Jacobs Discusses Criticism of Hire

Auburn's athletic director answers questions about his decision to hire Gene Chizik to coach the football team.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said that criticism by fans of his choice of Gene Chizik as head football coach of the Tigers doesn't bother him.

Chizik was introduced as Auburn's new head coach on Monday after being announced as Tommy Tuberville's replacement on Saturday.

Chizik's hire was considered a surprise because of his 5-19 record as a head coach the past two seasons at Iowa State. However, Jacobs said that the coach's overall body of work, including three years as a defensive coordinator at Auburn, makes Chizik the right man for the job.

"The thing that I walk in the door thinking about every day, and I have said it since four years ago this coming Monday Dec. 22nd when I took the job, my number one concern is those student-athletes," Jacobs said. "And so, my number one concern is what gives them the best chance to compete on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

Gene Chizik

"I know with the support of the student-athletes--the football players--what they are going to say about Gene, people will latch on to that," Jacobs said. "The great thing about it is we have a lot of passionate fans, but when our student-athletes start responding like they have the past few days the Auburn people they will adjust to that.

"Here's a guy that went undefeated here as a coordinator and went to Texas and won a national championship as a coordinator," Jacobs added. "He's had two years' experience as a head coach making some tough choices in a tough place. I like all of that. It is not an easy business."

Asked about comments from former Auburn basketball star Charles Barkley that AU should have hired Buffalo's Turner Gill, Jacobs said, "My reaction is that I was picking the best fit for Auburn."

Jacobs said that Chizik will get a base salary of approximately $1.9 million per year with incentives for championships and having high graduation rates. The athletic director said Chizik was more interested in getting back to Auburn than negotiating for a big dollar contract. Jacobs said the length of the deal is still to be determined. It is expected to be five or six years.

Asked if he is disappointed by the negative reaction from many fans, Jacobs said, "No not disappointed. I am not disappointed at all. I just stood on Exodus 14:14, just going to keep walking by faith and not by sight. And I know at the end of the day I am going to put on my coat of armor from Ephesians 6:10 and I know I have got the right guy here to do the right thing for Auburn and our student-athletes.

"They are going to have an unbelievable experience playing for a guy who loves them and is going to work them as hard as he can possibly work them and push them to a new limit," Jacobs said. "The Auburn people will be proud. Everybody get on board."

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