Bills’ offensive coordinator replaces Lubick at Colorado State
DENVER – Sonny Lubick was Steve Fairchild’s mentor. Now, the Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator is replacing Lubick, the college coaching icon who was fired after 15 seasons at Colorado State.Fairchild, a former Rams quarterback and assistant coach, was named the school’s 19th head coach Wednesday.”We are pleased that Steve Fairchild, with his significant coaching expertise and history at Colorado State, is going to return to his roots as a champion for our football program,” Colorado State President Larry Edward Penley said in a statement released by the Fort Collins school. “His positive reputation precedes him.”Lubick was in Montana for family reasons and couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. However, his son, Marc, who worked as an assistant coach under his father, said his dad is pleased with the decision.”He likes Steve and is impressed with him,” Marc Lubick told The Associated Press. “The hire makes sense. I think Steve was the best guy they could’ve gotten. He worked well with my dad and he’s been successful at the next level.”Marc Lubick was let go after the season but is likely to be rehired. Other assistants of Sonny Lubick also were terminated.Fairchild, 49, was a member of Lubick’s inaugural staff at Colorado State. He was the quarterbacks coach from 1993-96 before taking over as the Rams’ offensive coordinator for four seasons. Colorado State won five conference titles in his eight years as an assistant coach.He left for Buffalo in 2001 to serve as the Bills’ running backs coach for two seasons. Fairchild is in his second season as the Bills’ offensive coordinator after tutoring under Mike Martz with the St. Louis Rams.”I really think a lot of Steve Fairchild,” Bills coach Dick Jauron said after practice Wednesday. “You never want to lose a tremendous coach. But you do want him to advance.”Fairchild won’t leave the Bills until after the conclusion of the season. The Bills (7-6) are in the middle of the AFC playoff race with three games remaining in the regular season.Colorado State officials understand his commitment to Buffalo.”We knew from the outset and were comfortable with the dedication he has to his team,” said CSU athletic director Paul Kowalczyk, who will have an introductory teleconference with Fairchild on Thursday. “It is that type of value system – commitment, integrity, honesty, accountability and responsibility – that had him at the top of our list since the beginning.”Denver Broncos fullback Cecil Sapp, one of several former CSU stars who were critical of Lubick’s ouster, applauded Fairchild’s hiring Wednesday.”I know that he’s a great offensive mind,” Sapp said. “We were averaging like 30 points a game when he was there, so he knows what he’s doing and he’s a real good coach.”Sapp said it was important that the new coach had a strong recruiting reputation and CSU roots: “Yeah, keep it in the family because he’s going to do his best, he’s going to go out there and recruit the best athletes that he possibly can. He just wants to get that program back rolling, try to get back on top where we’re supposed to be.”The Rams are borrowing a page from Mountain West Conference adversary Air Force by hiring an NFL assistant coach to take over the program.The Falcons named Troy Calhoun their coach last year after the retirement of Fisher DeBerry. Calhoun, who was lured away from the Houston Texans, was recently named the league’s coach of the year after guiding the Falcons to a 9-3 record and a spot in the Armed Forces Bowl.The Rams are hoping the approach serves them well, too.”He (Fairchild) has had a reputation of developing young players and helping them reach their maximum potential,” Kowalczyk said. “That is an attractive trait in our program.”Colorado State linebacker Jeff Horinek was just thankful the process was complete, and the Rams know who will be running the show next season.”He has a solid reputation,” Horinek said of Fairchild. “He seems to be a good fit.”Tom Ehlers, the director of football operations, labeled Fairchild a “great hire.” Ehlers was the defensive line coach at CSU when Fairchild was in town.”He’s unflappable,” said Ehlers, who was kept on after Lubick’s firing to oversee the transition period.Lubick was asked by Kowalczyk to step down a few days before the Rams’ season-ending win over Wyoming on Nov. 23. But Lubick refused because he did not want to quit on his team.He led the Rams to nine bowl games and at least a share of conference titles in six seasons, compiling a 108-74 record along the way.Lubick has been asked to stay on with the school as a fundraiser, but hasn’t made a decision yet.—AP Sports Writers John Wawrow in Buffalo and Arnie Stapleton in Englewood, Colo., contributed to this report.
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