When Sonny Lubick landed his first Division I-A head-coaching job, at
First with Dan McGwire at quarterback and then with
So Lubick, a former head coach at Montana State and defensive coordinator at Miami, hired San Diego State offensive coordinator Dave Lay for the same position at Colorado State. In turn, Lay recommended that Lubick consider Aztecs quarterbacks coach Steve Fairchild for the same post with the
"He was a real passionate, young guy who wanted to learn football," Lubick recalled last week. "Just a tremendous addition to our football staff. … Steve grew with the job."
Indeed, Fairchild, a former Colorado State quarterback, went on to coordinate offenses at his alma mater and in the
Fairchild coached Colorado State's quarterbacks for four years. When Lay returned to San Diego State, his alma mater, Lubick promoted to Fairchild to offensive coordinator, and in the four ensuing seasons, Colorado State ranked eighth, 39th, 30th and 31st nationally in scoring.
Most important, CSU was a sterling 37-12 during that stretch and twice finished among the Associated Press' top 20.
"He had the ability to be flexible to the type of quarterback we had, if we were going to run the ball with the quarterback or just drop back," Lubick said. "We were so well-balanced. We were a physical offensive football team. We could run the ball most years against anyone."
Four quarterbacks whom Fairchild coached at Colorado State -- Moses Moreno, Matt Newton, Terry Nugent and Anthoney Hill -- rank first, second, third and fifth, respectively, in program history in career touchdown passes.
"He developed the heck out of them and made them good players," Lubick said. "He was hard on them and tough on them."
Fairchild’s best offense, in Lubick’s mind, was his first, in 1997. With Moreno throwing for 2,252 yards and 20 touchdowns, and
“That was as good as we’d looked in a long time,” said Lubick, whose defense included
Fairchild left Colorado State after the 2000 season to coach the Buffalo Bills’ running backs under
In Fairchild’s first season, Colorado State went 7-6 and, thanks to
His fourth season punctuated by an eight-game losing streak, Fairchild was fired in early 2012. He landed on
"There's not a lot of tradition (at Colorado State)," Lubick said of Fairchild's head-coaching tenure. "Sometimes you wonder how you did it. It's just hard to keep it going. You don't have the resources. You don't have the fan base.
"Colorado State, of the eight or nine teams (in the conference), we were always eighth or ninth, as funding goes. Eventually it catches up with you. … I know money doesn't buy victories and that's not everything. … But it's a harder job than people think it is. You have to have a little luck."
Lubick, who still lives near Colorado State's campus, also believes luck brought Fairchild the Cavaliers' way.
"The University of Virginia," he said, "got a fine football coach."
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP