Chizik Discusses Defensive Coordinator Search

Auburn head football coach Gene Chizik reveals what he is looking for when he hires a new coordinator.

Auburn, Ala.--Gene Chizik is juggling three jobs as the Tigers prepare for their Chick-fil-A Bowl matchup vs. the Virginia Cavaliers, but the football coach said that is not hindering his search for a new defensive coordinator.

Chizik admits he is keeping busy working as the interim defensive coordinator and the interim linebacker coach in place of Ted Roof, who handled those assignments for three seasons.

Asked if he has enough time to take care of the search for a new defensive coordinator, Chizik said, "Enough time to have a really good idea of some candidates, but again there is a delicate balance here. I feel good about the knowledge of several different guys I?think would be the right fits for Auburn."

Chizik has not been willing to give a time frame on when he wants to have a new coordinator on the staff. That didn't change when asked the question after Tuesday's practice, the second for the Tigers in preparation for a New Year's Eve bowl game vs. Virginia.

Chizik, who has an extensive background as a linebackers coach and coordinator, said he is enjoying the teaching aspect of being a position coach and coordinator. "The last two days have been really good for me," he said, which is not surprising because Auburn players are saying the coach has been fired up since the Tigers returned to the practice field on Monday following a two-week break.

Some head coaches have dual roles as coordinators, or even position coaches. Asked if that is something he would consider doing for the long term, Chizik said, "I will never say never, but right now that is not my aim."

The coach noted that he is currently doing a "juggling act" trying to handle all of his jobs, but added, "It is a challenge, but we are making it work."

Chizik said he is looking for a coordinator whose philosophy of defense meshes with his and who has proven himself as a coordinator. He noted that he is looking for "a great combination of both."

The head coach added, "There has got to be a philosophy similarity for sure. Obviously, you want to get somebody who has done it successfully.

"I think you can't pigeon-hole one particular thing you are looking for," he added. "You have to look at the whole thing and he has to be the right fit for your staff as well. He has to be the right fit to mix in with the other guys. He has got to be a great leader and all of the other things it takes as a coordinator.

Chizik's defenses have been based out of a 4-3 front. Asked if he is looking for a coordinator who specializes in coaching that style of play, he answered, "Not necessarily. That is not a deal-breaker."

Chizik said he has a plan in place on how the Tigers will prepare for the bowl game if they must replace their offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, if he leaves for a head coaching job. Malzahn has been a candidate for openings at several colleges and has consistently said it is his goal to become a collegiate head coach.

Gus Malzahn also coaches Auburn's quarterbacks.

"Gus and I have a great relationship and we have had several discussions about moving forward in his career and what his goals are, but, at the end of the day, the decisions he makes are up to him," Chizik said.

"I am sure he will make the best decision for him and his family, but we are very open when we talk about it. If an opportunity arises, I am sure he will do what is best for him and his family just like I did."

Auburn, 7-5, will play 8-4 Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Chizik said he believes his offensive coordinator is working hard to have the Tigers prepared for that game.

"I am 100 percent sure Gus is very focused on one thing and that is helping us win a bowl game," Chizik said. "He is the offensive coordinator at Auburn and that is what his job. I am sure that is exactly where he is."

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