Following a disappointing 2010 season for CSU football on both sides of the ball, it left questions as to what coaching changes would be made on fourth year head coach Steve Fairchild’s staff.
Instead of bringing in new blood, Fairchild opted to reorder the positions of his current staff heading into next year.
“We had to make changes because the way we finished last season was unacceptable,” Fairchild said. “Doing nothing was not an option.”
Four coaches were reassigned on Feb. 4, but two in particular did not seem like natural fits.
Larry Lewis spent last season in charge of safeties and special teams, but was switched to special team’s coordinator and running backs coach for 2011.
Lewis has spent most of his 30-year coaching career on the defensive side of the ball, but is now being asked to coach a position and group of players he is not familiar with.
“For me it’s getting better each day. My overall knowledge of what we’re doing is getting better,” Lewis said. “I appreciate our kids because they’re helping me as much as I’m helping them.”
Lewis was also named associate head coach after having nine years of experience as Idaho State’s head coach.
Anthoney Hill spent the previous three seasons at running backs coach, and is now in charge of tight ends despite playing quarterback for CSU from 1992-94.
Hill admits to feeling out of place initially.
“For me nothing’s comfortable until you have some experience with it and kind of get that comfort level,” Hill said.
That’s not to say he isn’t supportive of Fairchild’s decision.
“I think it’s good for me to take this step in my career,” Hill said.
The rotation of coaching responsibilities has made spring practice as important for the new coaches as it is for the players.
“It’s critical. To be able to see (the offense) in a live performance is the same for me as the kids,” Lewis said. “Until you do it under fire sometimes you don’t know how you’re going to react.”
Minor shifts in responsibilities included giving last year’s cornerbacks coach Tim Duffie control over the entire secondary.
Duffie, who had coached cornerbacks for the Rams since 2008, brings a wealth of defensive knowledge having played linebacker for Texas Tech University from 1996-99, and coaching safeties at the University of Texas-El Paso for three seasons.
Former tight ends coach Todd Stroud will enter his second season with the Rams coaching the defensive line, a position he played for Bobby Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles.
“I enjoy coaching defense more than offense,” Stroud said. “I played the position, so I got a lot bigger knowledge base. I’m more comfortable coaching defense.”
The coaches who were asked to make the changes are still unsure how or why Fairchild decided on the coaching shakeup.
“I have no idea. I would hope it’s something positive, though,” Duffie said. “Coach (Fairchild) decides who coaches what obviously, and we’re just doing it and trying to make the best of it.”
Assistant Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at email@example.com.