Gene Chizik

Gene Chizik
Chizik at Centennial Olympic Park, 2018
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1961-12-28) December 28, 1961
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Playing career
1981 Florida
Position(s) Linebacker
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1986–1987 Seminole HS (FL) (DC/LB)
1988–1989 Clemson (GA/OLB)
1990–1991 Middle Tennessee (DE)
1992–1994 Stephen F. Austin (LB)
1995 Stephen F. Austin (DB)
1996–1997 Stephen F. Austin (DC/DB)
1998 UCF (DC/LB)
1999–2001 UCF (DC/DB)
2002–2004 Auburn (DC/DB)
2005–2006 Texas (co-DC/AHC/LB)
2007–2008 Iowa State
2009–2012 Auburn
2015–2016 North Carolina (DC)
Head coaching record
Overall 38–38
Bowls 3–0
Accomplishments and honors
1 National (2010)
1 SEC (2010)
Broyles Award (2004)
Home Depot Coach of the Year (2010)
Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award (2010)
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (2010)
SEC Coach of the Year (2010)

Eugene T. Chizik[1] (born December 28, 1961) is a former American football coach and former player. He was most recently the defensive coordinator at North Carolina from 2015–2016. He served as the head coach of the Auburn football team from 2009 until the end of the 2012 season.[2] Chizik's 2010 Auburn Tigers football team completed a 14–0 season with a victory over Oregon in the BCS National Championship Game. Chizik played college football at the University of Florida in 1981 for head coach Charley Pell.[3]

Coaching career

Early years

Chizik began his coaching career at Seminole High School, serving as their defensive coordinator and inside linebacker coach from 1986 to 1988. He then became a graduate assistant at Clemson from 1988 to 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 from 1990 to 1991. In 1990, the Blue Raiders won the Ohio Valley Conference championship. His next assignment was at Stephen F. Austin State University, serving as their linebackers coach from 1992 to 1995. SFA advanced to the Division I-AA semifinals in 1995.[5] He was then promoted to the defensive coordinator role, which he held from 1996 to 1997. He then served as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach for Central Florida from 1998 to 2001.

While at Central Florida in Orlando, Chizik frequently visited practice sessions of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers studying the team's defensive scheme developed by then-Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and linebackers coach Lovie Smith.[6]

Chizik later employed a very similar scheme at Auburn, where he served again as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach from 2002 to 2004. 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.[7] He garnered the 2004 Broyles Award, which is given each year to the top assistant coach in the nation. 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, Chizik was hired by Texas to serve as their co-defensive coordinator, assistant head coach, and linebackers coach.[9] During his time at Texas, the team won the 2005 NCAA Division I-A national football championship by defeating USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl.

Iowa State

In November 2006, Chizik was hired to replace outgoing coach Dan McCarney as head football coach of Iowa State. McCarney resigned after going 4–8 in his final season, despite five 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 2008 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]


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.[16] 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."[17][18]

Chizik first retained James Willis to continue coaching linebackers. However, less than one month later, Willis left Auburn to coach for the University of Alabama. Ted Roof would eventually replace Willis and serve as Auburn's linebacker coach and defensive coordinator. Roof had previously been the defensive coordinator at Minnesota before coming to Auburn. Chizik hired Gus Malzahn as his offensive coordinator. Malzahn enjoyed the nation's top offense at Tulsa the previous two seasons. He subsequently hired Curtis Luper and Trooper Taylor, both of whom were coaching at Oklahoma State, to coach running backs and wide receivers. Chizik also brought Jay Boulware from his ISU staff to be the special teams coordinator and hired former Auburn player Tracy Rocker away from Arkansas to coach the defensive line. The final hire was UNC linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen as safeties coach.

Chizik's incentive-laden contract at Auburn was for five years with a salary of approximately $1.9 million per year, an $800,000 increase from his Iowa State contract.[19][20] Iowa State was paid $750,000[21] by Chizik to be released from his contract which was paid by a loan from Auburn that is forgiven $150,000 for every year Chizik coaches, and will be paid off entirely if he reaches the end of the five-year deal. For the BCS Championship winning 2010 season, Chizik earned a base salary of $2.1 million plus bonuses worth an additional $1.1 million, including $500,000 for 13 wins, an SEC title, a BCS bowl appearance and winning the AP SEC Coach of the Year and an additional $600,000 for winning the BCS Championship Game.[22][23]

In his first year, Chizik led the Tigers to the 2010 Outback Bowl, a fairly quick turnaround for a team that went 5–7 the year before. The next year, he led the team to a 14–0 record and the BCS National Championship—the first undisputed national championship in school history. With the loss of several players from that team who opted to go pro, Chizik's third team slipped to 8–5. The 2012 season, however, was more than disappointing as the team finished 3–9 and was outscored 150–21 in its final three SEC games—including a 49–0 loss to Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Overall, Auburn went 33–19 during Chizik's tenure as head football coach. However, not counting the 2010 national title season, his record was 19–19, including 7–17 in SEC play.[24] Indeed, the 2010 season was the only winning conference record that Chizik had as a head coach at both Iowa State and Auburn.

Chizik was released after four seasons, and his termination cost Auburn $11.09 million. Chizik got $7.5 million based on his December 1 contractual buyout amount and assistant coaches will get the remainder.[25]

North Carolina

Chizik was named defensive coordinator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on January 19, 2015.[26] He inherited a unit that had given up 497 yards per game in 2014; only three other teams in Power 5 conferences had surrendered more yards per game. The 2014 team ranked 120th nationally in overall defense. Through 11 games, Chizik's defense had surrendered 384 yards per game, a major factor in the Tar Heels going on a school record eleven-game winning streak and earning their 1st ACC Coastal Division championship.[27] Chizik's 2015 and 2016 defense units ranked 96th and 63rd nationally, respectively. Chizik resigned in February 2017 to be closer to his family in Auburn, Alabama.[28]

Personal life

Chizik is married to Jonna Chizik, the daughter of his high school football coach.They have identical twin daughters named Landry and Kennedy, as well as a son, Eugene Calloway "Cally".[5] Cally is named after a former player that Chizik coached at Stephen F. Austin State University, Calloway "Cally" Presley Belcher. Belcher and Chizik had a very close relationship and Chizik named his son Cally in honor of Belcher who died of a brain aneurysm after suffering a hit to the head in practice.[29]

Chizik earned a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Florida in 1986, and went on to receive a master's degree in guidance and counseling from Clemson University in 1991.[5]


Head coaching record

Year Team Overall ConferenceStanding Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Iowa State Cyclones (Big 12 Conference) (2007–2008)
2007 Iowa State 3–92–6T–5th (North)
2008 Iowa State 2–100–86th (North)
Iowa State: 5–192–14
Auburn Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (2009–2012)
2009 Auburn 8–53–5T–4th (Western)W Outback
2010 Auburn 14–08–01st (Western)W BCS NCG11
2011 Auburn 8–54–44th (Western)W Chick-fil-A
2012 Auburn 3–90–87th (Western)
Auburn: 33–1915–17
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

Coaching tree

Assistant coaches under Gene Chizik who became NCAA head coaches:


  1. Cosdon, Christina K. (May 21, 2002). "Longtime Largo High principal dies at 80". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  2. "Gene Chizik Named Auburn Head Football Coach". Auburn University. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
  3. "Gene Chizik biographical information" (PDF). Auburn University Athletic Media Relations. 2008-12-13. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
  4. 'The right guy:' Former coaches, players say Chizik is up to the challenge at Auburn Archived 2012-10-06 at the Wayback Machine.. (2008-12-16). Retrieved on 2012-11-25.
  5. 1 2 3 "The Gene Chizik File". Archived from the original on 2009-02-04.
  6. Brown, Chip (2005-08-28). Defensive pursuit: Chizik getting UT's defense up to speed. Dallas News
  7. "Time will tell if Auburn made the right choice". Archived from the original on 2011-08-09.
  8. 2012 NCAA College Football Polls and Rankings for Week 14 – ESPN. Retrieved on 2012-11-25.
  9. Killian, Ryan (28 November 2006). "Longhorns lose defensive coordinator". The Daily Texan. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. 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 » Top Sports » – Cullman, Alabama. Retrieved on 2012-11-25.
  14. Real Insight. Real Fans. Real Conversations Archived December 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.. Sporting News. Retrieved on 2012-11-25.
  15. Beaton, Kelly (2008-11-28). "Cyclones hope growth pains over". Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  16. Dienhart, Tom (2008-12-13). Iowa State's Chizik to take over at Auburn Archived December 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine..
  17. "Auburn announces Chizik as head coach". December 13, 2008.
  18. Chizik's Response On Taking Auburn Job | KCCI Home – KCCI Home Archived 2012-03-07 at the Wayback Machine.. (2008-12-14). Retrieved on 2012-11-25.
  19. Tate, Jay. "We have contracts". The Hottest Auburn Blog on The Net. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  20. "Auburn coach Chizik to make $1.9M, plus incentives". Sporting News. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  21. Goldberg, Charles. "Chizik's Auburn deal worth about $2 million a year". Birmingham News. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
  22. Novy-Williams, Eben; Eichelberger, Curtis (2011-01-11). "Auburn Football Coach Gene Chizik Earns $600,000 Bonus With National Title". Bloomberg.
  23. Badenhausen, Kurt (2011-01-11). "Auburn And Coach Gene Chizik Set To Break The Bank With BCS Title". Forbes.
  24. "Auburn Fires Gene Chizik, Looks for New Coach". WPMI-TV. 2012-11-25. Archived from the original on 2013-11-09. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  25. "Auburn on the hook for $11.09 million in buyouts for Gene Chizik, assistants". 2012-11-25. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  26. "Gene Chizik named Defensive Coordinator". GoHeels. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  27. "NCAA National Rankings". Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  29. Schmitz, Brian. (2000-08-15) Ucf Defensive Coordinator Names Son In Remembrance Of Beloved Former Player – Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved on 2012-11-25.
  30. "Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award". ASAMA – The American Sport Art Museum and Archives. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved 6 Oct 2012.
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