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Gene Chizik
Title Head coach
College Auburn
Sport Football
Conference SEC
Team record 8–5
Born December 28, 1961 (1961-12-28) (age 48)
Place of birth Tarpon Springs, Florida
Annual salary $2,100,000
Career highlights
Overall 13–24
Bowls 1-0
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
Broyles Award (2004)
Playing career
1981 Florida
Position Linebacker
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Central Florida (DC/DB)
Auburn (DC/DB)
Texas (Co-DC/AHC/LB)
Iowa State

Gene Chizik (born December 28, 1961 in Tarpon Springs, Florida) is the current head coach of the Auburn Tigers football team.[1] Previously, he was the head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones football team during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Chizik played linebacker at the University of Florida during the 1981 season.[2]



Chizik is married to Jonna Chizik. They have identical twin daughters named Landry and Kennedy, as well as a son, Cally.[3]

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.[3]

Coaching career


Coaching style

Chizik, as a defensive coordinator for Auburn University, began to show visibly his style of defense. He preferred a tough, physical brand of football. Chizik's conspicuous defensive style also lead the University of Texas to hire him prior to the 2005 season. He is known as a great communicator when it comes to recruiting, but is soft-spoken and often low-key at press conferences.

Early years

He began his coaching career at Seminole High School, 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, under secondary coach Bill Oliver.[4]

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.[3] 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 developed by then-Bucs head coach Tony Dungy, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and linebackers coach Lovie Smith.[5]

Chizik later employed a very similar scheme at Auburn, where he served again as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach 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,[6] and the total defense ranked 5th, which is the same ranking the 2003 team recorded.[7] 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.[8]

In 2005 he was hired by Texas Longhorns to serve as their co-defensive coordinator, assistant head coach, and linebackers coach.[9] 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.[10] In Chizik's first season, Iowa State finished 3-9, including a 15-13 upset victory over Iowa, and back-to-back wins against Kansas State and Colorado. The Cyclones also experienced a notable improvement on defense. In the year prior to Chizik's arrival, Iowa State was ranked 102nd nationally in total defense[11] and in Chizik's first year, they improved to 65th.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14][15][16]


Transition efforts

On December 13, 2008, Auburn University hired Chizik to succeed former head coach Tommy Tuberville, who resigned from the position after finishing 5–7 in the 2008 season.[17] 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. He is a high-energy coach that is an outstanding motivator and demands a tough, physical style of football."[18][19]

Many Auburn supporters and alumni - prominently including Charles Barkely - were vocally unsupportive of the hire. Barkley, who had previously endorsed Turner Gill for the position, criticized Auburn's passing over of Gill in favor of Chizik, saying "race was the No. 1 factor. You can say it's not about race, but you can't compare the two résumés and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst résumé."[20]

Chizik retained James Willis to continue coaching linebackers (although Willis would leave the school a month later) and then hired Gus Malzahn as his offensive coordinator, a hire lauded as Malzahn enjoyed the nation's top offense at Tulsa the previous two seasons. He subsequently hired nationally renowed coaches and recruiters, Curtis Luper and Trooper Taylor, to coach running backs and wide receivers. Chizik also brought special teams guru Jay Boulware from his ISU staff to be the special teams coordinator and hired former Auburn player Tracy Rocker away from Ole Miss to coach the defensive line. The final hire was UNC linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen as safeties coach.

Chizik's incentive-laden contract at Auburn is for 5 years with a salary of approximately $1.9 million per year, an $800,000 increase from his Iowa State contract.[21][22] Iowa State was paid a $750,000 buyout for Chizik's early departure.[23]

Chizik won his first five games at Auburn, matching his total over two years at Iowa State.

Notable accomplishments

  • Won 2004 Broyles Award, given to nation's top assistant college football coach
  • Became the first Auburn head coach to go to and win a bowl game in his first year as head coach when he led the team to a 38-35 overtime victory over Northwestern in the 2010 Outback Bowl.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
Iowa State Cyclones (Big 12 North) (2007–2008)
2007 Iowa State 3–9 2–6 T-5th
2008 Iowa State 2–10 0–8 6th
Iowa State: 5–19 2–14
Auburn Tigers (SEC West) (2009–present)
2009 Auburn 8–5 3–5 T-4th W Outback
2010 Auburn 0-0 0-0
Auburn: 8–5 3–5
Total: 13–24
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


  1. ^ "Gene Chizik Named Auburn Head Football Coach". Auburn University. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  2. ^ "Gene Chizik biographical information". Auburn University Athletic Media Relations. 2008-12-13. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  3. ^ a b c "The Gene Chizik File". 
  4. ^ "'The right guy:' Former coaches, players say Chizik is up to the challenge at Auburn". 
  5. ^ "Dallas Morning News: Defensive pursuit: Chizik getting UT's defense up to speed". 
  6. ^ "Chizik to coach Auburn". 
  7. ^ "Time will tell if Auburn made the right choice". 
  8. ^ "2004 NCAA Football Rankings - Final (Jan. 4)". 
  9. ^ Killian, Ryan (28 November 2006). "Longhorns lose defensive coordinator". The Daily Texan. Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  10. ^ "Gene Chizik Named ISU Football Coach". 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2006-11-28. 
  11. ^ "2006 FBS National Team Rank - Total Defense". NCAA. 2007-01-07. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  12. ^ "2007 FBS National Team Rank - Total Defense". NCAA. 2007-01-07. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  13. ^ "FANS SURPRISED". 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Iowa State's Chiznik to take over at Auburn". 
  18. ^ "Auburn names Chiznik head football coach". 
  19. ^ "Chizik's Response On Taking Auburn Job". 
  20. ^ "Lobbying for Gill, alum Barkley says Auburn should have hired black coach". ESPN. December 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  21. ^ Tate, Jay. "We have contracts". The Hottest Auburn Blog on The Net. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  22. ^ "Auburn coach Chizik to make $1.9M, plus incentives". Sporting News. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  23. ^ Goldberg, Charles. "Chizik's Auburn deal worth about $2 million a year". Birmingham News. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
Sporting positions
Preceded by
John Lovett
Auburn University Defensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
David Gibbs
Preceded by
Greg Robinson
University of Texas Defensive coordinator
2005–2006 (alongside Duane Akina)
Succeeded by
Larry Mac Duff
Preceded by
Dan McCarney
Iowa State Head Football coach
Succeeded by
Paul Rhoads
Preceded by
Tommy Tuberville
Auburn University Head Coach
Succeeded by
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Brian VanGorder
Broyles Award for Assistant Coach of the Year
Succeeded by
Greg Davis


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