head coaching position at BYU, so Coach Andersen went and got Kevin Clune to take over at defensive coordinator. New schemes, new way of thinking for a defense that ranked near the bottom in defense in the country. The Beavers will also have co-offensive coordinators in T.J. Woods and Kevin McGiven. Once again, new schemes and new ways of thinking on the offensive side of the ball. The Beavers need to continuity and stability on both sides of the ball and hopefully after all this change it happens for them. Coach Anderson will have to give the fans something more than two wins to get excited about. It’ll be tough, but Coach Andersen is committed to bringing a winner to Oregon State and I, for one, believe he can do it.

Washington State

For all the talk about the demise of Mike Leach, it may have been greatly exaggerated. Washington State was the surprise team in the Pac-12 by a wide margin and ended the year with a great win over Miami in the Sun Bowl. Changes are occurring in the Palouse for Leach and his staff though. David Yost, left to coach the quarterbacks at Oregon, JaMarcus Shepard comes from Western Kentucky to coach receivers, Dave Nichol is added to the receiver coaching staff as well, and they will get a graduate transfer from Michigan in Logan Tuley-Tillman who will provide immediate help to the offensive line. Mike Leach has to keep the positive vibe going with the program because the hot seat he may have been on can be repeated with a disappointing season in 2016. The Cougars will be one of the few teams in the Pac-12 to have a returning quarterback in Luke Falk, so that will not be the question. The question is can the coaching staff build upon 2015 with creating more depth and getting more talent to come out to Wazzu.

Washington

Washington also showed that they could be on the way up as well. Head Coach Chris Peterson was starting to hear the complaints and he actually turned in a season that Husky fans were fairly happy with. Peterson came from Boise State with that reputation as an offensive guru and really has yet to deliver on that. Like his rival at Washington State, Peterson will have a returning quarterback in Jake Browning. The Huskies will also have a returning running back in Myles Gaskin that has the speed of Reggie Bush and a returning offensive line that showed promise in 2015. The Huskies will not experience major changes in their coaching staff or their player personnel for 2016 and that has created a sense of optimism around the program. The defense was pretty good despite losing some major talent to the NFL and they will continue to get better and the offense showed by the end of the year that they would be considered more of strength than a liability going into next season.

Pac-12 South

Arizona

A season of disappointment happened for the Arizona Wildcats in 2015 and headed into next season there are plenty of questions. Will Rich Rodriguez be the head coach long term for Arizona? He had discussions with South Carolina about their opening and it certainly caused nervous moments in Tucson for a few days. Is Anu Solomon going to be their quarterback? He suffered through injuries and just a bad season when he was playing. Who will replace future NFL draft pick Scooby Wright on the defensive side of the ball? Wright created some much mayhem on opposing offenses, it’s going to be tough finding a guy that has a motor like Wright. Coaching changes abound for the Cats. Rich Rod has let defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel go, defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich go, and cornerbacks coach David Lockwood go. By doing this he has to replace three fourths of his defensive staff. The Wildcat defense has become worse of the last three seasons and a change was needed in Tucson. Who will Rich Rodriguez get to come in? Good question, but they have to do something to return to the “Desert Swarm” days.

Arizona State

Where do I begin with the Sun Devils? A season of huge expectations came crashing down quickly and they were regulated to a very second/third tier bowl game in the Cactus Bowl against West Virginia. A game that they lost, which just put a disappointing stamp on the season. Offensive coordinator Mike Norvell left to be the head coach at Memphis and he took a few coaches with him. Chip Lindsey was hired as the new offensive coordinator for the Devils and he brings the same type of offense that Todd Graham likes to run which is that zone-read/spread offense. Kodi Burns was brought in to coach the running backs and he brings a wealth of knowledge from Auburn. The Sun Devils will also have to replace Mike Bercovici at quarterback and D.J. Foster at running back/wide receiver. Replacing that experience and talent will be a question facing the Arizona State going into 2016 as well as the coaching additions that the Devils will have.

Utah

Utah was the team I was pushing for winning the conference this past season. It was going well until a day against USC pretty much ruined everything and they ended up in the Las Vegas Bowl playing BYU. This may be a season of transition for the Utes, they will have questions at quarterback, punter, and running back because Travis Wilson, Tom Hackett and Devontae Booker are gone. What will Kyle Whittingham do? Oh, just reload with a bunch of players that have chips on their shoulders because bigger programs were not interested. That is what Whittingham has built his program on and he is getting a nice little pipeline of players coming from the island of Samoa too. As far as coaching changes, he recently named Justin Ena and Sharrieff Shah as special teams co-coordinators, which seems a little odd to have dual coordinators for special teams, but it’s what Utah does. Most of the coaching changes for the Utes have stayed within the program, only one of the changes comes from outside the program and that is Guy Holliday who comes from BYU to coach the receivers. The main questions will be who will be the quarterback and running back for the Utes? We shall see, but one thing is for certain, the Utes will be a tough out for any team.

Colorado

Colorado could be the Washington State of 2016 for the Pac-12, but then again, it’s Colorado. A lot of young talent that made life interesting for a lot of conference teams this past year, but could not quite get over the hump in terms of wins. Head Coach Mike MacIntyre has had a bit of a fixer-up project since he arrived in Boulder three seasons ago. Coaching changes have been minimal, but the one hire that stands out is Jim Leavitt who will be the defensive coordinator for the Buffaloes. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from both the college and professional level. That is nice upgrade for the coaching staff. What do they have to do for 2016? Is the head coach on the hot seat? The answer to those questions is win and no, for right now. The Buffs just can’t get the talent to come to Colorado and when they do it’s because of a connection through family or others that gets the talent to Boulder. When you don’t win, talent does not come to you. They will have junior quarterback Sefo Liufau who has got better every year he’s been there, but the talent around him has not been the best for him. Right now if you can stop Sefo, you stop Colorado. If Colorado can’t get better and win, they will not have any success in the very tough Pac-12.

USC

The Trojans are the Pac-12’s version of a soap opera in recent years. With removing the interim tag from Clay Helton and making him the head coach, that removed some of the doubt from the program with coaching. Helton wasted no time in making sweeping changes to the Trojan staff. Helton has promoted Tee Martin to offensive coordinator, brought on Clancy Pendergast as the new defensive coordinator, and recently brought on Tommie Robinson as running backs coach. It’s not all the change, but these were the major ones for the Trojans. It’ll be Martin’s first chance to run an offense and he’ll have plenty of weapons to use. Adoree’ Jackson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, a young offensive line, and a good running game. The question Tee Martin will have is at quarterback. Cody Kessler is gone, so this will be a major question for the Trojans for 2016. Helton will also be a question mark as well because he wasn’t the big name, big splash hire that many alumni wanted. Helton also didn’t endear himself to the faithful by losing to a Nebraska team that had a losing record. The talent is there, but can the new coaching staff put USC back on the map and at the top of the college football world?

UCLA

The Bruins were a trendy pick to win the Pac-12 Conference and to make it to the college football playoff. That didn’t happen. Bruins on losing talent on both sides of the ball. From running back Paul Perkins, defensive lineman Kenny Clark, Myles Jack, to wide receiver Thomas Duarte there is plenty of talent that Head Coach Jim Mora is going to have to replace with another stellar recruiting class. Josh Rosen is back for his sophomore season and he has all the skills to be a great quarterback, even a Heisman Trophy candidate at some point in his career at UCLA. Coaching changes are certainly happening for the Bruins. Mora promoted Kennedy Polamalu to offensive coordinator, brought Marques Tuiasosopo from USC to coach quarterbacks, and Rip Scherer will coach tight ends. People feared that the “Bruin Revolution” may be over, but with these hires fans are backing off of that thought. The big question for me will be the offensive line. Josh Rosen can’t perform any magic if he is getting hit all day, so the offensive line play is going to have to improve for the Bruins to do any damage next season.

All in all, there are plenty of questions for the Pac-12 heading into 2016 with coaches and players. What will we see? Hard to say in January, but as a fan of the conference let’s hope that coaches and players get things figured out, so the conference can return to the college football playoff and remind people that some of the best football is played out here in the West.

Pac-12 Review and Thoughts on the Future

The Pac-12 season is in the books for 2015, so what was the good, the bad, and the ugly about this season. From the drama at USC, the play of Josh Rosen, Gary Andersen’s first year at Oregon State, Vernon Adams at Oregon, the surprise of Washington State, Jared Goff’s career at California, the success at Utah, the splendid season at Stanford, and the phenomenal individual season of Christian McCaffrey. There is a lot to digest this year for The Conference of Champions, so here we go.

Pac-12 South

USC

The soap opera that is the USC Trojans made expectations just about impossible to meet. We all know what happened with former Head Coach Steve Sarkisian and his drinking issues. That was certainly the headline for a couple of months surrounding the program. It was ugly, real ugly. In comes newly minted Head Coach Clay Helton and proceeds to put his stamp on the storied program of Troy. He goes 5-2 as the head coach, gets the interim “tag” taken off, and then loses in the Holiday Bowl against a sub .500 Nebraska team. Not a great way to start the Clay Helton era, but with the amount of talent that is already on the roster, USC will look to build off of the bit of success that they had in 2015. I will be looking for the Trojans young talent to mature in the offseason and pay dividends in 2016. Fight On!

UCLA

Is there a team that plays in a better venue than the Bruins? Doubtful. When your home field is the Rose Bowl stadium that is a huge recruiting tool for the school. When did that advantage do for the Bruins? Hard to tell at this point. They are fortunate to have Josh Rosen, the top rated high school quarterback on their squad. Being a little lucky to see Rosen play in person, I could see the flash of brilliance that this young QB has. Having Rosen back for his sophomore year will help the Bruins, but it also puts a big target on his back for next season. One area that will be in question will be running back because multi-talented running back Paul Perkins is taking his talent to the NFL. Who is going to replace the 1,500 yard seasons that Perkins put up for the Bruins? Plus, who will the Bruins bring in to replace offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone? I believe the Bruins can recruit players to replace these players, but it will be interesting to see how fast this young talent can assimilate themselves in Westwood. Expectations are high with a young, stud quarterback, and the fan base won’t put up with many losses.

Utah

A season of great success ended with a rather big dud by the Utes going to the Las Vegas Bowl to play their hated rival in BYU. Kyle Whittingham has built something quietly in Salt Lake City and with this past season’s success it will fun to see if Whittingham can keep this going because he will be losing some pretty good talent on both sides of the ball. Travis Wilson and Devontae Booker are just some of the talent that will be leaving. Losing Booker late in the year affected how the offense ran and gave us a decent precursor to how this offense may look in 2016. Internally, the Ute’s have shuffled things around a bit by naming Morgan Scalley their new defensive coordinator. They also have added Justin Ena and Sharrieff Shah as co-special teams coordinators. The key for the Utes will be to keep the stream of talent coming into Salt Lake City to keep the Utes competitive in the ultra-competitive Pac-12 South. They need to get a quarterback that can throw the ball down field. Travis Wilson was an average quarterback, so they need a guy that strikes fear into opposing defenses. Building upon this season will be critical for the Utes. Let’s watch and see what happens in recruiting for them this offseason. That can tell us a great deal about the viability of the program moving forward.

Arizona

Things went south on 2014’s Pac-12 South champion in 2015 and injuries were a major player in the decline. Scooby Wright, the national defensive player of the year in 2014 was brought down early in the season and never returned, their quarterback Anu Solomon suffered through injuries, and their running back Nick Wilson could never shake the injury bug. Now, leaning on injuries as the crutch for the season is never something you want to do, but in the fourth season of Rich Rodriguez in Tucson this was something that clearly wasn’t expected. What can they expect moving forward? Well, they can expect Rich Rodriguez to possibly entertain other jobs like he did with the South Carolina opening this past December. With that lurking in the background in Tucson, can the fans truly trust Rich Rod? It makes fans and writers question his commitment to the program and this can adversely affect off season recruiting because if possible recruits don’t think Rodriguez will be there long term who is to say that the Pac-12 South crown they won will be the best it gets for the program. The Wildcats need a healthy Anu Solomon and Nick Wilson to compete, so this offseason will be critical to them and to the health of the program. Losing Scooby Wright to the NFL will hurt the defense as well. Who will replace the mayhem and sacks that Wright provided? There are more questions than certainty with this program right now and those questions need answers that will only come in time. It’ll be a nervous offseason for the fans of the Wildcats.

Arizona State

Pre-season people, myself included, thought that this Sun Devil team could do something incredible this past season. Well, that thought went down the toilet in the first few games of the year. The offense went into slow motion and could never get started in time to completely dominate anybody. They struggled with teams like New Mexico and Cal-Poly which made the fan base boo the team practically anytime struggles were noticed on the field. Personally watching them get destroyed by USC was mind blowing. The Sun Devils looked like a freshman high school team against them and then they go on the road on beat UCLA at the Rose Bowl. Talk about a hot and cold team. The 2015 Sun Devils were the classic definition of that term. The upcoming season will be one of questions. They will have a new offensive coordinator who will be looking for a new quarterback to run Todd Graham’s zone-read type of offense. They had the wrong guy to do that with Mike Bercovici and that was some of the issue this year. Bercovici was guy who liked to go downfield, he was more of gun slinger than a mobile quarterback. They need to have the right personnel to do what they want to do. That’s the key for any football team. Let’s see what Graham and his merry band of Sun Devils can provide for their fans in 2016. Forks Up.

Colorado

What can the Buffaloes do to get out of the basement of the Pac-12 South? Beyond the simple answer of just win more games it’s hard to say. Winning does help, but you have to have the talent to win those games. The question will be about getting that talent to help the Buffs climb out of the Pac-12 South cellar. The Buffaloes are nearly 25 years from their early 1990’s dominance and without any semblance of winning in that time it is no wonder why kids of any talent level are not going to Boulder to play football. Winning gets talent. Period. If you don’t have wins or a recent history of winning, players want nothing to do with you and that is currently being proven out by Colorado being ranked last in the Pac-12 in recruiting by Rivals.com. In the end, Colorado has to recruit better or their spot at the bottom of the Pac-12 Conference will be cemented every year.

Pac-12 North

Oregon

If you are down by 31 to the Ducks you are still in the game. Giving up that 31 point lead to TCU in the Alamo Bowl had to be the low point in the Duck 2015 season, but it did show a glaring question for the Ducks. Can the Duck offensive staff develop a quarterback of their own? I’m not sure they can. The Ducks have another 5th graduate transfer coming to play for them in 2016. Montana State transfer Dakota Prukop is already on campus and enrolled in class unlike the dilemma the Vernon Adams caused the team last summer. Who is behind Prukop that could come in and provide the same thing as him? A bunch of unknown players is what the Ducks have. They will have many of their skill players back, but if there is any instability at quarterback the Ducks are in trouble. That’ll be the question for newly hired Dave Yost, who comes from Washington State to coach the quarterbacks. He has his work cut out for him. It’ll be the major thing to watch in Eugene next season.

Stanford

The season started off ugly with that loss at Northwestern and many questioned if the Cardinal season was over after week one. I doubt Head Coach David Shaw did. He just went to work and figured out what he needed to do to get this team rolling. It turned out that all he needed to do was to get Christian McCaffrey involved in about every part of the offense. Once that happened, things started happening in Palo Alto. McCaffrey had the best single season in total yards ever. I had my eye on this player going into the season and he exceeded every expectation I had for him. The downside was the crushing home loss to Oregon that pretty much kept them out of the college football playoff, but they rebounded and beat Notre Dame and made Iowa look pedestrian in the Rose Bowl. The question I have for the Cardinal is at quarterback and their defense. Kevin Hogan is done and like Oregon have many unknown players behind him. The defense, especially the secondary needs to improve. People could throw on the Cardinal all day and to survive in the pass happy Pac-12, that needs to tighten up.

Washington State

The surprise of the conference by far. I thought they would battle Oregon State for last place in the Pac-12 North. I was way off with that. The Cougars finally got things going with their “Air Raid” offense under Mike Leach. Luke Falk who looked bad against Portland State in the opener as the Cougars lost to a regional foe at home, but came back to lead Washington State to an 8-4 record and raised hopes in Pullman about a comeback for this program. Mike Leach and his team have to come into 2016 and have the attitude of improving on their 2015 record. They will have Falk back as well as plenty of fast, quick skill players. If this doesn’t happen though, Leach goes back on the hot seat with his job.

California

Is Sonny Dykes going to stay long term? Dykes had his name mentioned in other jobs like Missouri and South Carolina and that caused some anxious moments for people in the Bay Area. Will this type of job looking affect the talent that they are trying to recruit? If players think the coach won’t be there, they tend not to show up on campus. The other question will be about who will take over at quarterback. Jared Goff is leaving early for the NFL and certainly Sonny Dykes has benefitted from having a great player under center. This will show me how good of a coach he really is. Can he develop the next quarterback? Does he have a quarterback ready for 2016? California needs to continue this play of getting to a bowl game and getting some much needed winning at Berkley. If they can’t, their hated rival at Stanford will continue to grab all the headlines and the Golden Bears will be an afterthought on the football field.

Washington

What do we have at Washington? We have a program with a storied past, but with a mediocre present. The future is looking up with their quarterback Jake Browning, who will be a true sophomore and Myles Gaskin, who will also be a true sophomore, and reminds me of Reggie Bush with his speed. Head Coach Chris Peterson, who came to Seattle with his reputation at Boise State has seemed to turn the corner with this program. That reputation was called into question with the season opening loss to Peterson’s former school Boise State, but ship was corrected. Here is the question though. Can he continue to recruit the guys that fit his style? If the Huskies can continue to win, the talent will come. Browning and Gaskin have to continue to develop and get better and there is no reason to believe they won’t, the sky is the limit for the 2016 version of the Washington Huskies.

Oregon State

Where do I begin with the Beavers? It’s hard to say because there are so many glaring issues for them going into this off season. The low point for Oregon State was getting blown out on a weekly basis and not seeing any improvement. When Mike Riley left for Nebraska, he left the cupboards pretty bare. The Beavers had a decent offensive line, but a true freshman quarterback, an oft injured running back in Storm Woods and a totally new defense. They had to replace nine players on defense, put in a new defensive scheme, a new offensive scheme, get used to a different way of coaching with Head Coach Gary Andersen. It was a struggle in Corvallis this year. Recruiting is a big key for Andersen and his staff this year, so the losing that happened this year doesn’t become a habit for the Beavers. Questions for the Beavers will be at quarterback again because they started putting Seth Collins at receiver because he’s athletic and tall (6’3). Who will come in to play quarterback if they move Collins to receiver full time? They will also have a new defensive coordinator in Kevin Clune, so more new schemes for those young defensive players to learn. Gary Andersen needs to continue to build the program he wants and the fans need to show patience with this huge rebuilding project. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Pac-12 Notebook: The Season Begins

The college football season has finally arrived for its fans. The last week or so has seemed like it has been dragging with all the anticipation of the 2015 season. What will we see? What are expectations for the Pac-12 fans? Who will win the conference title? Those are all good questions that Pac-12 fans have already been asking and will continue to ask as we progress throughout the regular season. Thursday night was the kickoff for the season. Did we learn anything yet? Let’s take a look.

Utah

Utah came into the game with Michigan as a prohibitive favorite, but not the team with all the publicity. I think Jim Harbaugh sucked all the air out of people and their ability to talk about the Utah Utes and the quality team that they have assembled. When head coach Kyle Whittingham was asked about all the hype and if he was glad it’s over, he responded by saying, “So glad you can’t believe it. … it was wearing me out, all the hype.” What did Utah show us? Once again they showed us that their defense is pretty stout, not perfect, but pretty solid. The four defensive linemen did get some push up field against the Michigan O-line, however, the one thing I saw was quickness. The Utes had guys flying to ball and refusing to be blocked on several occasions. If the Ute defense can continue to do this and work out some of the problems that they had Thursday night, look out Pac-12 Conference.

The one flaw that I saw in Utah last year was the play of their quarterback Travis Wilson. He was average at best last year and even lost his starting position to his backup. My question going into the Michigan game as well as any other game this year is/was, can Wilson provide a much needed balance to the offense, so that teams aren’t just loading “the box” to stop Devontae Booker. For one night, the answer was yes. Travis Wilson totaled 208 yards passing and another 53 yards running. “I just felt comfortable out there,” Wilson said after the game. He looked extremely comfortable out there. I will be very interested to see if Wilson can continue this type of play on a consistent basis.

The balance was there last night for Utah and the rest of the country saw a team that is going to surprise nobody, especially in the tough Pac-12 Conference. The Utah Utes put the rest of the Pac-12 on notice last night.

Colorado

A lot of talk was coming out of Boulder about how this was going to be the year that Colorado finally turned the corner and became a team that was not the conference doormat anymore. Well, the jury just may still be out on that thought. Colorado opened its season in the islands against Hawaii. Now, that isn’t too bad of a place to be at any time of the year, but this was a business trip gone bad for the Buffs.

Like I said, it was supposed to be a coming out party for Colorado. It didn’t happen that way. This was a sloppy game literally until the end of the game. The Buffaloes were trying to get the ball spotted at the end of the game, they had no timeouts, the clock was running, and the ball was bounced off of players’ heads as the officials tried to spot the ball. A complete disaster for Head Coach Mike MacIntyre and his staff because Colorado was talking bowl game this year. This put that thought in jeopardy to say the least. They have to get to 7 wins to become bowl eligible, so coming out of the non-conference part of the schedule 4-0 was crucial. That’s not happening now. Where do they go from here? For a program mired in the mud and competing in the toughest division in college football (Pac-12 South), it’s a setback that might be tough to recover from with such a young, inexperienced team. Colorado has to win their next 3 games to make the bowl game thought somewhat realistic, but right now this island experience may just cause their season to end up like a pig at luau. Cooked.

Oregon State gets started today, taking on Weber State in Corvallis. The rest of the conference gets rolling on Saturday. The football season is a marathon, not a sprint, but fans will treat it like a sprint. Sit back and enjoy what could be the most interesting season in college football history. I know I will.

E-mail Mike Wilson at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @pigskinopinion.

Pac-12 Notebook: Arizona, Oregon State, and Colorado

Arizona: Welcome to the team that won the Pac-12 South last season, but who is getting no love from the pre-season prognosticators in terms of repeating with another South title. Why? Good question. Being in Tucson, a great college town, but not next to any major city does hurt them with national recognition. Two, besides Head Coach Rich Rodriguez, can anybody name a starter on either side of the ball? Some people might be able to say Scooby Wright or maybe, MAYBE Anu Solomon, but most wouldn’t in my honest opinion. While their hated rival in Arizona State, USC, and UCLA garner most of the attention with the division, the Wildcats are quietly going about their business of preparing for the upcoming season. That’s just how they like it at Arizona. They are not going to beat their chests, they will just go to work and get ready to smack teams around for the 2015 season. Don’t sleep on this version of the Cats. If you do, you may be missing out on an extremely talented team.

The three headed monster of Anu Solomon (QB), Nick Wilson (RB), and Cayleb Jones (WR) form a talented “Big 3” for the Wildcats. Each of these players is going to have to learn how to get better to close the deal this year and possibly win the South or even the Pac-12 title. Scooby Wright is the All-American who came out of nowhere and won the Butkus Award for the best linebacker in the country last season. For the Wildcats to crash the party again, the maturity and experience that they gained last season will have to continue this year.

There is talent here in Tucson. People inside the Pac-12 and in Tucson know that, it may be time that the rest of the country gets acquainted with what Rich Rod is doing down in the desert. To be beat the Cats, it’s going to take a complete team effort by the opposition. As I said earlier, do not sleep on Arizona. You just may regret it.

Oregon State: There are many story lines in Corvallis, but I’m going to concentrate on the quarterback battle and defense. Head Coach Gary Andersen has many things to decide in the next few weeks, but probably the biggest is who going to start under center for the Beavers. One thing is for certain, it’s going to be a freshman. As of right now, the race looks like it is down to a couple of candidates. Seth Collins, freshman quarterback, seems like the most likely candidate right now. He can run, he can throw, and he’s a very athletic player. However, there is another quarterback challenging for the starting position and that player is Marcus McMaryion whose development has come as a surprise to many. In the last scrimmage, McMaryion’s play stood out and has certainly opened the eyes of the coaches and now the race to be the starting Beaver quarterback is a legitimate two man race.

Defense in Corvallis will be something that the fans are just going to have to have patience with. New DC Kalani Sitake, who was the DC at Utah last season will be installing a 3-4 defense and will be replacing just about everybody on the defense from last season. It’s going to be a chore for Sitake to stop the high powered offenses in the Pac-12, so the fans are going to have to give him and the player’s time to adapt to the new schemes. Sitake likes to be aggressive with pressure from all angles and with a new defensive scheme for the players, can he be as aggressive as he has been in the past? Does he dial it back a bit and let his players learn and get better as the season goes on, and slowly dial up the pressure as the players develop during the season? Whatever he decides, it’s going to be fun to watch what the Beavers can do to stop all the offenses in the conference.

Colorado: In Boulder, Colorado there is optimism. Optimism that hasn’t been there in a very long time. Head Coach Mike MacIntyre has been talking about making “the turn” this season because of the experience gained during last season. He’s even talking bowl games. Whoa… what did he say? Bowl games? Yes, bowl games for the Colorado Buffaloes is what the coach is discussing for the team. Why he is talking about the postseason? Well, in part, because his players are and have the confidence that they can do something like that in 2015. “I can talk about it with this team because they believe it.” Said MacIntyre recently at the team’s media day.

The team really believes in themselves because of how close they were last season in terms of getting some big wins. They took UCLA down to the wire last season and were within 5 points or less on a few occasions last season, so the team took that as confidence for this season. The Buffs lost to Utah by four points and lost to California in double overtime by three points. Looking at the narrow losses that they had in 2014, it’s easy to see why the players have this type of bravado about going to a bowl.

The issue that they have is that they are in arguably the best division in college football. The Pac-12 South, where 5 out of the 6 teams went to a bowl game last year and all of them are returning most of their talent and have gathered other talent to come to their respective schools, so they have just as much depth, if not more, than Colorado. It’s a tough road ahead of them, but the confidence beaming from Boulder is not going unnoticed.

Colorado Buffaloes: Why the Decline?

College football programs go through ebbs and flows as they go through season after season. Some years are better than others, but sometimes the program falls off the proverbial cliff and is not relevant again or for a very long time. The University of Colorado football program has fallen off that cliff the last 10 years and is some serious danger of not being relevant again. Why has this happened to them? How did it happen to them? Possibilities abound in Boulder, where they want the program to come back to what it was in the past.

When I was a youngster and watched college football on Saturday’s there were the typical teams that were usually on the television. USC, UCLA, Washington, Nebraska, Miami, etc… However, one of those teams that were one on a fairly regular basis out West were the Colorado Buffaloes. They were not in the Pac 12 back then, they were in the Big 12 and had many tough games against the powers of the Big 12 such Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. People have to remember that Big 12 did include Nebraska, who has moved onto the Big 10 in the last few years. Those games against the Huskers, Longhorns and Sooners were some of the best football that I had seen up to that point in my life. Now, to find the Buffs on t.v is like trying to find Waldo on a map or myself getting an “A” in geometry class. This once proud program has not been on the map, relevant, or whatever adjective you want to attach to it in the last decade or even longer. Why?

When programs go through some down times many times it is because of the amount of talent they have on the team. Or the kind of talent they have on a team. A very good friend of mine who played for Colorado in the mid 1990’s and is still very much involved with the program says the recruiting issue was one of the main problems. He played safety/cornerback for the Buffs and played under Coach McCartney. According to him, the McCartney brought toughness to the campus in Boulder. He would recruit kids from certain areas in California that have that toughness in student-athletes. One of those areas is the Compton, California area. He would also recruit tough areas in Texas and other places in the South. These type of athletes would get to campus and had that inner toughness. When your players have that inner drive to succeed, success will happen for your team.

When you start losing talent and you don’t replace that talent that is a recipe for disaster for your program. This disaster can last for years, decades or even longer. Being an Oregon State alum, I have a full understanding of how recruiting, or the lack thereof, can cripple a program for decades. The Beavers have come out of those 28 straight years of losing seasons. Is Oregon State a national brand or power? Absolutely not, but they do win enough that it keeps people coming through the ticket gates. When you don’t have talent, ticket sales go away and they have at Folsom Field in Boulder. Longtime Buff booster, Richard Engel has said, “The last 10 years of CU football have been an unmitigated disaster.”

Another prominent CU alum and quarterback, Joel Klatt, is quoted as saying, “College football is about one thing: recruiting. And the recruiting restrictions that the university imposed on the program, ultimately sunk the program to the point that it was going to be very hard to have success.” Many alumni and people in power at Colorado have said that the last time the Buffs had success was when these kids were around 6-8 years old and for a current 18 year old kid, that success is lost on them.

Another one of the things that have thrown the program into a tailspin in the last decade or so has been hiring blunders with head coaches. Once Coach Gary Barnett was let go, they decided to bring in Boise State Head Coach Dan Hawkins. This didn’t go as planned either. They were trying to get past the sexual misconduct issues that ended Barnett’s run in Boulder, but one thing that hampered Hawkins was that he appeared to cut ties to Coach McCartney and Coach Barnett. These were two coaches that had a lot of success at the school. McCartney won the National Championship in 1990 for Colorado. Cutting ties to the past of a once proud program is the last thing a coach wants to do. You want to remind players of what the program has done and its success and you want to remind the players of the chance that they have of adding to that success. Hawkins did not do that.

The other thing that caused Hawkins issues was that he thought he would have the same type of environment that he had at Boise State. He didn’t. The amount of restrictions that he had at CU was something that he couldn’t overcome and eventually was let go, which was CU’s fault according to Coach Gary Barnett. “I think the image that CU created for Dan Hawkins when they brought him to Boulder was inaccurate.” Said Barnett.

Once they Hawkins go, they brought in Jon Embree who was a star tight-end for Coach McCartney. However, to me, this was doomed before the first practice. Embree had no head coaching experience, no coordinator experience at any level of football. McCartney strongly endorsed the hire, but hiring a guy with no experience? I’m not a Buff alum or anything, but that did not make any kind of sense to me. After two years, four wins, and a 1-11 record, Embree was sent packing. That move infuriated Coach McCartney, but what was CU really supposed to do? Ticket sales were dropping, recruiting was not going well, wins were few and FAR between for this once proud program. The coaching position at Colorado was becoming a turnstile type of position and there was no hope in sight. Enter Coach MacIntyre who has the position now.

Considering that he his dealing with the rest of the high powered Pac 12 and all the offense that the conference brings, he has shown some resiliency with his teams. Now, the success in terms of wins has come sparingly. MacIntyre is a guy who believes that the glass is half full, an optimist and that is what he needs to be with a resurrection job like this. What a coach like this needs is time and support from both fans and the administration. Fans can be a little more anxious than admin, but he seems to be getting both right now. Athletic Director Rick George has pledged his full support for MacIntyre and believes he is the right man for the job, despite the struggles he has had with the team. “Can we get back to where we were in the late 80’s and early 90’s?  There is no question about it. Mike is the right guy for the job.” Said George.

Whether or not he does end up being the right guy for the job remains to be seen, but he certainly does have his work cut out for him. The Pac 12 is not an easy conference to find success in and as stated earlier, the high powered offenses do make getting talent to your school a priority. Colorado is a great school with a great history. Now it’s up to the current coaching staff to regain that swag that they had. Can they do it? I don’t know. When I see the Buffs on the schedule for a team, I see a victory for that team. Do I want them to regain their winning ways? Absolutely I do. It will add strength to an already strong conference and that is what I want for the Pac 12. Let’s see what Coach MacIntyre can do in Boulder. I’ll be watching for the improvement.CU

2014 CU Buffs All About Change

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The Colorado Buffaloes football program tried something new this summer, and, according to head coach Mike MacIntyre, it has them way ahead of the game – at least, compared to last year. MacIntyre implemented a summer workout program run by his team’s leaders, with the accountability resting entirely on the players’s shoulders. MacIntyre and his coaches were only allowed to meet with the team for two hours a week since June 23, and this time was used primarily to get everyone on the same page as far as schemes, plays, formations, etc. The conditioning and reps were all on the team.
Training Camp officially began on August 2, and MacIntyre says he can already see the difference from last season to this season. The emphasis in practice this year is implementing his offensive and defensive schemes, working on plays and developing guys mentally more than physically. After day two, he remarked that the team was upbeat through the entire practice, illustrating the positive effects of the summer conditioning program. Other than some time here and there for teaching, practices are full speed and high energy, which is exactly what MacIntyre had hoped for. Day one, he said, was a “good practice… not great, but good.” Day two, however, MacIntyre characterized as “one of the best practices I’ve seen.”
That bodes well for a program that is trying to create a new identity in the Pac-12 conference, finishing 4-8 overall in 2013. However, this time last year, the players were still undergoing the grueling conditioning drills and learning how and where to line up. With all of that already under their belts, they can now focus on football.
Time will tell if this new summer tradition pays dividends, but it certainly can’t hurt. With many key starters back from last year, the Buffs should be much improved in MacIntyre’s second season at the helm. After personally shedding fifty pounds over the last few months and watching his team coming together in the off-season, the coach is excited about the possibilities this year. Change for the better seems to be the theme.
The Buffs will open the season Friday, August 29th, against in-state rival Colorado State, and much will be learned from their performance at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. After the Rocky Mountain Showdown, CU travels to the east coast to face UMass before opening their Pac-12 schedule in Boulder against Arizona State. By that time, we should have a pretty good idea what kind of team the Buffs are and what effect their summer program will have in the coming years.
Mike MacIntyre seems like a good fit for this program. Here’s to hoping he stays around for a long time. Go Buffs!
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