• A Shifting of Cultures: A Thought for The Herd

    A Shifting of Cultures: A Thought for The Herd
    By Mat Smith

    With Kickoff of the 2013-2014 campaign just days away, the Colorado Buffaloes Football program is set to begin a new era under Head Coach Mike MacIntyre. If you have paid close attention to the program then you already know that since Coach Mac has taken over the reins, the culture of the program has already begun to significantly shift. Coaches are getting players more engaged and inspired in practice and the coaching staff is focusing on player development far more than they have under the previous two regimes. So why is this important?

    The Buffs are coming off a 2012 season that saw them finish 1-11, 1-8 in Pac 12 conference play. The Buffs have had three different head coaches, including Coach Mac, over the last 3 years. The Buffaloes are only three years removed from a changing of conferences and the culture that comes with them, from the Big 12 to the Pac 12. Colorado has amassed a 20-54 record over the past 7 years dating back to the days of Dan Hawkins. Yet, the program ranks 23rd in NCAA history in wins and 33rd in winning percentage, a former national champion that has not sniffed a bowl game since 2007.

    You can hire and fire as many head coaches as you want, upgrade the facilities, appoint a new athletic director, but when it comes down to it, you have to shift the culture. This is a significantly underestimated contributor to what it takes to install or in this case, restore a winning tradition. At the end of the day, that responsibility comes from the intention set forth by the head coach, “When you get a chance to be around him and you talk to him, two things are clear. His passion and his energy, and good teams have that as part of their culture,” says Chad Brown, a four-year starter at CU, member of the 1990 National Championship team and three time pro bowler in the NFL. “We had such a great culture built up with Coach (Bill) McCartney of high dedication and high expectations and believing in our success,” Brown continues, “That part took care of itself”. Without the proper leadership, a team who barely won one game last season might see that as a daunting task.

    Coach Mike MacIntyre began with the San Jose State program as head coach in 2010 and in his first year and went 1-12, and just two seasons later led the Spartans to a 10-2 record. What happened? What changed? Well, the majority of modern sports society requires wins in order to measure success. In today’s world, a new coach is hired because for whatever reason a change is needed. Many coaches do not end up having success in their new positions because they may over-look the most crucial aspect to branding a winning tradition. They approach the situation from a problem first mentality, taking weaknesses or the “problems” and trying to fix them.

    While on the surface this approach may seem appropriate and many would probably tell you it is. In order to take a program from the depths of the NCAA standings and become the thriving, successful program they hope to become, none of the “problems” can be viewed as problems. However, the key to shifting a culture is not fixing your problems, it is implementing solutions. You implement solutions and move toward your true intention as a head coach, which is to establish a winning tradition and build a program for the future, not a season. “Our future is bright, no matter what you hear out there, our future is going to be right, we’re going to work hard and we’re going to make the right steps and do it the right way,” said an honest Coach MacIntyre at the 2013 Pac-12 Football Media Day in Los Angeles earlier this summer.

    In Coach Mac’s case, he is actually fortunate for the struggles of a season ago. Due to the poor season CU had last year, a vast majority of the program was in favor and more importantly, open, to a positive culture shift. Those who were not, or chose to pursue other avenues, found their way out of a Buffalo uniform one way or another. While some may feel Embree wasn’t given his proper chance, there is no question that the culture of the program needed to change. Buff fans don’t want to see the disappointment and disgrace on the face of their Head Coach on the sidelines and at times, the befuddlement of the surrounding coaching staff when things went from bad to worse last season. They don’t want to see poorly attended games, where it’s customary for fans to leave at halftime because the game was no longer competitive. It sets a poor example for the fans but more importantly, it is the polar opposite of the example a Coach should set for his players, “When you are coming off a season like last year, sometimes just trying to find the fun is the most important part of it all,” explains Brown. Players deserve the opportunity to look to a leader who is not disappointed or upset with their performance, but in a constant state of expectance of the best versions of the players they can be. Not someone who will go through the motions when the game has been decided early in the third quarter. There is no fun in allowing on average 46 points per game and there is definitely no fun in losing every home game of the season, “When you can make football fun again, then the guys can go out and play loose, then it’s possible that they can play past their ability,” says Brown. “A team that’s not having fun is never going to play up to their ability. With that sense of fun, that sense of passion, that sense of energy, then you may be able to go out there and upset some people and have a season far better than most would’ve expected.”

    Coach MacIntyre’s optimism and inspiration has already made it’s way to every locker in the locker room and all Colorado Football fans will be able to tell from the moment the Buffs take the field on Sunday. “I don’t know much about the last seven seasons, I just know what we’re going to do as a program. I have a phenomenal coaching staff and that'll be a reason we’re successful, but it’s the overall program. What the University’s doing to get things moving in the right direction is exciting,” said MacIntyre. There is a renewed spirit around the likes of Folsom Field and Dal Ward, a flash of optimism, a glimmer of hope that hasn’t been seen around these parts for what has only been about 5 years but has felt like a decade. That being said, there is still one remaining question. Can the community be in complete support of the team? Can the fan base see the positives in the team and recognize the journey not measured by wins or losses but by the feeling you get when you walk into Folsom? Will Buffaloes fans be patient enough to weather the bumps in the road? Will a program that has been united by the direct intention of a staff under Coach MacIntyre restore its adoration within the community and return to its once glorious ways? Will fans show up on Saturdays and voice their support for the program with positive expectations and the same optimistic outlook their head coach has? Or will this be another season of under performing, under supported Colorado Football? A great opportunity lies ahead for BuffNation to instill a long lost fervor for a program with outstanding passion and tradition. When they walk into Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday, all CU fans must consider what role they play in the success of the Colorado Football Program. As a community we must vow to bring the energy and excitement to the games and restore the Pride of the once Mighty Herd. Coach Mac is has brought back the fun on the field, it is up to us to do the same in the stands.

    Follow Mat Smith on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RealMatSmith

    This article was originally published in forum thread: A Shifting of Cultures: A Thought for The Herd started by TheJunta View original post
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Pale Ale's Avatar
      Pale Ale -
      Nice writeup Mat.
    1. KyleM.'s Avatar
      KyleM. -
      Good story!
    1. NBDefektor's Avatar
      NBDefektor -
      Nothing at all against the writer, but I was angry reading this. Only because we have heard the same bull**** for the last 5 years or so..."Oh, the culture! It's changing this time! These players want to win! Look at the coach's new office! He keeps it clean! Yep, a new culture is on its way!"

      It's so overdone and means so little at this point that I physically get upset. Higher pulse, clenched jaw, etc.
    1. Skidmark's Avatar
      Skidmark -
      Go buffs
    1. Skidmark's Avatar
      Skidmark -
      These last few months watching the Manziel saga and the audacious A&M stadium expansion plans for Kyle Field brings the "culture" discussion to another level.

      At A&M, a brawling pot smoking underage drinking womanizing autograph signing Heisman Trophy winning freshman QB was tweeting and instagraming his way to sure fire suspension. What did Coach Sumlin do? A) Wrote a letter to get Manziel's suspension lifted after a fight with racial undertones that resulted in an arrest for Manzeil after being busted for carrying a fake ID. B) Shut up during the NCAA autograph investigation where 4000+ JFF autographs were made available for sale by multiple sports paraphernalia brokers. The coach was on a gag order from the AD after the school lawyered up to defend their school against the NCAA. The net result was a laughable 1/2 game suspension for Manzeil. The Aggies have eight home games, a creampuff OCC and avoid Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee in conference play.

      Manziel would have not have been backed by CU the way he was supported by the Aggies.

      i contrast A&M's culture of engineering as many factors as possible (*cough*cheating*cough) to tilt the playing field to their advantage of winning football games with the culture at CU.

      CU is the NCAA's bitch. Did CU self report a training table violation and bend over for a loss of scholarships? Yes. NCAA compliance is more important than winning.

      Did CU effectively lawyer up and fight for Bloom's ability to play football and be a sponsored Olympic skier? No. Bloom got screwed.

      Does CU's media package at the PAC 12 press conference highlight NCAA restrictions on media guides within the first 200 words? Yes. While peer institutions are printing glossy media packages, CU ran a few copies of 8 1/2 x 11 through a xerox that features an education by Plati on what CU cannot do.

      CU's culture is to build a multi billion hospital complex in Aurora, bolster CU's presence in Denver and CSprings, move the presidents office to downtown, and renovate a bunch of non athletic structures in Boulder while neglecting the construction of an IPF, Balch upgrade, and Folsom renovation. CU does not attract the best football talent the state of Colorado has to offer.

      Culture at CU does not begin and end with MacIntyre. CU's recent hires of George and MacIntyre are based on a culture of running the CUAD more like a business, whatever that means. The culture is not emphasizing collecting the greatest athletes and offering the best chance to compete. The culture of CU is to demand that, above all else, the balance sheet not show red ink.

      Sure Jeff George and Mike MacIntyre need to be given a chance to succeed. But at the end of the day, they report to a Chancellor who does not have a burning passion for Football, football culture, and NCAA politics.

      They need a chancellor and president who share a vision that goes beyond writing an employment contract and delegating down.
    1. FlatironsBuff's Avatar
      FlatironsBuff -
      Rick George. Rick George. Rick George. Everyone repeat after me.

      Rick George.

      Not sure why every third post on him calls him 'Jeff George'.