Auburn coach Gene Chizik traveled to Bristol, Conn., Monday morning to participate in the "ESPN Car Wash." He joined other Southeastern Conference head coaches in doing interviews on ESPN television and radio shows.
Auburn oach Gene Chizik talks with ESPN"s Chris Fowler/Todd Van Emst photos
Chizik appeared on Sports Center early Monday afternoon for an interview with Chris Fowler, on Scott Van Pelt's radio show and did a live online chat. He talked about the news that the NCAA had come down hard on Penn State, Auburn's offense and defense and paying in the brutally difficult SEC West.
On the challenges facing Penn State coach Bill O'Brien
"I think this is where your leadership skills are really going to get put to the test. ... It’s crisis mode.There’s no question about it. He’s going to have to have a plan. He’s going to have to sit down with his staff, which I’m sure he’s already done today, and say ‘Where are we going from here? The first thing we have to do is re-recruit our own football team.’ That’s what he’s going to have to do. He’s going to have to get into a team meeting and re-recruit his own football team to stay there.
"Then he’s going to have to recruit his recruits that he’s been recruiting. There’s going to have to be a plan in place, and it’s not a plan for four or five years down the road. They’re in crisis mode. It’s going to have to be a plan, where they say, 'ey, this is what it’s going to look like tomorrow and a week from now, and this is our plan to get us through this. We want you to be a part of this.' "
On the penalizing of Penn State with no hearing, no NCAA investigation
"Obviously, we don’t have all the facts. The NCAA and Mark Emmert, they do have all the facts. ... It’s unprecedented action for an unprecedented situation. Again, there’s going to be a lot of rhetoric and a lot of talk about the sanctions handed down, whether they were too much or too little, and I don’t know that anybody’s at liberty to know whether it was or wasn’t. But you know they did all their homework, they spent a lot of time evaluating all of the information, and we don’t have that.
"That’s one thing I learned going through what we went through, there’s a lot of outside opinion and a lot of things that look one way, but until you have all the information, you don’t know. So Mark Emmert and the NCAA handed down the sanctions they did because they had all the information, and they did what they thought was right."
On the 2012 defense under first-year coordinator Brian VanGorder
"No. 1, we’re one year older. I think that there’s some valuable experience gained in our league, no doubt about it. Bringing in Brian and changing the mindset and the culture of defense at Auburn, I think he’s done a fantastic job. His resume speaks for itself. He came from the NFL, where he did a great job with the Atlanta Falcons, so this is a guy that’s proven. I think his body of work tells his story.
"Our kids have bought into it wholeheartedly, our kids are one year older, and we wholeheartedly expect to play much better defense here at Auburn this year."
On the offense under first-year coordinator Scot Loeffler
"Conceptually, as the head coach, I want to run the football at Auburn, and we’ve found different ways to do that over the years. That’s kind of where Scot Loeffler came from. He came from Michigan, played at Michigan. Tthat was kind of their mindset back then. But he’s got kind of a different flavor of different offenses and experiences. He was Tim Tebow’s coach at Florida, so he’s got a little bit of background of what we’ve done the last three years as well.
"We’re going to take our players, and we’re going to say, 'Look, this is what we want to do, but you also have to understand you have to adapt to the players you have. We’re going to do a little bit of everything, but we do have a concise concept and a very tight plan of what we want to do. Scot’s done a great job for us."
On the challenge of playing in the SEC West
"Right now, it’s real simple. Four of the last five national champions have come from the SEC West, so that pretty much tells the story, but every week, it’s a great challenge. That’s what’s great about the whole league, but particularly the West. Every week it’s great players. Every week it’s great coaching. Every week it’s the passion and the pageantry of the game. That’s what makes our side of the league so great. Tthat’s what makes the whole league so great, and we’re just blessed to play in it.