As the 2008-2009 football season ramps up on its way to Denver this Sunday, the Collegian will be taking a three-day look at the playmakers and coaches to watch for on both sides of the ball. Today’s third and final installment introduces the men charged with organizing, coordinating, facilitating and fostering the mayhem that is college football. Throw on a headset — welcome to the coaching staff.
Head coach: Steve Fairchild
Fairchild enters the 2008 season in not only his first year as the head coach of CSU, but also his first season as a head coach, period. But for Fairchild, there is no better place to receive a head-coaching job than in Fort Collins.
He’s a product of the program.
In 1978 he transferred to CSU from Mesa Community College as a junior college All-American and became the Rams’ starting quarterback as a senior in 1980. That season, Fairchild passed for almost 2,600 yards along with 15 touchdowns as CSU went 6-4-1 with wins against Air Force, Arizona and Wyoming and a 21-21 tie against Utah.
Twelve years after graduation, in 1993, Fairchild came back to CSU as the quarterbacks’ coach and took over offensive coordinator duties in 1997. In 2001 he left CSU for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills as a running backs’ coach. After seven years in the professional ranks, he was hired as CSU’s 19th head coach on December 12.
“I’ve made the calls before, but I’ve never been the head coach . I’m looking forward to it,” said Fairchild. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me, you know, I’ve never hidden that fact. I mean, I’m lucky. I’m one of the few guys on the whole planet who has the job they want in the whole world. So, I’m certainly blessed.”
Offensive coordinator: Greg Peterson
Peterson is one of the few coaches on this CSU coaching staff who has never coached at Colorado State in the past. Nevertheless, he has a strong resume, spending 12 of the last 14 years in the Big 12 Conference at Kansas State, coaching alongside KSU legend Bill Snyder. The past two seasons, he has been the tight ends’ coach and recruiting coordinator at Washington State University.
He comes to CSU with 25 years of coaching under his belt. He’s a down-to-Earth guy who won’t ever pass up good barbeque or Mexican food and is feeling optimistic about the upcoming season with his new team.
“The strength of our offense is the depth of our running backs; there’s three or four guys there who could play. You look at our tight ends and we’re probably three-deep there,” said Peterson. “With this group of receivers here, we got a chance, and I really believe that.”
Tight ends’ coach:
Lubick is the son of former head coach Sonny Lubick and will be entering his seventh season at CSU, but his first coaching the tight ends. The past three seasons, he has been the Rams’ wide receivers’ coach, helping develop former CSU standouts like Johnny Walker and Damon Morton as well as receivers slated to make an impact this season like Dion Morton and Rashaun Greer.
He’s looking forward to working with his veteran bunch of tight ends this season, and though it may feel different without his dad on the sideline with him, Lubick is positive about the season ahead.
“It’s a little different; he’s a great coach and a great person and he had a great staff, so this is a great situation for me and I’m excited about the season coming up,” said Lubick.
It’s no secret that the cornerback position is going to be one of the questions this season, but cornerbacks’ coach Tim Duffie is staying optimistic. He’s entering his first season at CSU, after he spent the past five years at Texas-El Paso coaching safeties and linebackers. A former linebacker at Texas Tech in the late 1990s, Duffie has proven his ability to coach players on to the NFL, including Oakland Raiders linebacker Thomas Howard.
Although his corners are inexperienced, Duffie says he doesn’t care if a player is a freshman or a senior — they’re all even on his field.
“I feel pretty comfortable after going through a spring and a summer with these guys – the newness has worn off,” said Duffie. “We’re going to have guys playing who have never played before, no doubt.
“The main thing is to build some confidence, making sure those guys realize that they are what we have and we can’t go out like the NFL and trade guys and waive guys and release guys. We just got to get better every day. It’s not going to be an easy climb, but the only way to get better is to play.”
Football beat writer Matt L. Stephens can be reached at email@example.com.