Bill McCartney

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Bill McCartney
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1940-08-22) August 22, 1940 (age 81)
Riverview, Michigan
Playing career
1959–1961 Missouri
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1974–1981 Michigan (assistant)
1982–1994 Colorado
Head coaching record
Overall 93–55–5
Bowls 3–6
Accomplishments and honors
1 National (1990)
3 Big Eight (1989–1991)
AFCA Coach of the Year (1989)
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1989)
Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award 1989)
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (1989)
3x Big Eight Coach of the Year (1985, 1989–1990)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2013 (profile)

William Paul McCartney (born August 22, 1940) is a former American football player and coach and the founder of the Promise Keepers men's ministry. He was the head football coach at the University of Colorado Boulder from 1982 to 1994, where he compiled a record of 93–55–5 and won three consecutive Big Eight Conference titles between 1989 and 1991. McCartney's 1990 team was crowned as national champions by the Associated Press, splitting the title with the Georgia Tech team that topped the final Coaches' Poll rankings.

In September 2008, McCartney came out of a five-years retirement from Promise Keepers to become the CEO and chairman of the board of the organization after founding the Road to Jerusalem ministry. McCartney was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2013.


Education and early career

After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in education from the University of Missouri in 1962, where he was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, McCartney was named as an assistant football coach under his older brother, Tom, in the summer of 1965 at Holy Redeemer High School in Detroit, Michigan. The younger McCartney was also the head basketball coach at Redeemer from 1965 to 1969, taking the school to the Detroit City Championship during the 1968–69 season. McCartney then served as the head football and basketball coach at Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan before becoming the only high school coach ever hired by University of Michigan coaching legend Bo Schembechler.

Head coach at Colorado

After eight years as an assistant at Michigan, McCartney was hired to replace Chuck Fairbanks as head coach at the University of Colorado on June 9, 1982.[1] In his first season in 1982, the Colorado Buffaloes compiled a record of 2–8–1. After improving to 4–7 in 1983, Colorado sustained a 1–10 campaign in 1984, but McCartney was given a contract extension nonetheless. In his fourth season in 1985, McCartney guided the Buffaloes to a 7–5 record and a berth in the Freedom Bowl, where they lost to the Washington Huskies. In the following season, 1986, McCartney's team earned its first victory over Big Eight Conference powerhouse Nebraska since 1967. After modestly successful seasons in 1987 and 1988, McCartney steered his team toward national prominence.

After the 1988 season, the Buffaloes' star quarterback Sal Aunese was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He died in the middle of the 1989 season. Nonetheless, Colorado won all 11 of its regular season games including victories over ranked Washington, Illinois, Nebraska, and Oklahoma teams. The Buffaloes faced Notre Dame on January 1, 1990 in the Orange Bowl, where they lost 21–6.

Colorado opened the 1990 season ranked fourth with a game against Tennessee in the inaugural Disney Pigskin Classic played in Anaheim, California. The contest ended in a 31–31 tie. A comeback win against Stanford and a one-point loss to Illinois leveled the Buffaloes' record at 1–1–1. Colorado then won the remainder of their regular season games. Their winning streak, highlighted by wins over ranked Washington, Oklahoma, and Nebraska opponents, was not without controversy. In a game against Missouri on October 6, referees mistakenly allowed an extra down on which Colorado scored the winning touchdown as time expired. The game, known as the Fifth Down Game, became one of the most notorious officiating gaffes in college football history. Contentions notwithstanding, Colorado rose to #1 in the rankings and once again faced Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl. The Buffaloes won a closely played game 10–9, aided by a controversial clipping call that negated a late punt return touchdown by Rocket Ismail of Notre Dame,[2][3][4] and earned a share of the national title. Colorado was voted #1 by in AP Poll while Georgia Tech was voted the top ranking in the Coaches' Poll.

The following year, the Buffaloes tied Nebraska for the Big Eight title and lost to Alabama in the Blockbuster Bowl. In 1992, Colorado finished a 9–2–1 campaign with a loss to Syracuse in the Fiesta Bowl. In 1994, McCartney's final year, he coached the Buffaloes to a victory at Michigan, where McCartney had spent eight years as an assistant. Colorado won the game 27–26 on a 64-yard Hail Mary pass from Kordell Stewart to Michael Westbrook as time expired, which has since become known as The Miracle at Michigan. The Buffaloes posted an 11–1 record in 1994, capped by a win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. At the end of the 1994 season, McCartney retired from coaching at the age of 54.

McCartney holds records for the most games coached (153), most wins (93), and most conference wins (58) in the history of the Colorado Buffaloes football program.[5]

In 1995, there was widespread media speculation that McCartney might un-retire to serve as the head coach at Michigan following the resignation of Gary Moeller.[6][7][8] McCartney, a former Wolverines assistant coach under Bo Schembechler, held a news conference to remove his name from consideration, stating that he wanted to devote his time to Promise Keepers.[9]

Outside of coaching

In 1990, while still head football coach at Colorado, McCartney founded a Christian men's group called Promise Keepers after giving up an extramarital affair.[10] He later resigned as the head of Promise Keepers and founded an organization called The Road to Jerusalem. In September 2008, McCartney rejoined Promise Keepers as CEO and chairman of the board. He serves on the board of directors of the Equip Foundation, Gospel to the Unreached Millions, and Concerts of Prayer International. McCartney was on the forefront to support Amendment 2 to the Colorado Constitution, which denied the designation of homosexuals as a "protected class".[11] His public appearance in the facilities of CU to support the Amendment caused an outcry among students of CU. The Amendment was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.[12]

McCartney is the author of five books: From Ashes to Glory (1995), Sold Out (1997), Sold Out Two-Gether (1999), co-authored with his wife, Lyndi McCartney, Blind Spots: What You Don't See May Be Keeping Your Church From Greatness (2003), and Two Minute Warning: Why It's Time to Honor Jewish People Before the Clock Runs Out (2009) with Aaron Fruh.


McCartney won a number of national coaching awards in 1989 including the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award, the Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award and the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award. Three times, in 1985, 1989, and 1990, he was named the Big Eight Coach of the Year. McCartney was inducted into the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

McCartney has been honored with a number of additional personal awards including: the Impact America Award from Point Loma College in 1995, the Spectrum Award from Sports Spectrum magazine in 1995, ABC News Person of the Week on February 16, 1996, Layperson of the Year from the National Association of Evangelicals in 1996, the Fire-Setters Award from Revival Fires Ministries in 1997, the Evangelist Philip Award from the National Association of United Methodist Evangelists in 1999, and the Humanitarian of the Year from the Syl Morgan Smith Colorado Gospel Music Academy in 1999.


McCartney lived with his late wife Lyndi in the Denver area. They have four children and ten grandchildren, one of which (T.C. McCartney, a former LSU quarterback) was fathered by McCartney's former player Sal Aunese, who died of stomach cancer at the age of 21.[13] The McCartneys attend Cornerstone Church in Boulder, Colorado.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Colorado Buffaloes (Big Eight Conference) (1982–1994)
1982 Colorado 2–8–1 1–5–1 T–6th
1983 Colorado 4–7 2–5 T–6th
1984 Colorado 1–10 1–6 7th
1985 Colorado 7–5 4–3 T–3rd L Freedom
1986 Colorado 6–6 6–1 2nd L Bluebonnet
1987 Colorado 7–4 4–3 4th
1988 Colorado 8–4 4–3 4th L Freedom
1989 Colorado 11–1 7–0 1st L Orange 4 4
1990 Colorado 11–1–1 7–0 1st W Orange 2 1
1991 Colorado 8–3–1 6–0–1 T–1st L Blockbuster 20 20
1992 Colorado 9–2–1 5–1–1 2nd L Fiesta 13 13
1993 Colorado 8–3–1 5–1–1 2nd W Aloha 16 16
1994 Colorado 11–1 6–1 2nd W Fiesta 3 3
Colorado: 93–55–5 58–29–4
Total: 93–55–5
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

Coaching tree

McCartney played under:

McCartney coached under

Assistants to McCartney who became college head coaches:


  1. "Series Classic: Mac's First 'W' Was In '82 Vs. Wazzu - - Official Athletics Web site of the University of Colorado". Retrieved November 13, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Video". CNN. January 14, 1991.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Tybor, Joseph (January 1, 1996). "Numerous Clip-and-save Memories At Orange Bowl". Chicago Tribune.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. " Top Heisman Non-Winners, Mistakes, & More". December 10, 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "2006 Colorado Buffaloes Media Guide, Records section" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-01-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 9508210049
  13. All in the family: Miles coaches son of late QB recruit

External links