Two weeks ago, Virginia announced the hire of Steve Fairchild as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Last year, Fairchild was the senior offensive assistant for the San Diego Chargers after spending four seasons as the head coach at Colorado State. He inherits an offense that was No. 93 in the country in scoring last year at 22.75 points per game. I caught up with Fairchild recently to help introduce him to UVa and ACC fans.
Here are the highlights of our conversation:
What are you looking forward to about this job? Why was it the right fit for you?
Steve Fairchild: I spent most of my career coaching quarterbacks and as an offensive coordinator, so I was looking to do that again. I was also very impressed with this university and the ACC, so it piqued my interest. As the process started to unfold, getting to know Mike London was probably the thing that sold me most on it. It just seemed like the right fit.
Tell me just a little bit about your offensive philosophy. What can ACC fans expect from you?
SF: We’d like to try to install a pro-style offense here. Obviously as we get to know our players better as we go through spring football, we’ll adapt to whatever we’re doing, to what our players do best, and obviously to try to identify our playmakers. But we’d like to start with a pro-style offense, be balanced, have a physical mentality running the football, try to create some big plays and spread the field with the passing game.
I know you were with the San Diego Chargers, but you also have collegiate experience. Without trying to put you on the spot, is there one you prefer more, colleges or the pros?
SF: There’s plusses and minuses for both. I’ve gone back and forth a little bit. This was more about the job description and the people. I’ve worked with Larry Lewis, who’s on the staff here now. I’ve known Tom O’Brien for a while. And then getting to know Mike London. I feel very good about the people, very good about the job description. It felt like the right fit.
You’re a Colorado State grad, too, right?
SF: My wife and I both.
How familiar are you with recruiting around the ACC area?
SF: I’ve recruited, I just haven’t been in the ACC, so I’m sure I’ll be brought up to task on that. I’ve recruited out this way, in terms of area, so I don’t think it will be a big adjustment.
Virginia’s quarterbacks have been a big storyline there for I feel like as long as I’ve been covering the ACC. How familiar are you with Phillip Sims and David Watford, and what’s that situation look like going into the spring, or is it too early to even ask you about that?
SF: It’s probably a little early to ask. I’ve looked at a little tape. I didn’t want to look at too much and get any preconceived ideas, but we’ll open up the quarterback job to a very spirited competition here as we go into spring football. We’ve got four guys on the roster that we all think have a chance, so we’ll see where it goes.
You talked a bit about your offensive philosophy. How much do you have to change? How big of an adjustment is this going to be for Virginia this offseason?
SF: I don’t know because I’m not totally familiar with what when on here last year in terms of scheme and terminology. I’ve got a basis for where we’re going to start, and that’s what we’re doing this next month, is create our system with Tom O’Brien and all of the other coaches on offense. There are a lot of talented guys there. We’ll see. It will be an adjustment, no doubt, because it’s different than what they’ve done, but hopefully not too big of a learning curve.
Do you have any goals for this spring as far as what percentage of the playbook you want to install?
SF: No, I don’t have any idea on how much we’ll get installed. We’ll make a determination each day if we can go forward and how much. I just like to establish in the spring the way we practice, the way we go about the game, protect the football, the tempo we play at. Usually the first two or three practices are establishing those things.