Entering your first game as the new head coach of a struggling football program can be difficult enough, but it becomes even harder when facing your school’s biggest rival.
Welcome to the life of Rams head Coach Steve Fairchild and his staff.
Fairchild is feeling the pressure of the Showdown, but explained that it has nothing to do with facing the Buffs.
“It’s pretty pressure packed no matter who you open up with,” said the former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator. “That’s the nature of division one football. I’m just looking at it as we came here to do a job and this is the road we have to travel.”
First year CSU offensive coordinator Greg Peterson explained that he is more excited about Sunday’s game than nervous. The 25-year coach said that there is no sense in getting nervous.
“We relish the chance anytime that you get to play your in-state rival whether it’s the first game of the season or the twelfth,” he said. “We’ll have a good plan for the Buffaloes and we’ll be ready to go.”
Fairchild explained that having coached in the showdown and having coaches who have played in the game before helps nerves a lot.
“Most the guys on this staff are familiar with this game, so we know what it’s about and it’s a great atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a little easier to visualize the game when you have been there and know what you are walking into.”
Five members of Fairchild’s staff have previously been a part of the Showdown, including Daren Wilkinson, Anthoney Hill and Pat Meyer, who donned the green and gold as players.
CSU Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk said he believes in the things that Fairchild and his staff are doing to transform the program, but explained that there is no pressure on the coaches based on the outcome of this season.
“It’s year one of a rebuilding but I’m already impressed with the progress I’m seeing,” he said. “We’re not putting any pressure on wins and losses this year.”
Kowalczyk added that he is still expecting a good game with CU though.
“I want to see us play hard and give our best effort,” he said. “I believe in the coach, the assistants and players. We are going to give CU all they can handle.”
Marc Lubick, CSU’s tight end coach, admitted that he can see differences between his father, former Rams head man Sonny Lubick, and Fairchild but said the end goal remains the same.
Marc Lubick is the only coach remaining with the Rams from last season.
“It’s a little different but everything changes,” the tight ends coach said. “We’ve got to go out there and do our best and compete but that’s the nature of the game. Both staffs tried and are trying to do things with players and situations to make the team as successful as possible.”
Even though the Showdown might be the most anticipated game of the season for many fans, Fairchild knows he has the whole season ahead of him and is viewing Sunday as just a starting place.
“This will be a good barometer to see where we are at,” the former CSU quarterback said. “But wherever we are at we are going to keep getting better.”
Football beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.