As the Rams look at another possible 3 win season the question pops to Steve Fairchilds future. Will he be the Rams Head Coach another year? His 5 year contract is up following the 2012 season. The injuries have been abundant this year and at critical positions. After this week I believe running back will be the only position that hasn't lost a man to injury or suspension. QB if Pete Thomas comes back. OL has been torn apart, DL has lost everyone but CJ James at one point. Only three opening day starters on defense have not missed a game, eight players total have started every game. That means that 63% of Fairchild's starters have gone down for one reason or another at one point. The patch job has not been pretty. I will break it all down by recruiting, money, and on field product.
Recruiting is a toss up in some eyes. I personally love the athleticism that Fairchild has brought to the program. Nordly Capi and CJ James are great pass rushing DE's. Chris Nwoke is the new Predator. He did bring in faster then light Thomas Coffman, Tony Drake, and Lou Greenwood. Don't forget his possibly two biggest recruits in giant DT Isiah Norton and high school famous Kapri Bibbs who had grade issues but are still reported to join CSU when possible. Faichild brought in stud LB's Mike Orakpo and Shaq Barrett. His offensive line is full of NFL pickups but not players which is good for CSU, Weston Richburg was a freshman All-American. He pulled 4 star recruit Pete Thomas from Arizona St. He pulled starting DT John Froland from Northwestern. He pulled former fast man Tony Drake from Michigan. The coaching staff deserves credit too, but Fairchild has targeted Texas, Florida, and California as areas to find athletes. The talent level is higher then before and is growing each year despite losing records. Fairchild gets a pass in recruting.
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Money is another issue when your not bringing any money in for the programs. Losing is hitting the budget hard this year. Fans just are not showing up.
Fairchild is pulling in $700,000 a year. $350,000 from base salary and the other $350,000 from other incomes such at TV and media. This helps CSU out by only really paying half his salary. Also Fairchild has failed to meat any incentives in his contract for better or worse. Fairchild got close by getting to a bowl game but needed 7 regular season wins in 2007. The incentives won't tip the contract though, it would be good for the program if he starts to hit some of them. Against the rest of the MWC Fairchild is in the middle to lower end in a way giving the Rams a "deal". I am not sure they can afford to pay his replacement between $700,000-$900,000 and pay Fairchild his share. I vote for keeping Fairchild on at least his final year on the money front. Its a good deal for the Rams, why pay two coaches?
The playing field is where it gets dicey for Fairchild. This new Grayson/Thomas quarterback issue isn't helping either. Fairchild was 100% behind Thomas, a knee sprain shook his world up? It looks very desperate for Fairchild. He is looking for a way out of the hole he put himself in, but looking desperate doesn't look good on him or the program. I understand finding out what you got in Grayson, but it appears he is ditching out on Thomas already.
Past the QB controversy is the play calling and play of his recruits. The creative great play calling from his first year with Gartrell Johnson and Billy Farris is about gone. Despite the trick touchdowns against Boise St the offense has been fairly predictable. The point to where its like watching Sonny Lubicks last year of coaching, not good. Instead of loving the run play Fairchild loves a bubble screen or any other screen. His athletes aren't really built for his offense which leads to a odd predicament.
Recruits good. Scheme good(potentially). The two are just not meshing and that is where Fairchild is really running into his problem. Separately there isn't really an issue, but it is not gelling together. Not yet, and will it is the question? Is it the play calling? The athletes?
Fairchild needs to start tailoring his offense to his recruits. Or his recruits to his offense. That is the real issue for CSU football as I see it. All the pieces of the puzzle are nice but if they don't fit together then it doesn't work. Fairchild could use a few work lunches with Tim Miles on figuring out how to get the pieces to fit and fit consistently.
In the end I think Fairchild deserves one more year. The lame duck coach theory is weak in my mind so I think its ok in CSU's case to go into the final year without an extension. If the players believe in the coach a contract shouldn't get in the way. Fairchild always says competition is good, make him earn an extension by winning games next year. Make him prove the program is turned around. Tim Miles got a couple years to turn it around and he only has 5 guys on the court. Give Fairchild his 5th year to turn around 22 guys.