Auburn has fired 2010 coach of the year award-winner Gene Chizik, according to Bruce Feldman, after a woeful 2012 campaign that's seen the Tigers rank among the country's worst teams in almost every major category, drop SEC games against multiple teams with far fewer resources and lesser expectations, accrued multiple NCAA investigations (one ongoing), come within an overtime field goal of losing a Sun Belt game, get blasted off the field by archrival Alabama and finish without a single conference win. In all, Auburn became the worst team two years removed from a national title in college football history.
Said Chizik in a statement, "When expectations are not met, I understand changes must be made. I'm extremely disappointed with the way this season turned out and I apologize to the Auburn family and our team for what they have had to endure."
Say it again: Auburn has fired Gene Chizik two seasons after Cam Newton, Nick Fairley, Michael Dyer and Gus Malzahn helped lead the Tigers to their second national championship. Two seasons! Things are amazing!
After that title run, Auburn fell to 8-5 in 2011 before the wheels went flying to the ends of the earth.
Chizik's staff recruited well, fielding consistent top classes, but couldn't translate all that talent into success on the field, especially on the offensive side of the ball during the end of Malzahn's time as offensive coordinator and through to 2012. The next coach should have capable players to work with, I'm saying.
AU's search committee is Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Mac Crawford.— Jay G. Tate (@JayGTate) November 25, 2012
As for replacements, expect hot Sun Belt names Willie Taggart, Mark Hudspeth and Todd Berry to be mentioned as candidates, along with Sonny Dykes of Louisiana Tech. Arkansas State's Gus Malzahn could be a candidate as well, but that could be awkward, you know.
Auburn has the resources to hire just about anybody they want, however, so expect big names to enter the conversation as well -- Jimbo Fisher rumors have circulated for quite a while now, but disregard those. To be honest, since this is a SEC job, go ahead and plunk in every possible candidate name you can fathom right here.
In one of his last major acts, Chizik brought on the sedate Scot Loeffler from Temple as OC and SEC veteran Brian VanGorder from the Atlanta Falcons to replace Ted Roof, who engineered several of the worst defenses in Auburn history.
But after disastrous losses to Vanderbilt and Arkansas and a blowout against Ole Miss, among other losses, only that significant contract buyout and national championship goodwill stood in Chizik's corner.
Before taking over at Auburn, Chizik famously went 5-19 as the boss at Iowa State, which has had reasonable success both before and after his tenure. He landed with the top job at the Plains due to his run as the Tigers' defensive coordinator from 2002 through 2004, which included an unbeaten season. And then there's this:
Total buyout for Chizik and assistants is just over $11 million.— John Zenor (@jzenor) November 25, 2012