COLORADO SPRINGS – Seated on a hotel ballroom stage here Wednesday afternoon with four of his in-state peers, Mike MacIntyre was one of the fivesome singled out for his noticeable effort in shedding pounds.
The other head football coach called out for slimming down was John Wristen, whose 54-15 record in six years at CSU-Pueblo was by far the best among the guys fronting the audience at Mike Moran’s annual Sports Corp College Football Kickoff Luncheon.
But “Wristo” – whose coaching roots run deep toward Boulder and the Buffs – can’t match MacIntyre’s plunge in poundage.
Since December, CU’s second-year head coach has lost 52 pounds. Saying he’s a sliver of his former self does an injustice to slivers.
When Moran, a long-ago sports information boss at CU and former chief communications officer for the USOC who emceed Wednesday's event, broached the weight-loss subject, MacIntyre’s response was, “These folks are going to think our wives stopped feeding us.”
To the contrary, MacIntyre stopped feeding himself – the wrong foods – and started carving out daily work-out time. In time, the pounds began falling off and his wardrobe needed an overhaul.
“Yeah, I had to change wardrobes – but it’s all good,” MacIntyre said.
Here’s the backstory:
After his first season at CU ended last November, MacIntyre took a Christmas break trip to Nashville – his parents’ hometown. At the mid-way point of the Buffs’ 4-8 season, MacIntyre and his brother convened in Nashville to relocate their mother and father to a nursing home – “which was very stressful for us,” MacIntyre said. “I went and saw them in the nursing home and was kind of depressed, to be honest with you, when I came back home.”
Shortly thereafter, in the wee morning hours, MacIntyre woke up – likely to make a bathroom visit – and happened to look in the mirror. He didn’t disclose his sleeping attire, but he saw enough of himself to say, “Oh my God, what have I done to myself?”
A couple of days later, he was attending an awards banquet with son Jay, who will report with the Buffs’ other in-coming freshmen on Monday. The sponsor of the event was Peter Greenlaw, a former CU skier who introduced himself to MacIntyre and told him about his book, Why Diets Are Failing Us.
After his early-morning revelation via the mirror, MacIntyre was interested. Extremely interested.
“I started on his book and the rest is history,” said MacIntyre, 52 pounds later. “I started eating correctly, going low in calories, high in nutrients, and going non-toxic. I began working out regularly and putting time in my schedule to do it.
“If I can’t take care of myself I can’t take care of anybody else. And you can have a life-changing incident also (by carrying extra weight). This is something I can definitely keep doing.”
He plans on it. He’s a new man in new clothes and he likes the look.
NO SUMMER BUMMER: MacIntyre likes the new rule permitting him and his coaches to monitor their players’ workouts for eight hours a week during the summer. One group of Buffs is working out at 6 a.m., another at 8 a.m.
“It’s been great,” he said. “The thing I like about the new rule is being able to be around them more. It’s a less stressful time for them; this time of year you can talk to them, get a better relationship with them. It’s really mentoring them more, and I love that part of it.”
To get the full benefit of the eight hours a week, MacIntyre has been meticulous in allotting time. Workouts – running or weight lifting – comprise seven of the eight hours. Of the remaining hour, 50 minutes are devoted to meetings, with the extra 10 minutes added to the workout schedule.
MacIntyre did the math, coming up with 430 minutes – or 86 minutes a day – of workout time that can be overseen by him and his assistants. If there is a downer, it’s that footballs are taboo.
But coaches usually find ways to maximize the time.
“With the coaches around, I think the kids are a little more intense,” MacIntyre said. “Their position coaches can watch them in the weight room. I think we’re also able to put a little more info in them. In the summer you’re not trying to just game plan, you can go over stuff a little more in depth.”
SIGHTING IN THE SECOND SEASON: The national college football media doesn’t foresee wholesale improvement from the Buffs in 2014, generally relegating them to last in the Pac-12 South and not appreciably better than last season (4-8, 1-8).
MacIntyre isn’t going there – at least not numerically – but he believes his second CU team will be improved.
The second-year areas in which he expects improvement include overall retention of what his players are being taught, cutting down on mistakes and second-teamers pushing first-teamers for starting jobs.
“And I think that’s happened,” he said. “We’ve got some battles going on and I’m hoping that will create more depth. We’re going to have more speed on our special teams this year . . . that should help us make some more big plays and have not as many big plays happen to us.”
The Buffs also will have a returning starting quarterback, which has not been a recent occurrence in Boulder. Here’s some of the improvement that MacIntyre expects from sophomore Sefo Liufau:
“I’m looking for more consistency in making the right reads more often, which means more big plays and more first downs and more scoring opportunities. That’s what you look at. It’s not something fans might see, but your third downs (conversion) might go up to five or six percent better, your scoring goes maybe five or six percent, your turnovers drop 10 or 15 percent. It just changes your team. Those aren’t things you might notice but it starts showing up on the scoreboard and in the stats.”
DUDE, IT’S THE ONLY CHOICE: A reporter cited CU’s woeful recent football history and asked MacIntyre how he could be optimistic about 2014. MacIntyre’s response: “There’s no other way to go. You can easily be negative, there’s no doubt about it. I always look at it persevering. I’m with the kids every day, I’m with our coaches every day, I’m around the program. There’s a lot of things to be optimistic about.”
He said his players were improving in strength, attitude and academics; the program’s culture was on the upswing, and the recently launched $143 million facilities upgrade is a tangible sign of commitment.
“I don’t see anything going backward,” MacIntyre said. “I think it’s just a matter of time. It’s a process; you keep believing and keep pushing and working and going. Then you can accomplish things. When that happens I don’t know. But I do know we’re headed in that direction.”
SUMMER NOTABLES: On defensive linemen Samson Kafovalu and Justin Solis, MacIntyre said Kafovalu’s status remains uncertain but Solis “is doing well.” Both were held out of spring drills to concentrate on academics . . . . The only returning player not involved in summer workouts is senior placekicker Will Oliver, who got an internship on Wall Street. But he’s keeping his kicking sharp by practicing at Columbia University . . . . MacIntyre said the Buffs will continue to recruit hard in the Colorado Springs area, noting that assistant coach Charles Clark “does a great job down here. All the head coaches in this area have been very receptive.” . . . . MacIntyre’s son, Jay, was a quarterback at Monarch High School, but he wasn’t recruited to play that position at CU. A depth chart released Tuesday lists him as a wide receiver. “He brings speed and athleticism,” his father said. “I’m excited about him and all the other freshmen coming in.” . . . . Macintyre and his staff are doing volunteer work in camps this week in Texas (San Antonio, Dallas, Houston) and Utah . . . . Besides MacIntyre and Wristen, other head coaches attending Wednesday's luncheon included Troy Calhoun (Air Force) and Curtis Collins (Northern Colorado). Colorado State was represented by assistant head coach Tim Skipper, who subbed for coach Jim McElwain.