Chizik on the Tigers: Who's Back, Who's Not

Auburn football coach Gene Chizik talks about getting the Outback Bowl Trophy, coaching rumors and players who won't be with the 2010 Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn men's basketball team gave a valiant effort on Saturday before losing 72-67 to Kentucky at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, but some of the loudest cheers came at halftime of the game when coach Gene Chizik, athletic director Jay Jacobs, and wide receiver Darvin Adams took the court to accept the Outback Bowl Trophy and MVP Trophy.

Darvin Adams accepts the Outback Bowl MVP award.

With the ceremony for the postgame trophy inside Raymond James Stadium and not on the field, Chizik said it was important to show the fans how much of a part they played in Auburn getting to Tampa and ultimately winning the game over Northwestern.

"It's huge because I think a huge reason we were able to go to the Outback Bowl is because of the Auburn fans," Chizik said. "I don't think there is any question. For us to be able to come back in front of them after a win that was wild and crazy, it was a great victory for us.

"We would have liked to have played better in a lot of instances, but it was a great win because we had to fight to come back. We overcome all kinds of different scenarios to win the game. The fact of the matter is one of the reasons we were there is because of our fans. It was neat to bring that back today."

While the celebration was a good one for football, questions on message boards and talk radio abound wondering if Louisiana Tech is going to come after Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn with Derek Dooley taking the job at Tennessee. Chizik said Auburn hasn't heard anything from LA Tech and he expects everyone to be on board for the 2010 season.

"I've talked to all of our assistant coaches," Chizik said. "Obviously my goal is to make sure we keep our coaching staff intact. We've been able to do that. I fully anticipate being able to do that. There has been no official contact from Louisiana Tech to anybody in our department that I'm aware of. There is going to be hearsay and rumors and things of that nature, but I fully anticipate our staff being back together."

Tiger Ticket Notes:

*Defensive end Cameron Henderson is no longer in school and won't be with the team any longer. Henderson missed the 2009 season because of disciplinary issues.

Eric Smith

*Also no longer with the team are linebackers Spencer Pybus and Adam Herring as well as offensive lineman Vance Smith because of injuries. Chizik said all three are still in school, but decided to give it up after talking with the coaches and their families due to the seriousness of their health issues.

Pybus and Smith were sidelined by a problem with concussions. Herring has an ankle injury that has required multiple surgeries. He is currently rehabbing from his latest surgery.

Pybus was an All-SEC Freshman in 2008, but didn't lay this past season.

*Chizik said all of the players that were suspended for the bowl game activities (Eric Smith, Tyrik Rollinson, John Douglas) are back and working with the team in preparation for spring practice. Chizik said Smith just had to keep working hard to take care of the things asked of him from the coaching staff.

*Defensive back Aairon Savage is applying for a sixth-year and Chizik said that the Tigers haven't heard anything from the NCAA regarding his status. He added he's not sure when they'll hear on the extra year, but Savage will be ready to join the team at that time if he gets the green light. The coach noted that Savage should be physically ready to participate in spring training.

*Safety Mike McNeil is currently working out with the team and Chizik said the coaches anticipated him being able to go through spring practice. He said the junior would have to go through some "procedures" first, but said the Mobile native should be ready for spring practice that will start in March.

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