Auburn, Ala.--Two seasons after leading the Tigers to a 14-0 season and the BCS Championship, Gene Chizik is out as head football coach at Auburn. The coach told his players the news that he has been fired at a Sunday afternoon team meeting that was originally scheduled for later in the afternoon, but moved to 1 p.m.
Chizik’s fourth season in charge of the program got off to a poor start and never got better, ending in a 49-0 loss on Saturday at Tuscaloosa on Saturday to archrival Alabama. The head coach called the setback “embarrassing” and “sad” after his team was dominated starting in the opening period.
Athletic Director Jay Jacobs led the search for hiring Chizik. Auburn University president Dr. Jay Gogue is calling the shots for the next hire with Jacobs lending advice. During the season Gogue issued a statement that the coach and his program would be evaluated after the season, which came to an early end with the Tigers not going to a bowl game for the first time since 2008.
Replacing the coaching staff will cost the university $11.09 including money guaranteed to the seven assistant coaches as well as the two first-year coordinators, who have two-year contracts with Auburn. Chizik's portion of the buyout is slight more than $7 million dollars, Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said.
Jacobs noted that he told Chizik on Saturday night about his decision to recommend a coaching change. The athletic director said he called Dr. Jay Gogue on Sunday morning about that recommendation, which the university president agreed with, setting in motion the decision to fire the coach.
Chizik headed into the 2012 season with a 30-10 record. At that time his .750 winning percentage was the best in Auburn history of the 26 men who have coached for the Tigers for more than one season.
After struggling to a 3-9 finish this year, the worst record for any Auburn team since the 1950 squad finished 0-10, Chizik’s final head coaching record with the Tigers is 33-19, a .635 winning percentage.
Auburn ended the 2012 season 0-8 in Southeastern Conference, the first time the Tigers finished a year without a league victory since Coach Doug Barfield’s Tigers were 0-6 in the conference and 5-6 overall in 1980, his fifth and final season at AU.
Under the direction of new coordinators for 2012, Brian VanGorder on defense and Scot Loeffler on offense, the Tigers had major issues on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
The offense never could consistently move the football changing from Gus Malzahn’s no-huddle, spread formation style of play to a pro-style attack. Defensively, the Tigers continued to play out of a base 4-3 front, but made large numbers of changes in how they handled that.
Chizik spent seven seasons at Auburn including his time as defensive coordinator.
Chizik’s 2010 team set a school record for the most victories in a season and he was honored with the Home Depot, Liberty Mutual, Bear Bryant and Bobby Bowden national coach of the year awards.
That team set SEC single-season records for total offense with 6,989 yards and first downs with 344. The 2010 Tigers also set school records for total points (577), points per game (41.2) and yards per game (499.2) while producing the Heisman Trophy (Cam Newton) and Lombardi Award (Nick Fairley) winners.
In his transition year taking over the program in 2009, the Tigers won eight games and closed the season with an exciting overtime victory over Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.
Chizik, who will turn 51 in December, also worked at Auburn as defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Auburn from 2002-2004 for Coach Tommy Tuberville. He came to Auburn from Central Florida, where he was defensive coordinator.
In 2004 he won the Broyles Award that is presented to the nation’s top assistant coach. He left Auburn after the Tigers’ undefeated 2004 season and joined Coach Mack Brown’s staff at Texas as defensive coordinator. The Longhorns finished unbeaten that season and won the BCS Championship.
Chizik left Texas for Iowa State where he spent two seasons at the Big 12 school before being hired by Auburn. He posted records of 3-9 and 2-10 in Ames before returning to Auburn.
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