Chizik Says Leaving Players Not Easy

Austin, Tex.--Gene Chizik says the toughest part of moving to the University of Texas as assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator will be leaving the players he has spent so much time with at Auburn. <p>

That group led the nation in scoring defense for the 2004 season as the Tigers finished 13-0.

Chizik just wrapped up his third season at Auburn as defensive coordinator and secondary coach. He will switch to coaching linebackers for his new job at Texas that he starts on Thursday. Before he leaves for Austin, he plans to spend the next two days saying goodbye to members of the Auburn football team.

"It is going to be really tough," he says. "The hardest thing to leaving Auburn University is to go in to see those players tomorrow and say goodbye," he says. "The guys who have been here three years with me have kind of grown up together in this thing and we have been through a lot of great times and we have been through some bad times.

"I have grown so attached to them and hopefully they have grown so attached me, but that is the fun part of coaching. You always make sure you don't get lost in the fact that wins and losses are the bottom line with everybody out there. That is not always the case with me. I am trying to be a role model to these young men and they know that. It means a lot more to me than the X's and O's right there.

"The relationships I have with the guys have become very strong," Chizik adds. "It is going to be very hard for me in the next two days to say goodbye these guys."

Chizik receives a bear hug from noseguard T.J. Jackson following Auburn's Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.

The former Auburn coach says his move to Texas can be attributed to his respect for the University of Texas program, which he calls the "pinnacle" of college coaching stops, and the need to market himself as a potential head coach. The 43-year-old was interviewed for the head job at Central Florida where he had coached as an assistant, but didn't get that position. He had no job offers as head coach in December when there were a variety of openings at Division I programs.

When asked if he was frustrated by not getting a serious look for the vacant jobs, he says, "When you open yourself up to a whole new market, you know, I am going to a different conference, which is obviously one of the most prestigious conferences in the country, very similar to the SEC. You open yourself up for different avenues for different exposure and things of that nature.

"I don't want to say I was frustrated by it, I am not," Chizik adds. "I just want to do what is best for me and my family and the career path that I am headed on. I just felt like this move would certainly move me in that direction."

Chizik is expected to call the defensive shots in Austin despite having the title of co-coordinator? "We are going to discuss all of that and come to decisions when I get there, but you know in my discussions right now I am very pleased with what I heard," he says . We will finalize all of that when I get down there."

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