DENVER — Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild was hired Wednesday to replace Sonny Lubick as Colorado State's football coach.

Fairchild, a former Rams quarterback and assistant coach, takes over a team that finished 3-9 last season, leading to the firing of Lubick after 15 years in charge.

"We are pleased that Steve Fairchild, with his significant coaching expertise and history at Colorado State, is going to return to his roots as a champion for our football program," CSU president Larry Edward Penley said in a released statement. "His positive reputation precedes him."

Fairchild, 49, was Colorado State's quarterbacks coach from 1993-96 before taking over as the Rams' offensive coordinator for four seasons. Colorado State won five conference titles in his eight years as an assistant coach on Lubick's staff.

He left for Buffalo in 2001 to serve as the Bills' running backs coach for two seasons.

Fairchild, who was at Buffalo's practice Wednesday in his familiar blue sweats, is in his second season as the Bills offensive coordinator after tutoring under Mike Martz with the St. Louis Rams.

He won't leave the Bills until after the conclusion of the season. The Bills (7-6) are in the middle of the AFC playoff race with three games remaining in the regular season.

Colorado State officials understand his commitment to Buffalo.

"We knew from the outset and were comfortable with the dedication he has to his team," said CSU athletic director Paul Kowalczyk, who will have an introductory teleconference with Fairchild on Thursday. "It is that type of value system — commitment, integrity, honesty, accountability and responsibility — that had him at the top of our list since the beginning."

John Schmidt, a prominent Colorado State donor and fundraiser, is in favor of the hiring. Schmidt was critical of the firing of Lubick.

"The healing process has started," Schmidt said. "I know the reactions of the Lubicks is going to be positive. I challenge for somebody to find fault with Steve Fairchild."

The Bills offense has struggled this season under Fairchild, ranking 28th in the NFL in yards per game.

The offensive production been hampered by a revolving door at quarterback, in which rookie Trent Edwards recently supplanted veteran J.P. Losman for a second time this season. Fairchild has blamed the offensive inefficiencies on the constant change at quarterback.

A former quarterback at Colorado State, Fairchild takes over for Lubick, who was asked by Kowalczyk to step down a few days before the Rams' season-ending win over Wyoming on Nov. 23. But Lubick refused because he did not want to quit on his team.

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.

Lubick has been asked to stay on with the school as a fundraiser, but hasn't made a decision yet.