Auburn University Announces Changes in Football Program
Search for New Coach Begins - Search Committee Named
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Auburn head coach Gene Chizik, in his fourth year has led the program to more wins (30) than any coach in the school's rich football history in their first three seasons, including the program's first national championship in over 50 years, when his Tigers won the 2010 BCS National Championship.
In 2011, Chizik led a youthful team comprised of 65 percent scholarship underclassmen to an 8-5 mark and a victory over Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Auburn had the nation's second most difficult schedule, as it faced six teams that were ranked in the Top 10 at one point during the season.
Chizik's second season at Auburn was one for the ages as the program won the BCS National Championship over Oregon, 22-19, and the SEC Championship, while he earned Home Depot and Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year honors, as well as AP SEC Coach of the Year accolades. The 2010 Auburn squad went a perfect 14-0, recording the program's first title since 1957, and its first conference crown since 2004.
Auburn achieved success in 2010 despite a rugged schedule that included 10 games against bowl-eligible teams. In fact, Auburn was the only team in the country that won seven games against teams ranked in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll. Chizik has placed his stamp firmly on the Auburn program, including a "never say quit" attitude that saw Auburn rally from four double-digit deficits to win in 2010, including the largest comeback in school history when the Tigers turned a 24-0 deficit at Alabama into a 28-27 victory.
Chizik has also excelled in close games, as the Tigers won seven games in 2010 by single digits, including five games that were decided by just three points or less, which is the most in one season in school history. Auburn has won 11 games in his three seasons in which the Tigers trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter. Auburn players have achieved national awards under his guidance, as Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and the Davey O'Brien Award in 2010, while Nick Fairley won the Lombardi Award.
Auburn's success in 2010 started a year earlier, after Chizik inherited a team that had finished 5-7 in 2008 and he quickly began rebuilding the program. During his first season as Auburn's head coach, Chizik led the Tigers to an 8-5 record and a victory over Northwestern in the 2010 Outback Bowl on New Year's Day. He became the first head coach in school history to lead his team to a bowl game in his first season, just the third coach in Auburn history to win his first five games as head coach and only the third SEC coach since the conference expanded in 1992 to win his first five games.
Chizik's first Auburn squad set numerous team and individual records, including team records for most points and total yards in a season - records that Auburn broke again in 2010. The Tigers had a knack for playing well in big games, winning four games against teams that played in bowl games during the 2009 season. Auburn has not only enjoyed success on the field under Chizik's tenure, but they have excelled in building for the future as the Tigers had the No. 1 nationally ranked recruiting class in 2011 according to Scout.com, the No. 8 ranked class by Scout.com in 2012, and the No. 4 ranked class in 2010 both Rivals.com and ESPN/Scouts Inc.
In July 2011, Chizik released his first book, "All In:What It Takes to Be the Best", which chronicles his coaching career, the pivotal role his faith has played in his life and career, and his secrets to success, both on and off the field. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, David Thomas, a senior writer and columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, collaborated on the book with Chizik. All of Chizik's proceeds from the book have gone to The Chizik Family You Turn Foundation, Inc., which assists children and youth in the Auburn community.
The program's defensive coordinator from 2002-04, Chizik was named Auburn's 26th head coach on December 13, 2008, after serving the two previous seasons as head coach at Iowa State. A 23-year coaching veteran, Chizik helped Auburn and Texas to consecutive undefeated seasons in 2004 and 2005. His three-year stint as Auburn's defensive coordinator culminated in 2004, when he helped guide the Tigers to a 13-0 season while earning the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach. Chizik also served as the assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator at Texas from 2005-06 where he helped the Longhorns to a perfect season and national championship in 2005.
During his tenure at Auburn, Chizik's 2004 defense led the nation in scoring defense (11.3 ppg) and was fifth nationally in total defense, allowing just 277.6 yards per contest. In three years at Auburn, Chizik helped the Tigers to a 30-9 mark including an 18-6 Southeastern Conference record. In 2003, Auburn's defense was fifth nationally in total defense.
In his two seasons in Austin, the Longhorns were 22-3. At one point, he was a part of 29 consecutive victories, which began in 2003 at Auburn and ended in 2006 at Texas.
Chizik's reputation as an outstanding teacher is evident by the fact that he tutored a remarkable three consecutive Thorpe Award winners, starting with Auburn's Carlos Rogers in 2004, followed by Texas' Michael Huff and Aaron Ross in 2005 and 2006, respectively.
During his two seasons at Iowa State, the 46-year old Chizik was in the midst of a rebuilding process, directing the Cyclones to a 5-19 mark. The Iowa State administration rewarded Chizik's leadership and vision for the program by offering him a two-year contract extension following the 2008 season.
Chizik's first win came against intrastate rival Iowa in 2007, making him the first Cyclone coach since 1907 to beat the Hawkeyes in his inaugural season. The 2007 season also included conference wins over Kansas State and bowl-bound Colorado. Auburn's undefeated season of 2004 saw one of the best defensive teams ever to wear a Tigers uniform. Not only did they lead the nation in scoring defense, but they surrendered just four rushing touchdowns all season, including allowing none over the first eight games of the season. That vaunted 2004 defense featured eight of 11 starters that went on to play in the NFL, including 2005 first-round draft pick cornerback Carlos Rogers and defensive lineman Jay Ratliff, who earned All-Pro honors with the Dallas Cowboys in 2008.
The 2003 AU defense under Chizik was just as talent laden as the undefeated squad, as eight of 11 starters went on to play in the NFL as well. Led by first-team All-SEC picks Karlos Dansby, DeMarco McNeil and Dontarious Thomas, Auburn was fifth nationally in total defense, seventh in rushing defense and ninth in the country in scoring defense.
By allowing less than 300 yards of total offense in consecutive seasons in 2003 (281.6 ypg) and 2004 (277.6 ypg), it marked the first time at Auburn since a six-year run from 1985-90, that an Auburn defense had accomplished the feat in back-to-back campaigns.
In his first season at Auburn, Chizik took a club that was 39th nationally in total defense the season before he arrived and improved it to 26th in the country while holding three Top 10 teams - LSU, Alabama and Penn State - to less than 10 points each en route to victory.
During his 39 games at Auburn as defensive coordinator, the Tigers were able to defeat nine Top 10 programs, win three bowl games, and hold 24 of 39 opponents to two touchdowns or less, including 14 that managed single digits against his aggressive, physical defenses.
He also tutored three All-Americans in Dansby, Rogers and Junior Rosegreen and had nine players earn 10 first-team All-SEC honors. Chizik had 10 players over three seasons that went on to be NFL draft picks. Chizik's defense played an integral part in Texas' 2005 national championship season as the Longhorns ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense, 10th in total defense and fourth in pass efficiency defense. UT allowed opponents to reach 300 yards of total offense only five times in 2005 and held the remaining eight opponents to less than 267 yards. Ten UT defenders were all-Big 12 Conference selections, including four who made the first team.
In 2006, Chizik's Longhorn defenders were second nationally against the rush (58.8 ypg.) after 12 games, including limiting No. 1 Ohio State to just 79 yards on the ground. His aggressive schemes resulted in 100 tackles for loss, 96 quarterback hurries and 30 takeaways during the 2006 regular season. Chizik coached six Longhorns to All-American honors in his two seasons, including Aaron Harris, Michael Huff and Rod Wright in 2005, and Tim Crowder, Michael Griffin and Aaron Ross in 2006. His defensive players earned 18 All-Big 12 awards during his tenure.
Prior to his arrival at Auburn, Chizik was the defensive coordinator for four seasons (1998-01) at Central Florida, where he improved a unit that was 81st nationally in total defense before his arrival to one that was 16th in the country in 2001.
Chizik spent six seasons at Stephen F. Austin from 1992-97, overseeing the linebackers (1992-94) and secondary (1995-97). While at Stephen F. Austin, Chizik helped the Lumberjacks to back-to-back NCAA Division I-AA playoffs, including a national semifinal appearance in 1995.
He began his coaching career as defensive coordinator (1986-88) at Seminole High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., before becoming a graduate assistant at Clemson for a pair of 10-win teams in 1988-89. Chizik's first full-time college coaching position came at Middle Tennessee State, where he helped lead the Blue Raiders to NCAA Division I-AA playoffs in both of his seasons (1990-91) and to a conference championship in 1990.
Chizik earned his B.A. degree in education from Florida in 1985 and his M.A. in guidance and counseling from Clemson in 1991.
A Clearwater, Fla., native, Chizik and his wife, Jonna, have identical twin daughters, Landry Grace and Kennedy Danielle, and a son, Cally.
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