Gene Chizik's time at Auburn is done. Less than two years after winning the 2010 BCS national championship, he was told Sunday he will not return as Auburn's head football coach.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik leaves with 10 consecutive losses
Athletics director Jay Jacobs made the official announcement early Sunday afternoon.
A search for a new head coach will begin immediately. Among the candidates who have been mentioned are Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, Arkansas State head coach and former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, former Arkansas head coach and Auburn offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino and St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.
Chizik's meteoric rise from a coach who was 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State to the coach of a national championship team was followed by a historic collapse that ended with last Saturday's 49-0 loss at Alabama.
Auburn finished the 2012 season 3-9 and became the first in school history to go 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference. Chizik became the first Auburn coach to oversee a nine-loss team since Earl Brown went 0-10 in 1950, opening the way for the arrival of future Hall of Famer Shug Jordan.
Chizik finished his Auburn career with a four-year record of 34-19. In six seasons as a head coach he was 38-38.
It was widely expected that Chizik would have a rebuilding job to do after the national championship. But, with three recruiting classes ranked in the top 10, he was not able to be consistently competitive against Auburn's biggest rivals, going 4-12 against Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Arkansas. He beat none of them in any season other than 2010.
Auburn finished the 2012 season with 10 consecutive SEC losses dating back to 2011. Eight of them were by 17 points or more.
Chizik won the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach in 2004 as Auburn's defensive coordinator. He left after three seasons to be defensive coordinator at Texas and was named head coach at Iowa State in 2007.
Because of his 5-19 record, his return to Auburn was controversial. He arrived with 10 consecutive losses.
Chizik's 2009 Auburn team did better than projected, going 8-5 and taking eventual national champion Alabama to the wire before falling 26-21 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Chizik signed quarterback Cam Newton in December of that year, setting the stage for perhaps the greatest season in Auburn history.
Newton won the Heisman Trophy. Along with All-America defensive tackle Nick Fairley, freshman running back Mike Dyer and more than two dozen seniors, Chizik led Auburn to a 14-0 record and a 22-19 victory over Oregon in the BCS Championship Game.
Though the 2011 Auburn team won more games than most expected, the five losses were all by 14 points or more. Four of them were by 24 points or more.
In the summer of 2012, Chizik said in an interview with AuburnUndercover that his program was on schedule.
"When I came in four years ago, I was able to see how this was going to unfold," Chizik said. "All we had to do was look at the roster. Obviously, there are some games we should have done better in. There are also some games that, on paper, maybe we shouldn't have won but we did.
"Overall, I feel great about where it is. I still feel like we are going to skin our knees and our elbows a little bit as we grow up some more. But where I envision this as far as being on track, it's not far off the mark."
But the blowout trend continued in the 2012 season, and Chizik's fourth Auburn team collapsed. Of Auburn's nine losses, only a 26-19 loss to Clemson in the opener and a 12-10 loss to LSU were by fewer than 17 points.