Dec. 13, 2008 PHOTO GALLERY
Gene Chizik, a former Auburn defensive coordinator and current head coach at Iowa State, has been named the head football coach at Auburn University, Athletics Director Jay Jacobs announced Saturday.
Chizik, who helped Auburn and Texas to consecutive undefeated seasons in 2004 and 2005, will be formally introduced as Auburn's 26th head coach at a press conference Monday.
Chizik, a 23-year coaching veteran, was Auburn's defensive coordinator from 2002-04, where he helped guide the Tigers to a 13-0 season in 2004 while earning the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach. He 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.
"I'm extremely proud and excited to have Gene returning to Auburn to take over as head football coach of this program," Jacobs said. "I know that we have found the right fit for Auburn. Gene's body of work during his 23 years in this profession is remarkable. He has a strong knowledge of this athletics program, this university and the community, and he knows how to be successful in the Southeastern Conference. He is a high-energy coach that is an outstanding motivator and demands a tough, physical style of football. I'm confident that Gene can build upon the foundation that has been established and make this a program that competes for championships on a consistent basis."
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 a 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 two seasons in Austin, the Longhorns were 22-3 with Chizik. 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.
"Through my travels in coaching over the last 23 years, there's one place that I've always wanted to return to and that is Auburn," Chizik said. "The tradition of the Auburn football program combined with the passionate fans and their love for Auburn are second to none. My family and I are Auburn through and through, and look forward to being part of the Auburn family and community."
"I am dedicated to working tirelessly to win championships," Chizik said. "We will not be outworked in any facet of the building process. I'm excited to get on the recruiting trail, meeting with the current players and reconnecting with past players. We want to develop young men into champions not only on the playing field, but in the classroom and in the community."
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 this 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.
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 son, Cally.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT GENE CHIZIK
Mack Brown, Texas Head Coach
"Gene is a terrific football coach and a good man with a great family. He did a great job for us at Texas and was very instrumental in leading our defense in the 2005 National Championship season. He had the guys well prepared, did a nice job managing practices and games and we could always tell he was going to be a successful head coach at some point. As good of a coach he is, he is equally as good at building relationships, which is one of the main reasons I think he'll do a terrific job running the Auburn program. He's a guy I will always be pulling for and look forward to following him at Auburn as I did at Iowa State."
Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins, Former Auburn All-American Running Back
"Good for us. He was our defensive coordinator during our undefeated season in 2004. I hope he gets things turned around and gets more former players involved (in the program)."
Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN GameDay, ESPN/ABC College Football Analyst
"I think it's an outstanding hire....if you look a little bit deeper, the fact that he was the defensive coordinator the year that Auburn had that magical year where they were undefeated and left out of the national championship, you might understand it. If you look at the success he had as defensive coordinator at Texas, you might understand it. And if you look at the man that he is and the way he can represent this (Auburn) university, me personally, I think it's an outstanding hire. Auburn, congratulations, you go a great one."
Michael Huff, Former Texas All-American, 2005 Thorpe Award Winner
"Coach Chizik is a high-energy, excitable guy, the kind of coach that makes it fun to get to work every day. We had a great time with him at Texas and he always had us ready for whoever we were playing and helped us all improve as players. I'm really happy that he has the chance to be the Auburn coach and definitely will be pulling for him."
DeMarco McNeill, Former Auburn Defensive Tackle
"Coach Chizik is a good, hard-nosed football coach. He tells it like it is. He would tell you when you were doing things the right way, but he'd get on you and tell you when you weren't. As a player, that's all you can ask from a coach. He got the most out of his players. I got a smile on my face when I heard (that he had been hired). I was kind of like everyone else, a little anxious to see who we hired as head coach. But I think he was the best candidate out there and Jay (Jacobs) did a great job of going and getting him."
Jay Ratliff, Dallas Cowboys, Former Auburn Defensive Lineman
"I love Gene Chizik. When he was there I loved and enjoyed playing for him. He simplified the defense and we enjoyed playing under him. He made practice fun. It was intense but it was fun. He's a straight shooter. He's going to tell you just how it is. I think he's definitely a player's coach and any player that plays under him is going to love him."
Carlos Rogers, Washington Redskins, Former Auburn All-American, 2004 Thorpe Award Winner
"This was the best decision Auburn could have made. Coach Chizik was like a dad to me. From a player and student point of view he's exactly what Auburn needs in a head coach."
Dontarrious Thomas, Minnesota Vikings, Former Auburn Linebacker
"Gene Chizik will make a great addition for Auburn. He knows the game of football and knows how to motivate and relate to young athletes. He knows how to motivate them to be successful not only on the field but in the classroom and in the game of life. He will be a blessing for the players and for Auburn University."
Reggie Torbor, Miami Dolphins, Former Auburn Defensive End
"I played for him my last two years. He's a great coach and good man. He told me something once that I have never forgotten, `Never let your character be dictated by your circumstance.' He told me that after a bad loss at LSU. I think he'll do a good job and was a good choice. He really knows defense."
Carnell Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Former Auburn All-American Running Back
"Coach Chizik is a players' coach. Even though he was on the defensive side of the ball, he taught all of us the importance of hard work. He's the kind of coach recruits hope to get to play for, and I think this is a great hire. I'm excited for Auburn."