LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 29: Colorado State Rams head football coach Steve Fairchild watches his team take on the UNLV Rebels during their game at Sam Boyd Stadium October 29, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UNLV won 38-35. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A look back at Steve Fairchild's coaching career for Colorado State, as 2011 could be his last. Fairchild is 16-31 as Colorado State's head coach over the past four years.
The Colorado St. Rams might be hitting the reset button on their program as there are some rumors flying around that the school is going to make some sort of announcement regarding the future of Steve Fairchild. If there is even an announcement there are two logical scenarios in my opinion that , either the school gives Fairchild an extension so that he is not a lame duck coach in 2012 or he will be fired.
Lets back up some to when Fairchild was first hired in 2008, he was taking over for legend Sunny Lubbick who had led Colorado State to six conference titles, but in his last six years Lubbick had five losing seasons. So, the change was made to bring in Fairchild who was a former Colorado State quarterback and had NFL coaching experience and the hire started off great. In his first year he turned things around and went 7-6 and led Colorado State to their firs bowl win since 2001, and the 2009 season saw continued success by starting off 3-0. However, since then Colorado State has had a record of 6-25 and in 2009 Colorado State went winless in conference play.
The fall off was fast and somewhat hard to believe. Most thought that Fairchild had the team on the right track, but that 2009 season was bad as their defense could not stop anyone and that included losing games to UNLV, Idaho and New Mexico. The offense was not much better as the quarterback play that year was bad as they were at the bottom in passing yards and points per game. For the next two season it seemed the same, poor quarterback play and running back play in 2010 to go along with a poor defense. Actually, the scoring offense and defense was even worse than in 2009.
With Fairchild an offensive coordinator and a former quarterback himself the thinking was that he could get good quarterback play out of any quarterback on the roster. Well not so much, but in the 2010 recruiting class there was hope when Fairchild was able to land quarterback Pete Thomas who was a four-star recruit who had offers from the Pac-12 and Big 10, but he chose Colorado State. This is just what Fairchild needed, a top-flight recruit to run his offense and from day one Thomas started for the Rams, but again the results were not there.
In Thomas' freshman year, Colorado State was not expected to do too much within the Mountain West since they were starting a true freshman. However, the coaching staff was extremely conservative with the passing game and only allowed Thomas to throw quick passes and screens. That strategy did not work nor did relying on transfer running backs from the Pac-12 who did nothing for their offense. That year was essentially a wash for Colorado State and even though Colorado State went 3-9 yet again there was reasons to be optimistic for 2011.
First off Utah and BYU were gone from the league, Pete Thomas had a full year under his belt and all of the running backs from 2010 were back. The defense also returned most of their starters and prognosticators projected Colorado State to go to a bowl game and finish fifth in the league and go to a bowl game. The schedule set up perfectly in 2011 with seven of their first eight teams they faced had a losing record in 2010, however Colorado State went 3-5 during that stretch, and they have not won a game since they beat Utah State in double overtime back on Sept. 24.
The team just has not been able to win games this year, yes there were some key injuries on defense and the offense has been inconsistent and not overly impressive week to week. Now Colorado State sits at 3-8 with one game left against the Wyoming Cowboys in the Border War and the way Wyoming has played this year Colorado State could be starring down their third straight 3-9 season.
Fairchild's future is in serious doubt after four years. There are people calling for Fairchild to be out as head coach with some have been calling for him to be out since Halloween. However, Colorado State athletic director Paul Kowalczyk has said that he will wait for the end of the season to make a decision:
"We have one game left and, like we talked about in the locker room, I told our team they would get my best effort and our coaching staff's best effort this week," Fairchild said. "And I would expect to get their best effort this week."
Those words sound like a dejected man who realizes his time is up, and he may be right. Fairchild has one more year left on his initial five-year contract which means unless Fairchild is given an extension that he would be a lame duck coach in 2012 and that could do more harm than good for the programming. That could hurt recruiting and possibly lead to players transferring, and odds of Fairchild running the course of his contract and then let go are slim.
Really there are only two options that will happen: Fairchild gets fired or the school gives him a one- or two-year extension so that he is not an official lame duck coach, but in reality a short extension like that after the lack of success would be a smoke screen and make 2012 a make or break year for Colorado State.
Not to look too far ahead into the future of the Mountain West, but with Boise State likely to be down after losing Kellen Moore and other key offensive starters, TCU on their way to the Big 12 and Air Force is also losing seniors on the offensive side of the ball. So there could be optimism in 2012 since Colorado State would be returning their top offensive players -- albeit a possible quarterback controversy between Pete Thomas and Garrett Grayson -- for next year to possibly give Fairchild one last chance to prove he can win.
The losing has become too much for Colorado State fans to want to keep him around any longer and they most seem to want to have a fresh start going forward in 2012 with one that does not include Fairchild as their had coach.