A name to watch in UK football search: Mike MacIntyre

From what I’m hearing, there’s one name in particular that bears watching in this Kentucky football coaching search.

The name: Mike MacIntyre.

After a 40-point home loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday marked the end of the Joker Phillips era, it’s the son of a former Vanderbilt coach whose name might well end up atop the leader board when UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart sits down to make his final decision on a replacement.

MacIntyre, 47, has done an amazing job in three years as the head coach at San Jose State, going from 1-2 his first season to 5-7 last year and now 7-2 this year after the Spartans’ 42-13 win Saturday at Idaho.

MacIntyre has decidedly Southern roots, but he has experience in both the pro and college ranks, coaching on both sides of the football. And he has worked for two coaches whom Barnhart holds in high regard: David Cutcliffe and Bill Parcells.

The son of ex-Vandy coach George MacIntyre (who led the Commodores to an 8-4 record in 1982), Mike MacIntyre graduated from Brentwood Academy in Nashville. He played free safety for Georgia Tech under Bobby Ross, then was an assistant at Georgia, Davidson and Temple before hooking up with Cutcliffe at Ole Miss, where MacIntyre coached wide receivers and then defensive backs.

When Ole Miss fired Cutcliffe, Parcells hired MacIntyre to be his secondary coach with the Dallas Cowboys. Parcells and George MacIntyre were assistant coaches together at Vanderbilt in the 1970s. Mike MacIntyre was the DBs coach with Dallas all four years that Parcells was the head coach of the Cowboys.

When Parcells stepped down in Dallas, MacIntyre coached defensive backs for Eric Mangini with the New York Jets. Cutcliffe then hired MacIntyre away from the NFL to be the defensive coordinator at Duke.

The same season Phillips took over as the head coach at UK, MacIntyre became the head coach of a woebegone San Jose State program that had gone 2-10 the previous year under Dick Tomey. The school had been to one bowl game in the previous 20 years. It was battling APR problems that had caused scholarship reductions. Its facilities had suffered because of the school’s financial difficulties.

The Spartans won just one game in MacIntyre’s first season, when the Spartans played five ranked teams, including No. 1 Alabama and No. 11 Wisconsin.

His 2011 team showed marked improvement. After an 0-3 start, it ended up with five wins after beating Navy and Fresno State in the final two games, the latter on the road. It was San Jose’s first win over Fresno State in 24 years.

This year, the Spartans nearly upset Stanford in the season opener, losing 20-17 in Palo Alto. Its only other loss was a 49-27 home loss to a good Utah State team that is 25th in the current Jeff Sagarin computer rankings. The Spartans have put together a three-game winning streak since, and they should run that to four this Saturday at New Mexico State.

In an interesting twist, San Jose State hosts Louisiana Tech in the season finale on Nov. 24. Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes also is thought to be on UK’s list of possibilities.

As for recruiting, MacIntyre’s current freshman class was ranked the best in the WAC by Scout. As for a contract, MacIntyre did sign an extension through the 2017 season. His salary is thought to be about $500,000 a year.

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  1. Tom Seaver says:

    Defensive coach as a possibility? Good. The offense-first philosophy has generated consistent wins over non-SEC opponents, but has shown little progress in the SEC. Even with the Woodson, Burton, Little, Tamme group, wasn’t our best SEC record 4-4 or 3-5? Defense isn’t exciting to UK football fans, but it is what wins in the SEC.

  2. Juan4UK says:

    If Mitch goes after this guy, he will be fired himself. Job one is to hire someone capable to get the fanbase excited rather than send them looking to Wikapedia to find out who the hell he is.

  3. Dini says:

    After watching what happened with our basketball and seeing our past hires, MacIntyre makes better sense than a coordinator without trend of performance as a head coach. Not everyone is cut out to be a head coach. Joker, love him to death, proved it. I agree on an up and coming coach, but an up and coming head coach would be best.

  4. Mark Liptak says:

    John…you picked a heck of a week to take off! LOL.

    Seriously, I think UK needs to try to get more of a “name” coach with a resume of success as opposed to an “up and comer” that absolutely no one knows anything about.

    The state of the program can not afford a ‘miss’ at this point. It’s finally time to turn this program towards a direction of sustained success as opposed to the comedy of errors the fan base has been subjected to over the past 50 years.

    That being said unless the other factors as Howard Schnellenberger so artfully put it, are brought into play…support from the administration, a massive facilities upgrade and additional funding for football, it won’t matter if Don Shula returned to UK (he was once an assistant coach here if I remember correctly) or the ghosts of George Halas or Vince Lombardi rose up and said they wanted the job.

    It takes a coordinated effort from all sides.

    Mitch already has one bad hiring experience on his resume (the insane Billy G.)…he, least of all, can afford to make another bad pick.

    Mark Liptak

  5. will says:

    A hire should not be based on a candidate who excites the fan base. Fan excitement and attendance are lagging indicators of success. If we win they will show, simply. Big name hires don’t always work out. See Bill Curry at UK, Mike Shula at Alabama, or Lou Holtz at USC for examples. What is typically more important is making a hire who is the right “fit.” See Chip Kelly at Oregon, Peterson at Boise St, or Freeze at Ole Miss for examples.

  6. John Clay says:

    I agree 100 percent. The factor that excites a fan base most is wins.

  7. CRS says:

    Mike MacIntyre is 13-21 in the WAC, your are WACky for suggesting him as the new head coach.

  8. Robert Abell says:

    I think Mr. Clay makes a pretty good argument for Coach MacIntyre.

  9. Gary says:

    Sounds like a good up and coming coach….but the WAC is not the SEC. Being a head coach is different from being an assistant coach and being a head coach in the SEC is far, far different from being a head coach in any other conference. I would hate for a young coach to ruin his careeer.

  10. John Clay says:

    Two of the best recent hires in the SEC were Dan Mullen at Mississippi State and James Franklin at Vanderbilt. Neither had previous head coaching experience.

  11. John Clay says:

    He is 13-21 overall and 6-13 in the WAC. He is 6-5 in the WAC over the last two years.

  12. ray lockhart says:

    we want a coach that can recuit and also win in the sec all the names i see is sony dykes chris peterson, phil fulmor phil has stated that he would take the job. so quit fooling around with these coaches that may or may not be winning coaches go get one of the three and less get started and play football