December 17, 2012
MacIntyre brings California dreams to CU
Of the many one-liners that new Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre dropped in his opening press conference, none got as much attention as when he called California "in-state". Worry not, he meant it for recruiting purposes and he seems entirely capable of reading a map.
Colorado has long been one of the programs to hit California hard in recruiting, signing 32 prospects from there in the last four years. Compare that with the next most frequent pipelines, 15 from Texas and 11 from Colorado, there is no doubt where the Buffs' recruiting focus has always been.
But that recent success, and success recruiting the west coast dating back to the 1980s, was before Colorado had ever hired a head coach with prior coordinating or head coaching experience in the Golden State. That's right, ever.
Conventional wisdom would then say that MacIntyre could build on that long-standing tradition of a California to Colorado pipeline. However during his time at San Jose State, the Spartans signed just two players from the Rivals.com California Top 100, Sam Boyd (65th) and Mercy Maston (70th) both in 2011.
That is going to be a number that he and his staff at CU will need to turn around if the Buffaloes are to become competitive in conference and national. But it may be a struggle.
"I don't think many recruits know much about any of these coaches," said Rivals.com West Coast Analyst Adam Gorney said. "The top players that will be recruited by Colorado weren't really looking at San Jose State.
"One small-school coach once told me it's like shopping in different stores. Big-time programs are after a different level of player and so those recruits have developed relationships with a lot of other assistants. But MacIntyre and his staff could definitely make a move."
The debate on which store Colorado has been shopping at can be had at a different place and a different time. What is most pressing is the task that "Coach Mac" will have in getting prospects to see through the program's recent struggles and towards himself.
"He's not a national name but he can sell the job he did at San Jose State on the field," Gorney said. "That was a hapless program when he got there and he quickly turned it around. I think it's overdone that recruits want to play for 'celebrity' coaches. They want to play for guys who can win and MacIntyre can do that."
But MacIntyre almost didn't get the chance to prove himself in Boulder. Former Cincinnati head coach and now Tennessee head man Butch Jones reportedly accepted the job on December 5, only to turn it down the next morning.
Gorney said that Colorado could benefit from ending up with MacIntyre instead of Jones and it is all around his experience in the Bay Area.
"There is a chance some prospects caught a San Jose State game this season. Some could have taken a visit and seen how MacIntyre coaches," he said. "That helps. No one in the West knows much about Butch Jones or how he coaches. Many could have at least an idea - or their high school coaches could have a clue - of what the new Colorado program will look like."
What it looks like right now isn't pretty and recruits have grown up without a desirable product in Boulder. MacIntyre will need to change that perception and convince top-level talents from California to pick the Buffs over powerhouses like Oregon, Stanford and USC.
That might take a while.
"At least for a few years, I predict no major prospect is going to pick Colorado over Oregon, Stanford or USC," Gorney added. "Those are established programs competing for Pac-12 championships. Colorado is in a major rebuilding project, again. That will be one of the biggest tasks - convincing parents that if things are slow to start, like with Jon Embree, that he won't be gone after only two years. That could be a tough hurdle when people are looking for stability."
Time will tell if he is able to build his program on the back of both pools of "in-state" prospects. His San Jose State team had 93 former California prep stars on its roster.
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