SJSU's head coach Mike MacIntyre chooses college football to inspire players

by Aug 31, 2010 7:57 am Tags: , ,

When Mike MacIntyre was contacted by the search committee for the position of SJSU's new head football coach, MacIntyre said he was ready to take on the challenge.

"It was something I was looking for," he said. "I always aspired to be a head coach one day, and I felt like a year ago I was ready to do that. When they called, I looked into it further, came out and looked at it and liked what I saw."

MacIntyre's father, George, was formerly a head coach for both the University of Tennessee, Martin and Vanderbilt University.

"It's impacted me a lot," MacIntyre said. "I saw how he cared for young men and how they would come back and talk about how he helped them in their lives."

He said he remembers his father's success and his ability to turn both programs around when they were doing poorly.

"He turned Martin's program around when it was terrible and turned Vanderbilt's program around when it was terrible," MacIntyre said. "It was something I saw him do and enjoyed watching him do."

MacIntyre said his coaching background helped influence his choice to take the position of head coach and he understands all the stress and pressure, the ups and downs and all the successes that come along with it.

"I've been doing it since I've been running around the football field since I was two or three," he said. "I've gone to a million games, played myself, enjoyed playing and ruled it as something I wanted to do."

SJSU Athletic Director Tom Bowen said former head coach Dick Tomey put in motion what coach MacIntyre is continuing with the football program.

"You're seeing a coach now that's going to take it to the next phase of a solid Division-1 program," Bowen said. "What Mike's done is just to continue to raise the expectations, continue to focus now on being committed. He's disciplined."

MacIntyre said the idea of coaching for the NCAA was more suited to his interests than his previous experience, such as coaching for the Dallas Cowboys.

"The difference from the NFL is, of course, the young men are younger," he said. "It's not strictly a business. You're more of a mentor for these young men day in and day out."

He said he ultimately chose college ball because it gives him the opportunity to make a difference with the student-athletes.

"Football is basically the same," he said. "Of course with the NFL you have few more stars, a bit more glamor and glitz sometimes, but on the college level it's a day-to-day thing with a relationship with the players. I really enjoyed the aspect of working with the young men and helping build and mold them. I want them to be successful now and in the future."

David Cutcliffe, head coach of Duke University — where MacIntyre spent his last two years coaching — is another one of MacIntyre's influences.

"Coach Cutcliffe is a phenomenal coach," MacIntyre said. "A man who I believe in tremendously, how he treats his players, and also I believe in his coaching ability."

He said the two have grown close, talking on the phone at least once a week.

"He's going to watch everything I do closely," MacIntyre said. "I'm his first, kind of protege, to break off, so to speak. Hopefully in the next few years he'll be proud of what we do."

Sophomore defensive end Travis Johnson said the biggest difference in the way MacIntyre and former head coach Tomey run practice is how MacIntyre challenges the players.

"It's a lot more conditioning," Johnson said. "A lot more mental strength, just by how we practice every day and it's nonstop for the two-and-a-half to three hours we go. You don't really get a break."

He said camp has been long and tough this year with Coach MacIntyre.

"We want it so bad this year, so we keep trying every day," Johnson said. "It just takes a toll just because of how much more we want it this year because of last year's stats."

Senior quarterback Jordan La Secla said he is thankful that he was able to be coached under both Tomey and MacIntyre.

"They both have different ways of coaching but they're both great coaches," La Secla said.

Senior offensive guard Isaac Leatiota said MacIntyre inspires the team.

"He pushes us when we're down," Leatiota said. "When we need motivation, he's always the one who's motivating us. He always wants us to play with all we've got — to leave it on the field. He's a great coach."

He said MacIntyre's focus is preparing the team for the future.

"One of his main things is the future goals for the team and getting educated," Leatiota said.

Off the field, MacIntyre said one of the main goals is to make sure the players are going to class and graduating.

He said his personal goal is to win the Western Athletic Conference championship as quickly as possible.

"Once we build that foundation, everything else will come," MacIntyre said. "All the wins will come, and it will last — so that's what we're trying to do. Hopefully that comes sooner than later, but we're in the process of building a program and not a team and that's what I'm focused on doing."

The impact of living on the West Coast hasn't really affected him or his family, he said.

"We're all here, rocking along and enjoying it," MacIntyre said. "It's not much different really, people are people everywhere, there's good people and there's bad people. So you just have to find your niche and go with it."

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