As the final minutes ticked off the clock Saturday afternoon, the few hundred Air Force Falcon loyal populating the northwest corner of Hughes Stadium began to chant “Maybe next year.” Not until after the CSU Rams left the field in defeat did this simple taunt begin to fully make sense.
They’re nine weeks into the 2009 season and the Rams have no hope of improving on last years 7-6 record. CSU will have to wait until next year for an opportunity to statistically surpass the starting point of the Steve Fairchild era — a thought that is disappointing to players and fans alike.
When Fairchild took over as coach of the CSU Rams after the 2007 season, he made it clear that rebuilding the team to its former glory was going to be a slow process. Nearly two years later and in the middle of a six game losing streak, Fairchild remains consistent that it’s going to take time to get the program where he wants it to be.
Fairchild said that, while he’s not pleased with the six game losing streak, he’s “not frustrated” about it either.
“This is a process, and I knew that when I took this job,” the former CSU quarterback said in a press conference following Saturday’s 34-16 loss. “My job right now is to try and make that product better every time we go out there on the practice field and every time we go out there for a game. We’ve hit a plateau, but we’ll pass through this.”
One of the young players Fairchild and the Rams are hoping to build upon in the coming seasons is safety Elijah-Blu Smith. The sophomore explained that while the Rams are down right now, they are far from giving up even knowing that the team has slim hopes of making a bowl game.
“The guys aren’t taking it as bad as we could, and we always try to have a positive outlook,” Smith said. “We had the same situation last year where we just have to win our games. We always have a positive attitude about it. All we have to do is finish our plays off, and we’ll be OK.”
Fairchild agreed with Smith and remains optimistic that what the team is doing right now will benefit the program in the long run. The San Diego native used the opportunity to play young second stringers as an example.
“Anytime we can get anybody that’s not a starter onto the field, that benefits us,” Fairchild said. “One day, you’ll have a number of guys competing for spots and competition and those sort of things. It’s just not there yet.”
Lou Greenwood, a running back for CSU, explained he has benefited from getting playing time late in the game. The true freshman ran for a touchdown late in Saturday’s game and said that the playing time he gets now is critical to his future.
“It’s monumental,” Greenwood said. “Next year and the year after that, my eyes won’t be big.”
With the season quickly unraveling week after week, it would be easy for Fairchild to focus only on the future of the Rams, but the coach made it clear that he isn’t ready to give up on 2009.
“We’re practicing hard. We’re playing hard. And when you do that, good things will happen,” he said. “When you do that, good things will happen.”
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.