Posted: 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013
By Brian Schwartz
When the Virginia athletics department announced the departure of Jim Reid and the reassignment of Anthony Poindexter, Wahoo fans were confused: how did offensive coordinator Bill Lazor manage to escape the firestorm? The issue resolved itself quickly, when Lazor announced his departure for the Philadelphia Eagles in late January. Though Lazor did lead two solid offensive years, the 2012 campaign featured an often dysfunctional unit that was plagued by uncertainty at quarterback.
Steve Fairchild was hired shortly thereafter to assume the roles of offensive coordinator as well as quarterbacks coach.
In the first part of our "Meet the Coaches" series, we praised the depth of new special teams coordinator Larry Lewis's experience, which spans 32 years. Fairchild continues this pattern, as he has coached for 31 years at both the college and professional levels. Most recently, he was senior offensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers. Before that, Fairchild wore a variety of hats, including a four-year head coaching stint at his alma matter, Colorado State (where he worked with Lewis), and offensive coordinator jobs both in college and in the NFL, with the Bills.
His years in the NFL have led Fairchild to favor a pro-style offense, as former OC Bill Lazor did. However, indications are that he will be less rigid in its application. In his preview of the Virginia offensive unit, Tiki examined Fairchild's teams' past results. He summarized his findings, noting, "Fairchild has coordinated some good offenses with strong talent, and some bad offenses with no talent. He's had some run-heavy offenses and some pass-heavy offenses. It seems like the most telling thing about these numbers is that Fairchild is adaptable to the talent he has to work with."
After Fairchild was hired by the Chargers, our friends across SB Nation with the Chargers talked to those with Mountain West Connection about the coach's performance. They described him as a generally conservative play-caller (possibly because of the lack of talent on the offensive side), who placed a heavy emphasis on the rushing attack. However, he has also led offensives that were extremely pass-heavy, like the 2003-2005 Rams.
Thus, while Fairchild will stick to his philosophy ("We certainly want to use a pro-style offense,") the specifics of Virginia's 2013 offensive attack are still uncertain. Fall camp to date has featured a wide diversity of looks, from the pistol to the read option, as Fairchild learns about his personnel. Ultimately, the offense should be an adaptation of the standard pro-style look that is geared toward's the team's strengths. These include Watford's scrambling ability, KP Parks and Smoke Mizzell's explosiveness, and the WR corp's depth; thus, at least some use of the read option, for example, is likely.
One interesting wrinkle to the offensive plan is the inclusion of Tom O'Brien as Associate Head Coach of Offense. Though having too many cooks in the kitchen is generally a legitimate concern, the experience of the two coordinators should assuage any fears. Upon being hired, Fairchild described O'Brien's presence as an "appealing part" of the job.
Check out this video to view an excerpt of UVA's new offensive coordinator's interview on media day.
Here's Steve Fairchild's full resume:
1982-83 - San Diego Mesa College (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers)
1984-85 - Ferris State (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Running Backs)
1986 - San Diego State (Tight Ends/Recruiting Coordinator)
1987-89 - New Mexico (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)
1990-92 - San Diego State (Quarterbacks)
1993-96 - Colorado State (Quarterbacks)
1997-00 - Colorado State (Offensive Coordinator)
2001-02 - Buffalo Bills (Running Backs)
2003-05 - St. Louis Rams (Offensive Coordinator)
2006-07 - Buffalo Bills (Offensive Coordinator)
2008-11 - Colorado State (Head Coach)
2012 - San Diego Chargers(Senior Offensive Assistant)
2013-___ - Virginia (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)