Sonny here to stay

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Nov 072002
 
Authors: Reed Saunders

The man who turned around the CSU football program and led it to new heights in his 10 years will get to continue his work for at least five more.

CSU Director of Athletics Jeff Hathaway announced Thursday that Lubick and the university have agreed to a new five-year contract that will keep the 10th-year head coach at the helm of the Rams through the 2006 season.

Though the announcement didn’t come as a surprise, it still made for a happy day at the Fum McGraw Athletic Center.

“Sonny is here, and he is here to stay,” Hathaway said. “My No. 1 concern was that Sonny was happy. The negotiations were easy. Perhaps discussion is a better word. Basically, it was us accepting Sonny’s proposal.”

The details of Lubick’s new contract are essentially the same as his previous one. Hathaway said Lubick’s annual base salary of $228,300 from his previous deal would remain the same and that the biggest change was in added annuities.

“I don’t want to comment on Sonny’s financial situation, but as he prepares for his time after coaching, he made it clear to us annuities were very important to him,” Hathaway said.

Among those annuities are incentives and bonuses in place for top-10 and top-25 finishes, as well as TV and radio appearances, BCS berths, bowl games and conference championships.

Lubick, the winningest coach in school history, accepted the offer with happiness and humbleness.

“I’m content here and happy as I can be,” Lubick said of his place at CSU and in Fort Collins. “This was a very easy marriage. I never expected I’d be here 10 seasons, but I’m so proud of everything this program has been able to accomplish.”

The progress Lubick and his staff have made at CSU has been nothing short of remarkable. Since coming to a perennially bad program before the 1993 season, Lubick’s teams have won five conference titles, made six bowl game appearances, produced five All-Americans and run off an amazing nine consecutive winning seasons.

“Without question, the job Coach Lubick has done at Colorado State is among the greatest in the history of Division I football,” Hathaway said.

Earlier this season, Lubick joined an elite club when he became one of only 18 active Division I-A football coaches with 100 or more career victories. Currently, he has an 86-32 career record at CSU with three regular season games remaining and a guaranteed bowl berth awaiting his Rams.

Lubick was quick to point out he is not the only one responsible for the Rams’ success.

“I had and still have great coaches working with me,” Lubick said. “I’m so proud of all the members of our coaching staff who have been with me since the beginning. They’ve been so much fun to go to work with. They’re good work colleagues and true friends.

“But it takes student athletes, takes janitors, takes everybody to make the success of this program,” Lubick continued. “The fans, boosters, coaches – we all make it happen together.”

One of Lubick’s longtime assistants, defensive coordinator Larry Kerr, was happy to see his head coach sign the new deal.

“The school and the community are really the fortunate ones here,” Kerr said. “What we’ve been able to accomplish is beyond any of our wildest expectations.”

Though rumors have swirled at times during his tenure about him leaving for greener pastures and a bigger paycheck, Lubick said he was always happiest in Fort Collins.

“There were overtures here and there about me leaving and I think too much was made of those instances,” Lubick said. “I’m happy to be here, I’m honored to be here and I can’t see anything that would change that.”

CSU players were also happy to see Lubick inked for another five years and weren’t surprised he didn’t ask for much of a pay raise.

“If it were about the money, he would have left for USC (University of Southern California) a couple years ago when he had the chance,” said

Brandyn Hohs, a CSU senior special teams member. “He loves Fort Collins. He’s Mr. Fort Collins. What better place to be than a place where you’re loved and respected by everybody? He might as well run for mayor.”

For now, the title of head coach suits Lubick just fine.

“The thing that makes me feel the most pride is that people know who Colorado State is now. Fifteen to 20 years ago you couldn’t say that,” Lubick said. “Not just the football team but the entire athletic department has grown. I’m proud to see people walking around, wearing their CSU sweatshirts and jackets with pride.”

Edited by Jon Ackerman

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