Ole Miss hires MacIntyre as defensive coordinator

Published 5:00 pm Monday, December 10, 2018

OXFORD — Mike MacIntyre, a two-time national coach of the year and coaching veteran with nearly three decades of experience, has been named Ole Miss’ defensive coordinator, head coach Matt Luke announced Monday.

School spokesman Kyle Campbell says MacIntyre received a three-year contract that will pay him $1.5 million annually.

A 29-year coaching veteran, including five seasons in the NFL, the 53-year-old MacIntyre returns to Oxford for his second stint with the Ole Miss program after working on the Rebels’ staff with Luke from 1999-2002. MacIntyre was the wide receivers and secondary coach in his first go-round in Oxford.

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MacIntyre and Luke also worked together at Duke, where MacIntyre was the national assistant coach of the year in 2009.

“I am honored and excited to have this opportunity,” MacIntyre said. “From our time working together, I have a lot of respect for Matt as a coach and as a man. The future is bright under his leadership, and I look forward to working with the players to help take this program to the next level. Oxford is a special place. My family and I loved our time there, and we can’t wait to be back and part of this wonderful community.”

MacIntyre spent the last six seasons as the head coach at Colorado, where he had a 30-44 overall record and a 14-39 mark in the Pac-12. He was the national coach of the year in 2016 after leading the Buffaloes to their first 10-win season in 15 years, but was not able to sustain that success.

The Buffaloes finished 5-7 in 2017, then lost their last seven games this season after a 5-0 start that got them as high as No. 19 in the Assocated Press Top 25 poll. Five of the seven losses were by 10 points or more, and another came in overtime against Oregon State after Colorado blew a 24-3 halftime lead.

MacIntyre was fired on Nov. 18, the day after a 30-7 loss to Utah.

Despite that sour ending, Luke praised MacIntyre’s experience and coaching ability.

“I could not be more excited to add Mike’s leadership, values and high-level experience to our program,” said Luke, who was on the Duke staff with MacIntyre. “Throughout our years together at Duke and Ole Miss, I have seen firsthand his ability to turn around a defense, and I look forward to seeing his veteran influence on that side of the ball. Mike is also a tremendous recruiter and should make an immediate impact as we assemble this important class.”

Turnarounds have been a trademark of MacIntyre’s career.

In 2010 MacIntyre took over a San Jose State program that had gone 2-10 the year before. The Spartans went 1-12 in his first season, but in 2012 they improved to 10-2 and finished at No. 21 in the Associated Press poll — the program’s first ranking since 1975.

MacIntyre was named the American Football Coaches Association national coach of the year in 2012.
MacIntyre was then hired by Colorado, where he replicated his San Jose State run.

In 2013, he took over a Colorado team that was coming off a 1-11 season, and four years later directed the Buffs to a 10-3 mark and their first appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Colorado was tied with five others for most improved in the nation overall and the most improved all-time in Pac-12 league games in 2016. The Buffaloes became just the ninth team among Power-5 schools since 1972 to win 10 or more games after finishing the previous season with four or fewer wins.

In 2015, the CU defense improved by as many as 50 spots nationally in many major defensive areas. The biggest jump came in points allowed per game, slicing off 11.5 from the previous year, the fifth-best improvement in all of FBS.

While at San Jose State, MacIntyre’s defense tied for fourth in the country in turnovers forced, with 33. In his first season at Duke in 2008, the Blue Devils allowed 67.4 fewer yards and 9.8 fewer points per game than in 2007.

Now he’ll try to engineer a similar turnaround in Oxford. Ole Miss’ defense ranked 121st out of 129 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total defense this season, allowing 483.4 yards per game. The Rebels ranked 108th in pass defense (261.7 yards per game), 115th in rushing defense (221.8 ypg) and 114th in scoring defense (36.2 points per game).

The team’s defensive struggles led to a 5-7 finish and the firing of defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff the day after a 35-3 loss to Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.