It has been almost 30 years since Mike MacIntyre was a Georgia Tech defensive back, but the impression that he made on Jay Shoop remains.
“Absolutely I remember him, because he was a coach’s son, and his dad used to be head coach at Vanderbilt,” Tech’s longtime sports medicine director said Friday. “He kind of had that mold about him.”
MacIntyre will lead Colorado Friday night in the Pac-12 championship game against Washington. A Tech graduate, MacIntyre has spurred a most considerable turnaround in Boulder, Colo. Arriving in 2013 from San Jose State, MacIntyre has produced a 10-2 record in his fourth season, the Buffaloes’ first winning season since 2005 and its first 10-win season since 2001. Colorado, which was 4-21 in the two years preceding his arrival, won the South Division after being picked to finish last.
A Pac-12 title will be among the most significant achievements for a Tech grad football coach since William Alexander hung up his whistle after the 1944 season at Tech. The list includes Pepper Rodgers’ leading Kansas to a share of the 1968 Big Eight title, Bill Curry’s SEC title with Alabama in 1989 and Ken Whisenhunt’s successes in the NFL (offensive coordinator for Super Bowl champion Steelers in 2006, NFC championship as head coach of the Cardinals in 2009). Frank Broyles won one national championship at Arkansas and seven Southwestern Conference titles.
Recollecting MacIntyre, Shoop said he was not surprised by Colorado’s season at all. Shoop said that MacIntyre intended to go into coaching even as an undergraduate, but he figured he would be successful no matter what he did.
Shoop recalled him as a grinder and a tenacious player who wasn’t overly gifted but who made the right decisions on the field. He was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and had an outgoing personality.
“He never met a stranger,” Shoop said.
MacIntyre came to Tech after playing his first two seasons at Vanderbilt for his father George. MacIntyre transferred after his father was fired after the 1985 season. He died in January of this year at the age of 76 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
MacIntyre played two seasons for Tech for coach Bobby Ross, lettering as a defensive back in 1987 and '88. He graduated with a business management degree in 1989.
For leading an improvement from 2-10 in 2014 to 4-9 last year to 10-2 this season, MacIntyre has already been named the Pac-12 coach of the year and the Walter Camp coach of the year. He is undoubtedly a candidate for the Bobby Dodd coach of the year award, an honor his father received in 1982 at Vanderbilt. (Curry won the award in 1989.) The parallel is easy to note – both father and son achieving stunning success in their fourth seasons at schools that have long failed to win.
Colorado and Washington play at 9 p.m. ET.
“It’s a little late, but I’m certainly going to try (to watch),” said Shoop, who, with his first free weekend in months, was driving up Friday morning to visit his 96-year-old father in Virginia. “I’ll certainly be pulling for him.”