It took fourteen years before Sonny Lubick ever really tasted failure at CSU.
The school’s winningest coach had never lost more than four preseason games in a row prior to the 2006 season, amassing a .618 win percentage, six conference titles and nine bowl games.
That is, until last year’s midseason game against Air Force. The Rams lost 24-21. Then they were blanked by Wyoming in the Border War, 24-0.
Then another loss.
What followed has been the worst losing streak for the program in more than 20 years. Eleven in a row – unthinkable two years ago – is the new reality for the team that now owns the second longest losing streak in the nation.
Still, CSU’s own “Ol’ Ball Coach” hasn’t lost his passion for the game.
“We’ve done some good things this year. You take out the positives. I tell the kids to make a 60-second commercial of all the good things we’ve done this year,” Lubick said. “There are a lot of positives, and you’ve got to dwell on those things and not the negative, which is easy to do.”
Sports Illustrated’s “Coach of the Year” in 1994, Lubick was an offensive coordinator for the Rams from 1982-1984. He then went to Stanford as an assistant coach for three years before becoming the defensive coordinator at Miami.
Since joining the Rams in 1993, he has been a four-time 10-game winner and a two-time all-star game coach (1995’s East-West Shrine game and the 2001 Hula Bowl All-Star game).
The team’s successes under Lubick have led to increased support of the athletic department, culminating in a $15.2 million renovation and expansion of Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, the $5.5 million building of the McGraw Athletic Center and the $4.5 million renovation of Moby Arena in 1998.
Those projects are behind the 70-year-old coach now, with the pressures of the regular season all that’s left to pay attention to. Lubick admitted that this season and losing streak were some of the worst he had ever seen, but still felt that it was just a blip on the team’s radar – something, like a stock market recession, that could be overcome.
“If you work at a job for 40 years, (losing) just has to happen. That’s how I look at it; it’s just part of the game,” Lubick said. “You know, the Yankees don’t win every darn year. We went for 10 years with eight eight-win seasons. How did we do that? I don’t know, but I knew it wouldn’t last forever. The stock market’s not good every year, is it?”
Age – 70
Years of College Coaching Experience – 37
Children – 3 (Matt, 35; Michelle, 34; and CSU wide receivers coach Marc, 29)
By the Numbers:
105-69: Record at CSU
8: Rank amongst active D1A coaches in wins
9/3: Bowl Appearances/Wins
1: Rank amongst MWC coaches in conference titles