Longtime Coach Mac visits practice of No. 12 Colorado
BOULDER, Colo. — The current Coach Mac let Colorado’s original Coach Mac do the inspiring at practice.
He sure did, too.
Longtime Buffaloes coach Bill McCartney showed up Tuesday and delivered a motivational speech that had coach Mike MacIntyre almost wishing it were game day for the Buffs, who are currently having one of their best years in program history after a rough decade or so in Boulder.
That’s how fired up his 12th-ranked Buffaloes were after an appearance by the coach who led Colorado to its only national title following the 1990 season.
Who better to stop by before the biggest game in years for Colorado (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) — a showdown with No. 20 Washington State (8-2, 7-0) on Saturday at Folsom Field.
“I just had him say something to the team, and of course he did an awesome job,” MacIntyre said. “He’s been in this situation before, so the players were all locked in on what he had to say.”
McCartney, who was recently diagnosed with late-onset dementia , tends to drop by practice about once a month.
But this particular trip had even more meaning because his grandson, Colorado outside linebacker Derek McCartney, was honored Tuesday as a member of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which recognizes athletes for making a positive impact on the community.
Derek McCartney is an advocate for the organ transplant community after losing someone close to him who was on the waiting list.
Derek McCartney is out for the season after tearing his ACL on Sept. 17 at Michigan .
“Derek’s a special kid, genuinely humble, extremely talented,” Bill McCartney said. “He’s everything you’re looking for as a coach. He’ll turn this (setback) into something good by getting stronger as he’s waiting to come back.”
Over the summer, McCartney’s family announced he had dementia and Alzheimer’s. They went public just to alert everyone in the area who runs into the outgoing coach that if he appeared disconnected or unknowing, not to take it personally.
Asked Tuesday about his health, McCartney said he’s “feeling good” and quickly pointed out that while he’s 76, his mother lived to be 103.
“You’re supposed to play your best football in the fourth quarter, so I have to have my ‘A’ game,” McCartney said, laughing.
At 93-55-5 , McCartney is the winningest coach in Colorado history and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
And there’s no bigger fan of the black and gold than McCartney, who has box seats for every home game. He firmly believes in the current Coach Mac, too.
“A really quality leader,” McCartney said. “This is a time we live in where kids don’t believe everybody that talks to them. But they believe him. They trust him. They don’t think he’s deceiving them for his own benefit. They think he’s in it for them. When you get kids like that, that believes in the coach like that, all bets are off.”
In McCartney’s opinion, that’s why the Buffaloes are in the midst of their best season in ages. They’re already heading to their first bowl game since 2007.
But plenty more awaits. They can earn a place in the Pac-12 championship game as the South Division representative by beating Washington State this weekend and Utah on Nov. 26.
This squad reminds McCartney of his talented teams because of their willingness to be coached.
“Coach Mac is a guy I look up, a man that I admire and get advice from,” MacIntyre said. “I listen to every word he says. It’s an honor and privilege to coach at the university he was at. It’s an honor and a privilege to have his namesake — Coach Mac and Coach Mac. That’s a special thing for me.”
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