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Lubick relieved as Colorado St. coach; no word on future

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick
shed tears, thanked players and coaches and joked in a farewell
news conference Tuesday about how he has to do the dishes now.

Lubick, 70, showed no hint of bitterness toward the school that
had just let him and his coaching staff go.

"I'll be a Ram until the end of time," Lubick said. "This
episode over the last few days doesn't change anything for me."

Lubick was asked by athletic director Paul Kowalczyk to step
down a few days before the Rams' season-ending win over Wyoming
last Friday.

But he wouldn't quit on his team, so he refused to step aside.
The Rams finished 3-9 this season and he wanted a chance to turn it
back around.

"He told us he wanted to come back," Colorado State senior
quarterback Caleb Hanie said. "He said, 'I would never quit on you
guys.' That's what we wanted to hear from him."

Hanie said it was difficult listening to Lubick's farewell
speech in front of more than 200 friends, faculty, players and
supporters.

"I think he deserves to leave whenever he wants," Hanie said.
"He earned that right. But you can see where the school is coming
from. That's what the game has evolved to, it's a
what-have-you-done-for-me-lately type of thing. Sometimes, you
forget what coaches have done for you."

There were some former players outraged over the Rams' decision
to oust Lubick and his staff. Lubick has been the face of the Rams
for the past 15 seasons. 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.

"I'm [expletive] about the way things were handled," former
receiver Pete Rebstock said. "I'm not happy with the way it all
played out."

Kowalczyk extended an olive branch to Lubick, attempting to
bring him back as a fundraiser and goodwill ambassador.

However, Lubick isn't sure what he wants to do yet.

"I have no plans. It's too early to speculate," Lubick said.

Lubick became highly emotional when he talked about his
assistant coaches, who were all dismissed except for director of
football operations Tom Ehlers, who will be kept on to oversee the
transition period.

He recounted stories about how offensive coordinator Dan
Hammerschmidt was offered a position once at Louisville and how
secondary coach James Ward was being courted by California.

Yet both coaches elected to stick by Lubick's side.

"How can you not be loyal to guys that give up their whole damn
life for you?" Lubick said, fighting back tears as his wife, Carol
Jo, comforted him. "The wins and losses come and go, the
relationships will not."

Lubick certainly made plenty of friends along the way.

"He is a very class guy," Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said
Tuesday. "He has done a lot for football."

New Mexico coach Rocky Long said the conference is losing one of
its finest coaches.

"We fashioned our program after Colorado State because he did
it without all the bells and whistles," Long said. "He did it by
recruiting good people and players who played hard. They won
championships and they won with class. He's a great coach."

Kowalczyk has no timetable for hiring a new coach. He's already
received calls about the vacancy, but wouldn't reveal any names.
Kowalczyk said he would like to consult with Lubick before hiring a
new coach.

"I'd be foolish not to," he said.

Before his news conference, Lubick was in the hallway, giving
his players pep talks as if it were game day. He called over
freshman running back John Mosure and hugged him.

"You're going to be a good one," he said.

That's just typical Lubick, trying to comfort players until the
very end.

"Everybody got to shake his hand and give him a hug and let him
know how much he's meant to us," Hanie said. "I don't think you
find anybody to fill his shoes. They're not going to be able to, as
far as being a coach and mentor to everybody."

Lubick was asked if he was bitter over the way things went down
at the end. He simply said, "What's done is done. It's over and
down the road. That's the way she goes. I'm not going to get caught
up in that."

Lubick had his chances to bolt Colorado State. Schools like
Miami, where he was defensive coach on two national champions,
Minnesota, Kentucky and Oregon State all tried to talk to him at
one point in his tenure with the Rams.

However, the city had grown on him and his family. He couldn't
leave.

"It was, for me, the perfect fit," Lubick said.

On Tuesday morning, he got up early to work out, went to his
favorite coffee shop in town -- where he was given his traditional
free cup -- and bantered with some locals, one even offering him his
vacation home in Hawaii for a week.

He began to choke up talking about how good the town has been to
him.

"I walk downtown and people say, 'Coach, coach, coach,'"
Lubick said. "That's good. That's good."

His players, like the town, thought the world of him.

"This is hard for me because I came here from Miami because of
him," junior running back Gartrell Johnson said. "He has been more
than a coach to me."

Lubick was given a two-minute standing ovation before his
speech. The applause grew even louder when he was finished.

"When I took this job, every year after the first year, I kept
pinching myself saying, 'When is the bubble going to burst?'"
Lubick said. "The players kept getting better and better, and
playing better and better, and we kept going on. But you're not
going to keep everything going on forever."

Now, it's on to other things -- like dishes.