Chizik Taking Role As Interim Coordinator

Gene Chizik discusses taking on the temporary role as defensive coordinator with Ted Roof gone.

Auburn, Ala.--Gene Chizik begin his coaching career working with linebackers and coordinating the defense at Seminole, Fla., High School in 1986. Now, 25 years later, the Auburn head football coach is temporarily taking on at least one of those assignments, and possibly both.

With Ted Roof, Auburn's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach the past three seasons, gone to the University of Central Florida, someone has to handle those roles as Auburn prepares for a New Year's Eve bowl game vs. Virginia.

"I will be serving as defensive coordinator for the bowl game," Chizik said on Thursday, noting he doesn't have a time line in place for replacing Roof.

"We are always going to take our time, and do our due diligence, when it comes to finding the right fit for Auburn," the coach said.

Asked if his comment means that he will wait until after the bowl game to name a new defensive coordinator, Chizik said, "I will never say that, but it would be really hard for a guy to come in here and be the defensive coordinator in a week."

Asked what he is looking for in his new hire, Chizik said, "My criteria is that I want to get a defensive coordinator at Auburn that fits Auburn the best and can stop the opponent I don't know where he might come from, but those are two very important components of the guy I would like to hire."

Chizik said that he is still working through the details of who will coach the linebackers in preparations for the Chick-fil-A Bowl game.

"We will work through the structure of all of that," Chizik said, discussing how he will be handling the duties as a coordinator and head coach at the same time. "Obviously, my time consumed is going be a large part with that. I will be involved like I always am."

Chizik added he is "not quite there yet" concerning the structure of the coaching setup for the defense. "When we start practice next week (on Monday), we will have it all in place by then," he said.

Chizik coached linebackers on the college level as a graduate assistant at Clemson in 1988 and 1989. His first full-time college position was coaching defensive ends at Middle Tennessee State in 1990 and 1991.

He coached linebackers at Stephen F. Austin from 1992-1994. He switched to the secondary in the 1995 at Stephen F. Austin and continued to coach defensive backs while at Central Florida from 1998-2001 where he was also defensive coordinator. He did the same thing at Auburn from 2002-2004.

In 2005-2006 he was assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Texas before becoming head coach at Iowa State in 2007 and 2008 prior to returning to Auburn.

Asked if he plans to make changes in the defense with more than three weeks to prepare for the bowl game, Chizik said, "I am going to make sure that the first thing that we put out there is a team that is ready for whatever Virginia gives us. So, whatever that looks like, that could be different, it could be the same, it could be a little of both.

"It is all going to be dependent upon once we break Virginia down and have a great feel for what they are trying to do offensively, then, obviously, we are going to put on the field what we think gives us the best chance to stop it."

Chizik's offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, has been mentioned as a candidate for several head coaching positions.

"I've got a contingency plan for any of my coaches that happen to get other jobs," Chizik said. "That's what you do as a head coach. You always have a short list of every position on your staff that you could have to fill so that's no different than anybody that would leave on our staff so I've always got a short list. I think as a head coach, if you talk to most head coaches, they always have that available years in advance."

In other news and notes:

*Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said he expects AU's allotment of 17,000 tickets for the bowl to be gone before long. Chick-fil-A Bowl officials said on Thursday the only tickets available from the game are being sold through Auburn's ticket office and Virginia's ticket office, which reported it has sold 9,236 of its allotment.

*Chick-fil-A Bowl officials were in Auburn on Thursday to officially extend the invitation to the Tigers to play the Cavaliers. Bowl chief executive officer Gary Stokan said, "Competition-wise, close to 60 percent of our games have been decided by a touchdown or less. We typically get a close game, and that's why we get high (TV) ratings. We think that we'll have a similar type of game this year.

"This is our 20th anniversary of hosting the ACC and the SEC, and the ACC leads with 10 wins, and the SEC has nine wins, so Auburn can get it tied back up 10-10 here with a victory in our game," Stokan noted.

"We also think our bowl game's a great reward for fans," Stokan added. "We truly believe in southern hospitality. We enjoy hosting people in Atlanta, and for the fans, which we think Auburn has one of the Top 10 fan bases in the country and passionate fans."

*The Tigers are scheduled to wrap up on-campus practices on Dec. 21st. The players will report to Atlanta on their own on the night of the 25th and begin practice on the 26th. The game will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. CST on New Year's Eve.

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