Rumors of who will take over the job that Joker Phillips left vacant are running rampant all over the internet and radio (radio that hasn’t been hacked by Terrorists that is). The “anonymous sources” are coming out of the woodwork yet again, reporting that prospective coaches are looking for horse farms in Versailles on their iPads, while on their flight to Lexington. Yes, coaching searches do seem to bring out the most fanatical of people, but we’re all a little crazy from time to time. Anyhow, the most recent guy rumored to be in play for Kentucky’s coaching vacancy is alleged favorite of Mitch Barnhart, San Jose State head coach, Mike MacIntyre. Of course, he has denied any contact from Kentucky, but it doesn’t stop us from speculating on whether or not he’d make a solid hire. By now his coaching roots and background as a person are all well known by Kentucky fans, but how do his teams actually perform on the field? To find out, I examined many of his team’s most meaningful statistics on both offense and defense over the past three seasons to see where his teams shine and where they struggle.
As you can see from the above table, MacIntyre’s offenses over the past three seasons have improved drastically from the one he inherited in 2010. This improvement on offense is mainly due to Quarterback play. In MacIntyre’s first two years as coach of the Spartans, his offenses merely had average play from the most important player on the field. But, current Spartan Quarterback, David Fales, who was named starter this season after a stint in Junior College, is the main reason for the offensive explosion this season. Not only did he help guide his team to a 10-2 record, but he set two school records in the process; completion percentage (72.7%) and passer rating (170.9). Something encouraging to remember for Kentucky fans; the Wildcats have two excellent prospects returning next season in Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles. Both showed flashes of brilliance last season, but with guidance from MacIntrye the two could potentially shine right away.
One really must marvel at what MacIntyre has been able to accomplish with the Spartan defense since his tenure began in San Jose three short years ago. In that time, their scoring defense has dropped nearly 14 points per game while every other category above has dropped as well. The most notable category where the Spartans excel is recovering opponent fumbles. Each of the past two seasons have seen San Jose finish among the top of the heap in college football in terms of gaining fumbles. This has been an instrumental reason for the improvement in scoring defense. In MacIntrye’s first season, the Spartans couldn’t stop opponents from moving down the field or force them to turn the ball over. The next season they forced more turnovers, but still had issues stopping opponents. This season was an entirely different story, not only did they force tons of opponent turnovers, but they didn’t allow teams to move down field either. That’s defense 101 right there, and MacIntyre’s team passed with flying colors in 2012. This is not only helpful to Kentucky because our defense was bad (obviously), but his style of coaching is perfectly suited for the SEC’s run heavy attacks. If opponents choose to keep it on the ground, they will have a higher chance of fumbling, thus giving Kentucky a higher chance of winning.
Mike MacIntyre has been a relative unknown during the entire coaching search, but now he’s apparently near the top of the list. This has the potential to be an excellent hire for Kentucky; he has SEC roots, coaches an excellent defense, and has experience in rebuilding a program in absolute shambles. Critics will often point out that he has a career losing record, but that tends to happen when you inherit a program with limited scholarships and only have three seasons to fix it (and fix it he did). It’s uncertain whether or not he’ll ever wear the blue & white, but he’d be an excellent fit if he ever did.