If CSU coach Steve Fairchild wasnâ€™t nervous about his job leading up to the game against the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Saturday, itâ€™s time he starts to worry now.
The Rams lost a second game this season they had no business losing, this time against one of the bottom-feeders of the Mountain West. The game was the most recent failure in a string of ineptitudes displayed by Fairchild and his coaching staff over the past three-and-a-half years at CSU.
Saturdayâ€™s game displayed nearly everything thatâ€™s wrong with Fairchild as a head coach in Division-I college football.
The Rams came out and appeared flat, unmotivated. Fairchild approaches the game and his position from an NFL mindset â€“â€“ a business mindset. Well, that doesnâ€™t work in college football. In the pros the players are motivated by making money, but in college the players are kids. And like all kids, they need to be fired up, kicked in the ass and inspired. Fairchild is incapable of doing this.
His style is regimented and the players have no fun. Theyâ€™re not allowed to. Maybe he forgot, but these kids are not professionals, and most of them will not go on to professional careers. They play football because they love it. Over time the â€œall business all the timeâ€ philosophy backfires and the players get fed up. This is exactly what has happened.
After the San Jose State loss at home, the players admitted to not having the right state of mind, the proper motivation to get a win. That is nobody elseâ€™s fault but the head coach, and that wasnâ€™t the first time Iâ€™ve seen a Fairchild-coached team quit.
The Rams completely collapsed in the final game of last season against Wyoming. The mood after the gamewas the most depressing environment Iâ€™ve ever seen. You would have thought someone had died. At that moment I sensed the team had lost belief in Fairchild.
Fairchildâ€™s flaws as a head coach go beyond motivational issues. The guy knows football, no oneâ€™s debating that, but as a play caller itâ€™s not working. Fairchild talked about bringing back â€œsmash mouthâ€ football to CSU, but since Gartrell Johnson left the program, there has been little success in the running game.
This is a problem because his offense is built on running the ball to set up the play action passing game to stretch the field. No running game has consequently made CSUâ€™s offense stagnant, unsuccessful and well, boring.
Fairchildâ€™s failure to create a successful offense isnâ€™t because of lack of talent. One thing Fairchild has done well in his time here is recruiting. He has brought in gifted players from major states like Texas, Florida and California, but he and his staff have not cultivated that talent into success on the field. He doesnâ€™t find creative ways to get the ball into the hands of his most versatile players, which good college football coaches do.
When he was hired, Director of Athletics Paul Kowalczyk said he hired Fairchild because â€œhe has had a reputation of developing young players and helping them reach their maximum potential.â€
I havenâ€™t seen this development of young players yet. A prime example is quarterback Pete Thomas. Thomas has not gotten to the point everyone expected him to be at halfway through his sophomore season. As recently as this yearâ€™s Rocky Mountain Showdown, Thomas wasnâ€™t allowed to look past his second read. He plays cautiously, much like the way Fairchild calls plays.
Now is the time to let Fairchild go, and hereâ€™s why. He has one more year left on his five year contract. If you keep him around for next season, but donâ€™t extend his contract, youâ€™re looking at essentially a lame-duck coach. He canâ€™t go into a high school recruitâ€™s house and convince the kid to come to CSU with the kid knowing Fairchild wonâ€™t be around when he gets here.
You fire him now, or at the end of the season, look for his replacement and get him in place to start recruiting.
Iâ€™m sorry, but a 16-29 record, where nearly half those wins came in one season, just wonâ€™t cut it.
Itâ€™s time CSU football had a new face.
Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.