Dec 042011
 
Authors: Kevin Lytle

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.

“Results are important,” Graham said. “And 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.”

Graham praised Fairchild for improving the talent level and running a squeaky clean program.

“I think Steve Fairchild is a spectacular human being, and he really and truly is,” Graham said. “I don’t think there’s anybody who has worked harder for Colorado State University than Steve Fairchild.”

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 CSU’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 isn’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.
“I would like to thank Colorado State University for giving me the opportunity to come back and serve as head football coach,” Fairchild wrote in a statement. “…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.”

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 doesn’t matter as long as it produces results, Graham did provide a clue as to what type of team he might want at CSU.

“I like speed. It’s very difficult to beat speed,” Graham said. “My emphasis is on speed and aggressiveness and players that just have a relentless attitude. That’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.”

But most importantly Graham said he wants someone that will generate “passion and enthusiasm” not only within the team, but also throughout the fan base.

Players, while not surprised, were still hit hard by the decision.

“I love coach Fairchild, but when it comes down to it us players didn’t make enough plays to keep him around,” sophomore quarterback Pete Thomas said. “As much as I love coach Fairchild and wanted to play for him all four years, I respect the school’s decision and am just going forward from here.”

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.

“I want a guy who’s going to bring results, who’s going to change the football program,” sophomore center Weston Richburg said. “We have the players to do it, we just need somebody to really take hold and bring us back to prominence.”

Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

Steve Fairchild

Hired: Dec. 12, 2007 to replace Sonny Lubick

Career record: 16-33

Best season: 7-6 in 2008 (won New Mexico Bowl)

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