Gene Chizik

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Gene Chizik (born December 28, 1961 in Clearwater, Florida) was the head football coach of the Auburn Tigers football team at Auburn University from 2009 to 2012. He won one BCS National Championship with the 2010 Auburn Tigers football team, but was fired when his 2012 team finished 3-9.

Early life

Chizik played linebacker for the Florida Gators during the 1981 season, competing in the Peach Bowl. He earned a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Florida in 1985, and went on to receive a master's degree in guidance and counseling from Clemson University in 1991.

Coaching career

Early years

Chizik began his coaching career at Seminole High School (Pinellas County, Florida), serving as their defensive coordinator and inside linebacker coach from 1986–1988. He then became a graduate assistant at Clemson from 1988–1989, working with the outside linebackers. During his time at Clemson he coached in the 1988 Citrus Bowl and the 1989 Gator Bowl.

His initial full-time coaching job was as the defensive ends coach at Middle Tennessee State University. He served in this capacity from 1990-1991. In 1990, the Blue Raiders won the Ohio Valley Conference championship. His next assignment was at Stephen F. Austin, serving as their linebackers coach from 1992-1995. SFA advanced to the Division I-AA semifinals in 1995. He was then promoted to the defensive coordinator role, which he held from 1996-1997. He then served as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach for Central Florida from 1998-2001.

While at Central Florida in Orlando, Chizik frequently visited practice sessions of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers studying the Bucs' defensive scheme, the so-called ‘Tampa 2’, developed by then-Bucs head coach Tony Dungy, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and linebackers coach Lovie Smith.

Chizik later employed a very similar scheme at Auburn, where he served again as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach under Tommy Tuberville from 2002-04. During this time, he had some of the greatest successes of his career to date. He coached in three bowl games, the 2003 Capital One Bowl, 2004 Music City Bowl, and 2005 Sugar Bowl. His 2004 defensive unit led the country in scoring defense, giving up 11.3 points per game, and the total defense ranked 5th, which is the same ranking the 2003 team recorded. He garnered the 2004 Broyles Award, which is given each year to the top assistant coach in the nation. He also guided Carlos Rogers to capture the 2004 Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the top defensive back in the nation annually. The 2004 Auburn Tigers football team finished 13-0 that year, won the SEC title, and defeated Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. It placed second in the final AP and Coaches polls.

In 2005 he was hired by Texas Longhorns to serve as their co-defensive coordinator, assistant head coach, and linebackers coach. During his time with the Texas Longhorns, the team won the 2005 NCAA Division I-A national football championship by defeating USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl. He also coached two Jim Thorpe Award winners in Michael Huff and Aaron Ross, who won the honor in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

Iowa State

In November 2006, Chizik was hired to replace outgoing coach Dan McCarney as head football coach of Iowa State University. McCarney resigned after going 4-8 in his final season, despite 5 bowl appearances during his tenure, the most of any Iowa State coach. Chizik's contract with ISU was a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $6.75 million. With incentives, the total had the potential to be more than $10 million. In Chizik's first season, Iowa State finished 3-9, including a 15-13 win over Iowa, and back-to-back wins against Kansas State and Colorado.

In 2008, Iowa State won their first two games against South Dakota State and Kent State before losing their final 10 games to finish the season 2-10. Among all 119 Division I FBS teams, the team ranked 111th in total defense, 115th in passing defense, and 95th in rushing defense. Following the season, Chizik fired two assistant coaches and demoted both his offensive and defensive coordinators. Chizik's name came up frequently as a coach who would be on the hot seat for the following season, though all acknowledged the difficulty of the job given the lack of resources and difficult schedule. ranked Iowa State's 2007, 2008, and 2009 recruiting classes 60th, 62nd, and 76th, respectively. The 2009 ranking was updated on December 13, 2008, the day of his hiring by Auburn. On the other hand, McCarney's last three classes ranked 42nd, 58th, and 63rd.

Once Chizik took the Auburn job, ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard stated in a press release: “I’m disappointed for our Iowa State fans and student-athletes that he has chosen to leave our program after only two seasons. I understand that (Auburn) is a dream job for him, but the timing and the way it played out has been hurtful and disappointing.”


On December 13, 2008, Auburn University hired Chizik to succeed former head coach Tommy Tuberville, who left the position after finishing 5-7 in the 2008 season. Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs released a statement that 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." Despite Jacobs' statement, reaction from college football insiders and Auburn fans about the hire was notably negative.

Chizik will be paid approximately $2 million per year, a $900,000 increase in his salary from Iowa State. Iowa State will be owed a $750,000 buyout for Chizik's early departure.

Chizik led the 2010 Auburn Tigers football team to a BCS National Championship. Throughout the season the program was dogged by rumors about the recruiting of star quarterback Cam Newton, about which Chizik remained tight-lipped. After the season, he won the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award, the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award, the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, and the Bobby Bowden Collegiate Coach of the Year Award.

Chizik was 33-19 overall and 15-17 in SEC play at Auburn. He had only one winning SEC season in four years, and was fired after the 2012 season, in which he was 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC.


  • Gene Chizik. (2008, December 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:21, December 14, 2008 [1]
  • Goldberg, Charles (November 25, 2012) "Auburn fires Gene Chizik after four years as coach." The Birmingham News
Preceded by:
John Lovett
Auburn University Defensive Coordinator
Succeeded by:
David Gibbs
Preceded by:
Tommy Tuberville
Auburn University Head Coach
Succeeded by:
Gus Malzahn