Chizik "Overwhelmed" By Warm Welcome

On a cool night in Auburn, new head football coach Gene Chizik got a warm welcome.

Auburn, Ala.--Gene Chizik got a rock star style welcome at the Robert G. Pitts Airport on Sunday night after flying in with his family from Ames, Iowa to take over as head coach of the Auburn football team.

A crowd of around 400 to 500 people armed with cameras plus media were waiting for the Auburn University jet to deposit Chizik back in Auburn where he worked as defensive coordinator from 2002-2004.

"First of all, I am very, very overwhelmed and I back home," Chizik said. "What can I say? I am back home. I feel very blessed, my family, myself, this is a dream come true for us.

"This is going to be brief, but I want to tell you this," he added. "These people of Auburn University, the Auburn family, is what I got into coaching for and I left it with a dream to one day come back to it. Today, I am living that dream and I want to thank you guys and War Eagle."

Chizik interacts with fans on Sunday night.

City of Auburn mayor Bill Ham presented the coach with a key to the city and then Chizik spent 20 minutes posing for pictures, shaking hands and say hello to old friends and general fans who got word he was scheduled to arrive in Auburn at approximately 6 p.m.

Chizik meets with Mayor Ham on Sunday night.

Included in the group there to see him were four members of the team he is taking over--running back Ben Tate and defensive backs Walt McFadden, Jerraud Powers and Zach Etheridge.

Chizik told the players and others, "I am so excited to be here and I can't wait to get started."

The coach spent two seasons at Texas as defensive coordinator after leaving Auburn and has been head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones for the past two seasons.

Joining Chizik on the plane were his wife Jonna, his three children along with AU officials Nikki Borges and Kirk Sampson.

Gene Chizik was defensive coordinator of Auburn's unbeaten 2004 team.

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs, who led the search to find a replacement for Tommy Tuberville, said he was pleased with the big welcome on Chizik's return. "He's just a class guy," Jacobs said. "It is just good to have him back in Auburn."

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