By LARRY VAUGHT
Could Kentucky have its new football coach even though Saturday UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said the job had not been offered to anyone?
Aaron Cordero of bleedbluekentucky.com says sources have told him UK has found a coach to succeed Joker Phillips and that the announcement could be made in the next two days.
Maybe it is 47-year-old Mike MacIntyre, the current head coach of San Jose State who is making about $500,000 annually now. His team won 52-43 over Louisiana Tech — which is led by possible UK coaching target Sonny Dykes — on Saturday night to run its record to 10-2. That’s a big jump fro 1-12 in his first year at San Jose State in 2010 or even 5-7 last year. His team is ranked 26th in this week’s AP poll.
His father, George, was an assistant coach at Miami, Tampa, Clemson and Vanderbilt before becoming head coach at Tennessee-Martin and finally the head coach at Vanderbilt from 1979-85. The San Jose State coach played safety at Vanderbilt for two seasons before transferring to Georgia Tech. He was a graduate assistant at Georgia before becoming defensive coordinator at Davidson College in 1992, Tennessee-Martin from 1993-96 and Temple from 1997-98. From 1999-2002 he coached receivers and then defensive backs at Ole Miss before spending five seasons in the NFL (four with Dallas and one with the New York Jets). He went to Duke as defensive coordinator in 2008 and got the San Jose State two years later.
He signed a contract extension through the 2017 in January of this year, but obviously there would be no huge buyout and even making what Phillips did would be a huge pay increase for him and his staff.
A radio station in San Jose was the first to report Sunday that MacIntyre had been offered the job.
One college football bowl official who knows MacIntyre says he has connections that could make him a solid fit at UK.
“He worked with Bill Parcells with the Cowboys after Parcells talked to UK about taking the job before he went to Dallas and UK got Rich Brooks,” the bowl official said. “He is a really good coach who knows the south. He’s well respected and comes off really well when he is recruiting from what I have been told. He’s a sincere, good guy.
“He’s done a good job with that program. It was horrible when he got there. They have a good defense and only got hammered when they played a spread offense that Utah State had and then they had trouble stopping Louisiana Tech. But his forte is defense. His offensive talent is really good this year, his defensive talent is not as good. But I would think he would go get two strong coordinators if he comes to Kentucky.”
The Western Athletic Conference has been full of UK rumors as Utah State’s Gary Anderson once was thought to be on UK’s list. His team won the conference and ranks eighth in the nation in scoring defense (15.4 points per game), eighth nationally in sacks (3.25 per game), 13th in the country in rushing defense (111.4 yards per game), 14th in the nation in pass efficiency defense (107.0), 16th in the nation in total defense (322.7 yards per game) and 37th in the nation in passing defense (211.2 yards per game). However, sources have said he’s happy at Utah State and let UK know that.
What about Dykes, a former UK assistant coach under Hal Mumme who led Louisiana Tech to a 9-3 mark despite ending the season with losses to Utah State in overtime and San Jose State? Is he out?
Maybe. Maybe not. Some close to the UK search still think Barnhart plans to talk to him. Maybe he’s the one Kentucky really wants. His offense averages around 50 points per game to lead the nation and to win back the UK fan base, the Cats need to play an exciting brand of football. Dykes’ forte is offense, MacIntyre’s forte is defense. Barnhart may sense which direction UK fans might prefer.
Dykes is also being mentioned more prominently with several other coaching jobs. North Carolina State, Purdue and Auburn all fired coaches Sunday. California, Arkansas and Tennessee have also done so along with Kentucky.
“From what I hear, Sonny Dykes is still hot and should be hot. He’s a terrific coach, is relatively young and has a great offense that generates excitement. I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t have a lot of options this week,” the bowl official said.
“I hope Mitch can make a great hire but the competition for the quality coaches continues to increase and UK is probably at the bottom of the list in terms of desirability. To me, Auburn, Tennessee, Arkansas and even N.C. State have more football appeal. I think Mitch has to strike fast to get an A-plus hire.”