It's Malzahn's Show, Chizik Says

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik talks about the hiring of Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator.

Auburn, Ala.--When Gene Chizik took the job as Auburn's head coach, he talked about having a plan for the direction of the football program down the road. With the hiring of Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator, Chizik said his plan is beginning to take shape.

"Today is an exciting day for me personally and it's an exciting day for Auburn football," Chizik said. "Obviously, there is a lot of speculation about who our offensive coordinator would be. When we went to pursue this it was really neat because when Jay (athletic director Jay Jacobs) and I talked about this I told him I had a plan. As we talked about it, one of the guys I was very adamant about was Gus.

"When I went to hire an offensive coordinator there were a lot of things I thought were very important," Chizik added. "First of all I'm always looking for the mark of the man. I think that's very important because the mark of the man is going to determine how your kids are treated, how they're coached, and as I did my homework on Gus that was a huge part of the equation."

A defensive coach by trade, Chizik has said that he'll be a coach that keeps tabs on all facets of the offense, defense and special teams. While that will be the case with the Tigers, he said this will be Malzahn's show on offense because that's why he hired him.

"The bottom line is when you hire great people you've got to give them an opportunity to run their show," Chizik said. "It's no different than when I was a defensive coordinator. The way I worked best was to turn it over for me and trust me enough for me to get it done. That's the same way it will be with Gus.

"I will have a working knowledge of everything. I wouldn't feel comfortable any other way. I don't want to micromanage. I think that's why you hire great people. I know with Gus what I'm getting. I have seen it. I've done my homework on this one. I feel very comfortable with Gus running the offense--period."

Chizik didn't get into any specifics about other candidates for the position and there may not have been anyone else he seriously considered Malzahn said he was contacted by Chizik over the Christmas break and it had been rumored that he was one of the coaches Chizik was interested in at Iowa State before he made the move to Auburn. In the end Auburn's new head coach said Malzahn had what he wanted in an offensive coordinator.

"When you look at everything and look at a football coach, a football coach really has three parts," Chizik said. "How are they as a X and O guy? How are they with their players? How are they when they go into a living room and have to convince a young man to come to their university.

"At Auburn I feel like we don't have to go two for three or one for three on a guy we're going to hire. I said that from the beginning. His reputation as a recruiter is huge. That was part of the equation. As I went to hire this particular position, Gus brings it all to the table."

Along with Malzahn, Chizik has also hired James Willis back to Auburn's staff. With plenty of spots still left open Chizik said right now his concern isn't the speed of the hires, but in getting the right men for the jobs.

"I think there is always an urgency to a degree," Chizik said. "What you can't let happen is the urgency of that override you getting the right fit. There is a fine line in there. I'm smart enough to understand that.

"As you lay out a plan you've got to see that plan through. You've got to do what you think is the best thing to get the right people. Obviously, if I could I would have them all here already, but that's not realistic. I'm not putting a timeline because I've got to get the right guy."

Chizik and his small staff will spend time on the phones this week trying to continue to work on a promising recruiting class for 2009. Perhaps Chizik's biggest recruiting job will come with three juniors that have put feelers out to the NFL. Sen'Derrick Marks, Antonio Coleman and Jerraud Powers are all considering turning pro early. Chizik said right now he's talking with all three and is trying to help them make the right decision.

"We've had some good conversations," Chizik said. "At the end of the day we would love for all those guys to be a part of Auburn for another year. That's going to ultimately be their decision for themselves and their family. We've had some conversations. At the end of the day they've got to do what is best for them, but we would love to have them back at Auburn."

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