For the second time in less than a week, a prominent figure within the CSU athletic department was fired Sunday.
On Thursday, in a shocking announcement, university President Tony Frank removed Director of Athletics Paul Kowalczyk from his position and replaced him with former CSU football player Jack Graham.
And Sunday, just a day after the Rams lost 22-19 to the University of Wyoming, Graham announced that football coach Steve Fairchild would not return to his post in 2012.
â€œResults are important,â€ Graham said. â€œAnd going 3-9 in three successive years is unacceptable. That in and of itself is enough to say that a change has to be made.â€
Graham praised Fairchild for improving the talent level and running a squeaky clean program.
â€œI think Steve Fairchild is a spectacular human being, and he really and truly is,â€ Graham said. â€œI donâ€™t think thereâ€™s anybody who has worked harder for Colorado State University than Steve Fairchild.â€
But ultimately the lack of progress in the wins column was too much to ignore. Especially the late-season swoons that have occured under Fairchild.
This season ended with an eight game losing streak, and the 2009 year ended with nine consecutive losses. Seven of CSUâ€™s nine wins in the last three years came in September.
Graham spent a good portion of Friday with Fairchild, a time that he admits isnâ€™t enough to make a thorough evaluation, but by late Saturday night he felt he knew enough about the direction of the program to know that he needed to make a change.
Sunday afternoon Graham met with Fairchild and let him know of the change.
â€œI would like to thank Colorado State University for giving me the opportunity to come back and serve as head football coach,â€ Fairchild wrote in a statement. â€œ…With approximately 19 starters returning for the 2012 season, I regret not having the opportunity to see the process through. However, I realize that college football is a bottom-line business, and I knew when I was hired that I would be ultimately judged by wins and losses.â€
The search for a new coach will begin immediately and move fast because of the need to have a structure in place during the heart of recruiting.
Graham said that the new coach will likely make more than the $700,000 that Fairchild made from his $350,000 base salary combined with $350,000 for media contracts (TV, radio appearances, etc.).
While he said that playing style doesnâ€™t matter as long as it produces results, Graham did provide a clue as to what type of team he might want at CSU.
â€œI like speed. Itâ€™s very difficult to beat speed,â€ Graham said. â€œMy emphasis is on speed and aggressiveness and players that just have a relentless attitude. Thatâ€™s the kind of culture that I would like to see exist and the playing style I would like to see us play at CSU.â€
But most importantly Graham said he wants someone that will generate â€œpassion and enthusiasmâ€ not only within the team, but also throughout the fan base.
Players, while not surprised, were still hit hard by the decision.
â€œI love coach Fairchild, but when it comes down to it us players didnâ€™t make enough plays to keep him around,â€ sophomore quarterback Pete Thomas said. â€œAs much as I love coach Fairchild and wanted to play for him all four years, I respect the schoolâ€™s decision and am just going forward from here.â€
And while the style the new coach brings will go a long way in determining if players stay or go, they all want the same outcome: wins.
â€œI want a guy whoâ€™s going to bring results, whoâ€™s going to change the football program,â€ sophomore center Weston Richburg said. â€œWe have the players to do it, we just need somebody to really take hold and bring us back to prominence.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hired: Dec. 12, 2007 to replace Sonny Lubick
Career record: 16-33
Best season: 7-6 in 2008 (won New Mexico Bowl)