The hire of Memphis defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre as FIU’s fifth head coach in program history raised some eyebrows, given his career 46-65 record in nine seasons as a collegiate head coach — and the interest of several well-liked names with South Florida ties.
However, six weeks after his hiring, MacIntyre’s experience is paying immediate dividends for the Panthers and he’s well on his way to shaping the Panthers in his image.
Six of the eight position coaches are already in place along with all three coordinator roles.
The hires of veterans David Yost and Ricky Brumfield provide FIU with names who bring immediate credibility. For MacIntyre, he likens his approach to building a staff to building a roster.
“The way I develop a staff is kind of how you develop a team in that you’re looking for different areas of expertise,” said MacIntyre. “You want some young guys who can relate to the kids, but you’re also looking for guys with expertise on the coordinator side of it and lastly, I want coaches who wanted to be in South Florida and wanted to be at FIU.”
Yost, who will enter his 33rd year of coaching in 2022, most recently was Texas Tech’s offensive coordinator and has spent 19 years working at Power Five programs helping shape quarterbacks such as former first-round picks Blaine Gabbert and Jordan Love. At FIU, MacIntyre is looking to lean on Yost’s experience with the evolution of offensive play at the collegiate level.
“When I was coaching in Colorado, he was coaching in Oregon and at Washington State and then he did a great job with (Jordan) Love, of course, at Utah State and then Texas Tech,” said MacIntyre. “He has a great experience and he understands quarterbacks and he has a system that he wants to run and that I like and is rooted in modern football.”
One of the largest reasons for the hire of MacIntyre given by Athletic Director Scott Carr and FIU President Mark Rosenberg was MacIntyre’s experience in rebuilding programs. Arguably the biggest question facing MacIntyre at the time of his hire was how would he go about bolstering a roster that had less than 45 scholarship players and several current players in the transfer portal.
He’s keenly aware that in today’s college football, managing a roster has become much like the style of the NFL.
“It’s really become about roster management now than it ever was before and my time in the NFL under Bill Parcells as one of the best ever at that has really has helped,” said MacIntyre. “I’m using a lot of that philosophy and then I’m breaking the recruiting class down into different categories of transfers, those have three to four years of eligibility left and then high school players. We’ve broken it down either by the years they have left and looking at your positions that way, but you don’t want to overload one position and you have three guys or four guys graduate the same year from that position. That’s the roster management aspect, so you have depth year in, year out.”
FIU has added eight transfer players, four of whom have more than two years of eligibility left, along with four high school players and one junior-college transfer.
MacIntyre intends to take advantage of the one-year waiver allowing teams to add up to 32 players this cycle and has been excited about the number of players — both prep and portal who have reached out wanting to be a part of the program.
“It has been amazing how many calls and follows on Twitter I’ve received from guys that that are interested in playing for us and exciting to get some of those guys here, many with Florida connections,” said MacIntyre.
In the current college football environment that sees the transfer portal akin to NFL free agency and Group of Five schools being routinely poached by Power Five program, arguably MacIntyre’s biggest signing off the offseason was wide receiver Tyrese Chambers — getting FIU’s top player from last season out of the portal and back with the Panthers.
“I loved meeting Tyrese the first time in Baltimore with his family, I think I was there for around four hours and it was a blast,” said MacIntyre.
Chambers set program records for receiving yards and touchdowns in a single season during his first campaign with FIU. Following the season-finale at Southern Miss, Chambers told UDD that he wanted to return to FIU — but he did enter the portal and received offers from over a dozen Power Five programs. In the end, the dynamic wideout chose to return and play for MacIntyre.
“Of course everybody sees what they see on the football field, but he has great energy. He’s really great with the other players,” said MacIntyre. “He’s kind of a Pied Piper type guy and very intelligent, fun to be around, good sense of humor. So I’m excited to have Tyrese, of course for his playing ability, but the more I’ve gotten know him I’m excited just to have Tyrese the person around our program.”
MacIntyre hasn’t lost focus on the returning group of players for FIU. With a bulk of the upperclassmen from last year’s team departing either via graduation or transfer, establishing his culture with this group is also key. 62 underclassmen (freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores) from last year’s group are slated to return — and none of them have experienced an FBS win.
“This was the third program I’ve gone into that was in this basically almost same exact situation and these young men have been very encouraging to me,” said MacIntyre. “They’ve been all ears and they want to be successful.”
MacIntyre, who was on his way to a recruit’s home during the conversation noted that while his focus has been on hitting the ground running at FIU, he and his wife Trisha have finally found an established residence after spending the first month living in a dorm on campus.
“The commute from the dorm to work was nice, but we found an Airbnb that’s nearby so we’re not fighting the traffic too much and my wife found a home that we’re hoping to get into March 1st,”