(RNN) – Two years removed from a BCS national championship, Auburn has fired the coach that led the program to the title.
Gene Chizik was dismissed as the head coach of the Tigers (3-9, 0-8) one day after a humiliating 49-0 loss to archrival Alabama. In a statement on the Auburn website, athletic director Jay Jacobs said the school could no afford to wait and risk falling further behind the competition.
"That is why after careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of our football program, I have recommended that Coach Gene Chizik not be retained. President Gogue has accepted my recommendation. Earlier this morning, I informed Coach Chizik that he will not return as head coach," Jacobs said in the statement. "While I am disappointed that Coach Chizik's career here has come to an end we will long cherish the memories of our first National Championship in 53 years. Gene and his staff will always be a part of the Auburn Family, and we wish them and their families the best."
In all, it has been an unprecedented fall for a coach who lifted the BCS National Championship trophy only two years prior, the second in Auburn's history. Chizik leaves Auburn after four seasons as the head football coach. He also served three years as the team's defensive coordinator, from 2002 through 2004.
The Tigers closed the season as one of only two SEC teams to not win a conference game, and rumors of violations swirling around them. Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday that the NCAA was investigating the Auburn football program, and two recruiters – assistant coaches Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper – had been taken off the road.
Neither Chizik nor Auburn officials have responded to questions on the matter.
Chizik accepted the position of Auburn head football coach before the 2009 season, and he led the Tigers to an 8-5 record and a win in the Outback Bowl that year. As they played in the New Year's Day bowl game that year, the program announced a big win in recruiting as well – a junior college quarterback named Cameron Newton.
Newton took over as QB in 2010 and went on two have one of the greatest seasons by a player in NCAA history. Despite off-the-field turmoil involving his family and rumors of recruiting violations at other schools, "Super Cam" helped his coach lead Auburn to a perfect season.
The campaign was capped by a Heisman Trophy for Newton, a 22-19 victory in the BCS title game against Oregon and multiple "Coach of the Year" honors for Chizik. It was Auburn's first national title since 1957.
Chizik followed up the season with an 8-5 record in 2011, as the team toggled between Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley at signal-caller after Newton left for the NFL.
In 2012, a season of unknowns quickly turned into a season of disappointment for Chizik and his staff. With new offensive and defensive coordinators, as well as a new starting quarterback, the Tigers faced a difficult schedule to open the season.
The team nearly pulled off an upset in the opening game against a ranked Clemson squad but fell short, 26-19. Things did not improve the second week as the Tigers looked unimpressive against SEC rival Mississippi State in a 28-10 loss.
Auburn secured its first win of the season by beating Louisiana-Monroe, although it took a field goal in overtime to do so. A 12-10 loss against the third-ranked LSU Tigers made it appear the young team was moving in the right direction, even as it dropped Auburn to a 1-3 record.
The optimism of the season quickly faded for Tigers fans, as they got beat the following week by another team whose season had been on the downward slope – Arkansas. Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates' public statement about a lack of leadership on the team only fueled speculation it could become Chizik's final year.
Two more SEC losses against better-than-expected teams Ole Miss and Vanderbilt had murmurs of Chizik on the hot seat growing louder.
Auburn went 2-2 in the next four weeks, gaining victories over 1-7 New Mexico State and FCS school Alabama A&M. But games against Texas A&M and Georgia showed how far the Tigers were from the elite-level teams of the conference, losing by a combined score of 111-21.
In five seasons as a head coach (including two years at Iowa State), Chizik compiled a record of 38-38. As a defensive coordinator, he aided in consecutive undefeated seasons for two different teams: Auburn in 2004 and Texas in 2005.
Other stops in his coaching career included assistant positions at Central Florida, Stephen F. Austin, Middle Tennessee State and at Clemson as a graduate assistant.
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
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