The landscape has changed for Sonny Lubick.
Miami wanted Lubick two years ago, but the threat of NCAA probation was a factor in his decision to turn down the Hurricanes. Now, the politics of the bowl alliance could hasten his departure from Colorado State.
Maryland fired Mark Duffner a week ago today, and Lubick is the latest candidate to acknowledge an interest in becoming Terps coach. The others include Chuck Amato, assistant head coach for No. 1 Florida State, and Jerry Sandusky, defensive coordinator at Penn State.
San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen, a former Terps player and coach, is also considered a serious candidate, at least by Maryland boosters.
Lubick's name was first mentioned in College Park in early November, when speculation increased that Duffner would be dismissed. Sources at Maryland said that Lubick was initially cool to the idea of an interview, but he apparently changed his mind in recent weeks.
"I had not talked to anyone from Maryland until Saturday morning," Lubick told the media that cover Colorado State. "I really don't know a great deal about the job, but I probably would be foolish not to take a look."
Lubick, 59, took Colorado State to its greatest heights in 1994 and 1995, when it won its only Western Athletic Conference championships.
After the 1994 season, Lubick was considered the front-runner to to Miami and replace Dennis Erickson, who had left for the Seattle Seahawks.
The NCAA was breathing down Miami's neck over an assortment of violations the school admitted had occurred that led to probation. Instead of taking a job with the Hurricanes that paid a minimum of $700,000 per year, Lubick settled for a $10,000 raise in his base salary, which was $115,000 last year.
Lubick was a Montana State assistant from 1970-77, and the head coach there from 1978-81. He was Colorado State's offensive coordinator from 1982-84, was an assistant at Stanford from 1985-88 and was the defensive coordinator at Miami from 1989-92, when the Hurricanes won two national championships under Erickson.
Lubick followed Earl Bruce at Lubick Colorado State. Lubick's four-year record is 30-17 in a program that had experienced little success. If he stays at Colorado State, he'll bring back 19 starters.
Colorado State went 7-5, 6-2 in the WAC's Pacific Division where it was picked to finish in the middle of the pack. A 25-24 loss to Wyoming in the regular-season finale was the first time under Lubick that the Rams lost a game that they had led after three quarters, and it also knocked them out of the WAC title game.
The WAC is one of the four major-college conferences that was not included in the bowl alliance, and it has gone so far as to threaten legal action to get sixth-ranked Brigham Young (12-1) into one of the major bowl games this season.
Maryland has been to one bowl game since 1985, but the Atlantic Coast Conference has been a key player in the dealings that have brought about the Alliance, and the conference is guaranteed at least four bowl berths.
Colorado State apparently knows that Lubick's tenure could end after four years.
"If I am an AD and I have an opening, Sonny Lubick has to be at the top of my list," Colorado State athletic director Tom Jurich told the Denver Post. "I'm fully prepared for that. It's a terrific compliment to our program. We won't let him go without a fight. He's the one person who is irreplaceable."
Pub Date: 12/02/96