Auburn fired coach Gene Chizik after the 2010 BCS National Championship was followed by dismal seasons. Was the firing deserved?
The Tigers won the BCS National Championship in 2010 with future No. 1 overall draft pick Cam Newton under center in an improbable run to the national title.
But since being crowned champs of college football, Auburn had the worst slide of any champion, going 8-5 in 2011 and 3-9 this year, including a winless campaign in SEC play.
"I had hoped our team would show some improvement this season," Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said in a statement. "Unfortunately, it didn't. The competition in our league is fierce. I decided we could not risk falling further behind by waiting for another year and hoping for improvement."
Chizik said in a statement that he understood Jacobs’ decision.
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"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," he said. "In my 27 years of coaching, I have gained an understanding of the high expectations in this profession. When expectations are not met, I understand changes must be made."
Chizik’s hiring was met with controversy, and Jacobs was harassed at an airport shortly after making the move. Some Auburn fans thought Chizik was not qualified to coach in the SEC, pointing to his 5-7 record in 2009 at non-contending Iowa State.
Chizik’s players were not happy with the firing, but they also understood that the team needed to go in a different direction.
"It was tough. When you love somebody, it's tough," defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker told USA Today about the decision to fire Chizik. "But at the end of the day, it's the business that we all live in, and they have to make a business decision."
Auburn’s national championship is mostly credited to Newton, and some sports observers downplayed the significance coaching had on the 2010 team.
Blogger Tim Carlson said Chizik’s firing is “proof that a lot of coaches could have coached Cam Newton to a National Title.”
Yet others felt Chizik needed more time to right the ship.
“Disappointed in AU for letting Coach Chizik go. A national championship winning coach deserved a little more time. Wish him the very best,” wrote Auburn alumnus Sarah Beth Kirbo on Twitter.
Whatever your take on the decision, Twitter users aren’t crying for Chizik due to his monstrous buyout package.
Auburn will be paying its ex-coach $57.5 million through 2015 based on the buyout clause in Chizik’s contract.