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A Shifting of Cultures: A Thought for The Herd

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by allbuffs, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. allbuffs

    allbuffs Administrator

    Nov 12, 2010
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    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

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