I’m surprised at the number of people I interact with who are somewhat opposed to firing Steve Fairchild. Tweets, texts, friends, family, random dudes in CSU hats, whatever. I was skeptical coming into this season and I became completely anti-Fairchild after the homecoming loss to San Jose State. I’ve already moved on and started looking for new coaches, but apparently I may have gotten ahead of myself.
Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post wrote an interesting and in-depth article that was posted online Tuesday afternoon weighing the complications of keeping or firing Fairchild. I encourage you to read the article here.
The chief arguments for sticking with Fairchild are these, followed by my rebuttal (a term I usually save for beer pong):
The biggest issue in firing Fairchild is, naturally, money. He has one more year left on his five-year contract and will make $700,000 next season if he is retained. The obvious argument here is that a school like Colorado State cannot afford to pay two coaches at once.
My response to that is simple: Do what ya gotta do. Kowalczyk made a mistake with this hiring and we all end up paying for our mistakes, financially or otherwise. In other words: Yes that is a lot of money, but too damn bad.
Another point that cannot be overlooked here is the recruiting situation with a lame duck head coach. It’s tough to imagine Fairchild being granted a contract extension, and a struggling coach in the final year of his contract isn’t attractive to young recruits. Competing schools would undoubtedly let recruits know that CSU’s staff probably won’t be there much longer.
Can we afford to throw an entire season of recruiting in the toilet for the sake of saving money? I understand $700,000 is not chump change, but waiting a year to fire Fairchild would prove very costly in its own right.
Most of Fairchild’s supporters point out that the players who are leading this team are all young kids, which is actually a pretty strong argument. Chris Nwoke has had a breakout year to say the least. Garrett Grayson has shown some promise as a true freshman. Shaquil Barrett, Mike Orakpo, Nordly Capi, Crockett Gillmore and Weston Richburg are all sophomores making huge contributions as starters. They argue that Fairchild has done a great job recruiting and this team will be very good in a couple years. Firing Fairchild may even cause some of these kids to transfer schools.
My response: Let’s not get too caught up in how many stars a kid has next to his name coming out of high school. Pete Thomas was the greatest recruit for CSU in years; Fairchild’s crown jewel. He’s had his time to prove himself and hasn’t done it. Yes, all of these sophomores are leading the team, but the team is getting beat every week.
After Air Force pounded CSU, Tim Jefferson, the Falcons’ senior quarterback said, “No offense to CSU, but we moved the ball down the field way too easily against a Division I defense.” That’s a classy kid from a service academy saying he didn’t think the Rams looked like a Division I team.
That’s not exactly saying, “They have a lot of young talent. I was impressed with some plays those guys made. They should have a great team a couple years down the road.”
This 2011 team has been hit very hard with injuries. Mychal Sisson is our best player and he was out for the bulk of the year. Pete Thomas is going to miss the last three games of the year. E.B. Smith missed some games.
My response: Don’t wanna hear it. Every team gets hit with injuries; next man up. If Fairchild is such a good recruiter, we should have a deep enough team to beat UNLV and San Jose State regardless of who is stuck on the sidelines. I don’t remember injuries hitting the Rams this hard in 2010 or 2009 and we went 3-9 each of those seasons too.
Keeping Fairchild would be a simple case of overthinking the situation. We can talk all we want about potential, about attitude, about tough luck, and even about money.
The truth is simple and it’s right in front of our eyes. Colorado State has descended to the bottom of the college football world over the past three years. Nine wins, 26 losses– soon to be 27 after Wyoming heads back to Laramie with the Bronze Boot Saturday– while playing in the Mountain West Conference (and not exactly traveling to SEC country in non-conference games).
Things have gone from frustrating, to disappointing, to sad, to embarrassing. CSU fans are too proud, if not apathetic, to put up with this for another year. Listen, I understand Colorado State isn’t Oklahoma or LSU, but this isn’t Louisiana Tech or Portland State either. This is a program with a tremendous history and strong tradition. This is a university located in one of the nation’s best cities with a huge alumni base just down the road in Denver, a major market and one of America’s great sports towns.
Colorado State football can be a very respectable college football program. Unfortunately– and it is unfortunate, because he’s a proud Ram and a good person– I don’t think they ever will be with Steve Fairchild running the show.
Don’t overthink it, Paul Kowalcyzk, it’s time to move on.