When Mike MacIntyre arrived at his Dad’s funeral in January of 2016, the response was something he will never forget.
Just like Mike, who is now entering his sixth year as Colorado’s head coach, George MacIntyre was a football coach too. And just like Mike, George was a brilliant football mind. More importantly, however, George was a great man and a great Christian.
Mike, of course, always knew this. He wanted to be like his Dad growing up, and then got to play for him as a football player at Vanderbilt. What Mike didn’t know was just how many of his Dad’s former players also found inspiration in him. Hundreds of former players came up to Mike and expressed what George MacIntyre meant to them, but it was a pair of stories that really stood out.
“Two of the guys came up to me and said ‘Mike ... I accepted Christ when I was 32, I accepted Christ when I was 34, because of what your dad did in college with me.’ And I’m like wow,” MacIntyre said. “That’s truly what they call planting the seed and it will grow. You put it out there, you live it, you do it, you speak it. You’re not always going to be perfect but they’re going to see something real and eventually the spirit is going to click.”
That experience lit a fire inside of Mike, who was coming off perhaps the most turbulent year of his life. His mother-in-law, Jenny, bravely lost her battle with cancer two months earlier. Things weren’t going much better on the football field for MacIntyre, either. When he went to Jenny’s funeral, the Buffaloes were in the midst of a five-game losing streak as they ended the season 4-9.
(Photo courtesy of Colorado Athletics)
MacIntyre’s faith was being put to the test, but that only brought the coach closer to God.
“People would say ‘Oh gosh, it looks like doom and gloom,’ and you’re able to rest in His presence and it’s not doom and gloom. Those are times I look back and all the growth in those times was amazing,” MacIntyre said. “If you open your eyes and don’t look selfishly at all your situations, you just leave it to Him and look out, there’s so many people that are with you and helping you and praying for you.”
Mike knew he was growing as a Christian and human being through that year. What he didn’t know, however, was just how long he was still going to be in Boulder. When he returned from the funeral, he had just finished up his third season at CU, and had a losing record for the third straight year. At that point, MacIntyre’s record was 10-27, and 2-25 in Pac-12 play.
Everywhere he turned, the conversation was about his tenure at CU. Whether it was radio, newspapers, or Twitter, the conversation seemed inescapable. It was a trying time, but it gave MacIntyre an opportunity to live out Matthew 22: 37-39, his favorite Bible verse. In that passage, Jesus gives his disciples the two most important commandments: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. That can be easy to do when you’re winning; it’s when you are trying to keep your job that the verse is put to the test.
“That’s the hardest part for me, to put others always in front of my own personal agenda. Really truly loving somebody that might be just like me, or might have the same views as me, or treats me bad or says bad things about me, I still have to love them,” MacIntyre said. “That’s a verse that is kind of my verse. I can do all those other (verses) but if I’m not loving people than the world doesn't see Christ in me. They don’t see it and that’s the biggest thing.”
MacIntyre was going to follow in his Dad’s footsteps yet again, because George knew a thing or two about turning a program around.
Title photo courtesy of Colorado Athletics