Gene Chizik: A Just Fire at Auburn … And A Just Hire?

 
on November 26 2012 3:42 PM

He deserved it.

For anyone bemoaning the firing of Gene Chizik on Sunday as head football coach at Auburn University, try to keep that in mind.

Yeah, he came in with a flourish of success … and he is departing with a flourish of the opposite.

It is the nature of the business. Put up or perish. Either win or go home … or head off to the next gig.

Yeah, his Tigers stood atop the BCS nation following the 2010 season. They also dropped off to 8-5 the next year and were an abysmal 3-9 this one … with off-the-field issues starting to rear their ugly heads.

As strange as it may seem to some that Auburn would cut ties with Chizik so soon after leading the Tigers to the promised land, there were just as many, if not more, confused at his hiring on the Plains four years ago.

Coming off a 5-19 run at Iowa State, he hardly was a hot commodity. Back then, the push was for Turner Gill to get the job. The former Nebraska quarterback had taken Buffalo to a bowl game the year before, and remained the hot name as much for his racial profile as for his X-and-O acumen.

Auburn officials took a major hit by opting for Chizik then. His performance at Iowa State hardly warranted the hiring. Then again, Gill’s effort in upstate New York hadn’t exactly merited him being the guy, either.

Chizik also had the connection … and more of a pedigree. For several years, he had been considered the country’s top assistant. He also was the defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2004 when the Tigers went 13-0 and at Texas a year later when the Longhorns went 13-0. Those squads finished second and first, respectively, in the BCS nation.

In short, could it be that things just worked out as they were supposed to work out? Chizik came in, got the job done, led the Tigers to the promised land … and that was it. His time at Auburn had run its course – just as Pat Dye’s had, just as Tommy Tuberville’s had.

For the record, Gill received his step-up gig anyway, shortly after Chizik accepted the one at Auburn. Kansas swept in and got Gill, and he rewarded the Jayhawks with the same 5-19 mark Chizik earned at Iowa State. He was summarily dismissed and has landed at FCS-level Liberty.

Thing is, no one should shed a tear for either Gill or Chizik. Their firings came with respective $6 million and $7.5 million buyouts. Both can wipe away the tears with hundred-dollar bills … and never notice a dent in their personal revenue.

DID YOU NOTICE? …

In the frosty euphoria surrounding Penn State’s 24-21 overtime victory to close out the most emotional season in that program’s history, head coach Bill O’Brien, while being interviewed on national TV, managed to blurt out an F-bomb framed description of his players that he later changed to “fighters” in his next reference. It was an unbelievable faux pas for a leader of me who, frankly, is deserving of coach of the year consideration, and, yet, he hardly has received a raised eyebrow in his direction.

The cold, the emotion … whatever the excuse, none of it flies. O’Brien has set a standard for class ever since his hiring last January, and this, regardless of how brief it happened to be, was a major step down from that.

To those who may say, well, as offenses by PSU coaches go … intimating a free pass is in order for what transpired, ponder this: Isn’t letting things go how all the problems got started in Happy Valley in the first place?

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