Chizik Explains Why He Is Heading West

Comments from the former Auburn defensive coordinator, Gene Chizik, are featured.

Austin, Tex.--Gene Chizik had no trouble on Monday making it clear that he thinks the University of Texas is a nirvana for a college football coach.

That was one of the former Auburn defensive coordinator's two themes in explaining why he decided to accept an offer from the Longhorns to be assistant head coach as well as co-defensive coordinator of Coach Mack Brown's team.

When asked to explain what looks to be a "lateral" type move from Auburn to Texas, Chizik said, "I just think I had to weigh out all of my options on what I felt like was going to be beneficial for me in terms of getting a head coaching job.

"Certainly, the University of Texas is one of the most prestigious jobs in the country. Coach Brown has done a tremendous job of promoting coaches underneath him. He has had seven different coaches under him go on to become head coaches. He really feels like if I come to Texas and I do the job that we are hoping I can do and I think I can do, then he thinks we will be able to propel this into a head coaching job somewhere down the line."

Since Tommy Tuberville took over at Auburn in 1999, two of his assistants, Joe Pannunzio (Murray State) and Bobby Petrino (Louisville), have moved on to head coaching jobs.

For Chizik, who will also coach linebackers in Austin, this is his second coaching stint in the state of Texas. He spent six years as an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin and is familiar with the Texas football scene.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to be able come back to the great state of Texas to coach football where I know football is king," he says. "What a great honor it is for me to be able come to the University of Texas, which is so rich in history and tradition. Just what an honor, what I feel like it is to reach the pinnacle of coaching in college.

"I think this is the best job in America, the best job a defensive coordinator can have. I am just so excited about the opportunity to come to Texas and I am just really looking forward to getting here on Thursday."

Gene Chizik is shown receiving the Broyles Award last week as the nation's top assistant coach.

Before he heads west to Texas, Chizik says there is unfinished business in Auburn.

"Today, nobody is in school (holiday) and nobody is around the (Auburn football) complex so I am not leaving until Thursday," Chizik says. "I am planning on meeting with every one of those guys on defense that I have become so close to in the last three years. I will certainly get a chance to talk to them before I leave. Once again, it just kind of happened on a day when they weren't around. My goal in the next few days is to make sure I see everybody before I go."

When asked how he and Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville are handling the move, Chizik said, "He ended it very professionally, very well. It was very much appreciated on my part. He understood my position and my take on the issue. He was very supportive of that. I assured him how much I appreciate the opportunity to come to Auburn. We talked about that. I thanked him greatly for the opportunity. He handled it very well and as far as I know everything is good and we are on good terms."

Chizik said that his comments about Texas being a great place to promote himself for a head coaching job were not meant to be a slam at Auburn. "I certainly don't want to insinuate that," he said. "I don't want that to be misconstrued.

"When you look at the overall package, Coach Brown has just been so successful with his coaches and even his assistants right now getting them head coaching jobs when you look at his past. It wasn't just one thing. It was the fact it was the University Texas, which I have said before, is looked on as the best job in America." Two UT assistants off the 2004 team left to become head coaches.

Tuberville said on Monday that he appreciated the job that Chizik did in his three seasons at Auburn. The head coach noted he made a similar move, going from Miami to Texas A&M for a season before being named head coach at Ole Miss.

Chizik said he and his wife spent two days in Austin visiting the campus and UT officials last week and really liked the people they met, but didn't get the job offer until Sunday night when he "prayed" about his decision before accepting. He said that he didn't know Brown personally until five days ago when they talked about the possibility of hiring Chizik at Texas although they had coached against each other when Brown was at North Carolina.

Chizik says the fact that the Longhorns have nine returning starters is a plus, but didn't have a bearing on his decision to move west. The coach did say it is a plus that he expects to find "top notch" talent to work with at UT.

Chizik, who worked for three seasons as defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Auburn, says he will tell recruits, if asked by Auburn, that they should go to Auburn. He says Texas will not recruit any prospects who are committed to Auburn.

Chizik also says, "I think anybody in the profession will tell you that the University of Texas would have to be in the top two or three in the country on where you would want to coach. Certainly, if I didn't feel like Texas was the best job in the country, I wouldn't have left Auburn to come here. Auburn is a tremendous university with great tradition as well.

"Obviously, we just came off a undefeated season. That situation over there is one of the best in the country as well so it was going to take something to get me out of Auburn in my opinion that would help me move forward as a head coach. I think there are very few places in the country that would do that, but Texas was certainly the one I would move for, obviously."

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