Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said on Tuesday that he is interested in the recently vacated head coaching position at the University of Central Florida, where he coached for four seasons prior to taking over the Auburn defense in 2002. His name has surfaced as a potential candidate, even though the athletic director he worked for at UCF, Steven Sloan, is no longer with that university.
Auburn's defensive unit is currently ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense at 14.9 points allowed per contest. The Tigers are 10th in rushing defense, 20th in pass defense and seventh in total defense as they prepare for Saturday's road game vs. the Georgia Bulldogs.
Chizik, who said he has not been officially contacted by UCF, said his plate is full getting the Tigers ready a Top 10 ranked opponent this week.
"Obviously, when you get into this profession you hope to be a head coach someday," Chizik said. "That is my goal. Obviously, right now that is not what my thought is and that is not where my mind is right now. My mind is on Georgia and the following week it is going to be on Alabama. This is one of the biggest games of the year for us and my mind wouldn't be anywhere else.
"If all of those things work out when it is all said and done, that would be great," Chizik added. "If it doesn't, that will be great, too, because I love it here and it is a great place. I don't look down the road that far. We have got practice and we have got Georgia. We have to prepare to beat these guys."
Chizik coached linebackers at Central Florida and then moved the secondary, which he coaches at Auburn. He was also defensive coordinator at UCF, which recently announced that it is joining Conference USA.
Central Florida fired Mike Kruczek, the man Chizik formerly coached for at UCF, on Monday. Assistant head coach Alan Gooch was named the interim head coach of a 3-7 team that has been rocked by off the field problems.
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said that he encourages all of his assistant coaches to move up to take head coaching spots. Two of his former AU assistants, Joe Pannunzio (Murray State) and Bobby Petrino (Louisville), are currently serving as head coaches. Former AU offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone turned down a head coaching offer and defensive line coach Don Dunn has been courted for head coaching spots, but preferred to stay at AU. Tuberville was a defensive coordinator at Miami and then Texas A&M before becoming a head coach at Ole Miss.
Chizik has coached at Stephen F. Austin and Middle Tennessee State in addition to AU and UCF. "Any place that you go and you invest a lot of time and part of your life there, you are happy there and we left on good terms you always have a fond place for in your heart," the coach said. "When the day comes that I have to leave Auburn, I am going to have the same feeling in my heart for Auburn. I think that has happened every place that I have been. I think Central Florida falls into that category. I was there four years and I enjoyed it and I left on good terms. I have fond memories of Orlando."
Chizik came to UCF from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas where he spent six years. That team was ranked in the Top 25 in Division I-AA for five consecutive seasons while he was there coaching linebackers and the secondary. He was named defensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin before moving to Central Florida.
Prior to coaching at SFA he spent time at Middle Tennessee State University as the defensive ends coach from 1990-91. While coaching there he helped take MTSU to a No. 1 national ranking and a trip to the quarter-finals in the NCAA I-AA playoffs in 1990 and 1991. Prior to joining Middle Tennessee State University he was a graduate assistant at Clemson University and the University of Tennessee where he coached the outside linebackers.
Chizik, a 1985 University of Florida graduate, played football for the Gators and was a member of the 1981 Peach Bowl team. He earned a master's degree in guidance and counseling from Clemson in 1991.