Auburn University fired Gene Chizik two seasons after he coached the school to its first national football championship since 1957.
Chizik’s stint with the Tigers ended a day after the team lost 49-0 against the second-ranked University of Alabama to finish the season winless in the Southeastern Conference and with a 3-9 overall mark. Chizik, 50, went 33-19 in four seasons at Auburn and had a 15-17 record in conference play.
“After careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of our football program, I have recommended that coach Chizik not be retained,” Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said in a statement on the school’s website. “Earlier this morning, I informed coach Chizik that he will not return as head coach.”
Auburn, led by quarterback Cam Newton, defeated Oregon 22-19 in the Bowl Championship Series title game in Glendale, Arizona, on Jan. 10, 2011. Newton was subsequently selected by the Carolina Panthers with the first overall pick in the 2011 National Football League draft.
“We will long cherish the memories of our first national championship in 53 years,” Jacobs said.
Auburn will pay $11.09 million to buy out the remainder of the contracts for Chizik and his nine fulltime assistants, the school’s statement said. Chizik will be paid monthly through the 2015-16 fiscal year, it said. Chizik will receive $7.5 million, AP said, while payments may drop depending on future employment.
After going undefeated in the 2010 season, Auburn dropped to an 8-5 record last year and this year had their worst season since 1950, when they began 0-10. The slump is the worst in the two years after winning a national title since the Associated Press poll began in 1936, the news agency said.
“I’m extremely disappointed with the way this season turned out,” Chizik said in a statement. “When expectations are not met, I understand changes must be made.”
The search for a successor will be led by three former Tigers -- 1971 and 1985 Heisman Trophy winners Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson, and Mac Crawford, former Chairman of CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS), the largest provider of prescription drugs in the U.S.
“The search committee will work hard and work smart,” Jacobs said. “We will be thorough and thoughtful as we look for someone with a track record as a proven winner, a commitment to playing within the rules and a focus on student-athlete academic success.”
Also today, North Carolina State University fired football coach Tom O’Brien following a 7-5 season.
O’Brien compiled a 40-35 record in six years at the school, going 22-26 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Coach O’Brien’s service to N.C. State over the last six years has been sincerely appreciated,” Director of Athletics Deborah A. Yow said in a statement on the school’s website today.
Offensive coordinator Dan Bible will serve as interim coach while a search for a replacement is conducted. All assistants have been retained and will have the opportunity to pursue positions with the new head coach, the school said.
Under O’Brien, the Wolfpack won the 2011 Belk Bowl and 2010 Champs Sports Bowl, and lost the 2008 PapaJohns.com Bowl.
“I’m proud of the young men that I have coached here, for their accomplishments on the field and in the classroom,” O’Brien said in the school’s statement. “I appreciate all of my coaches and wish them the best and I look forward to life after football.”
North Carolina State completed its regular season with a 27-10 win yesterday over Boston College, where O’Brien was head coach from 1997-2006.
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