ICTV: Gene Chizik Interview

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - UNC's new defensive coordinator spoke with the media for the first time since joining the Tar Heel staff.

Opening comments:
“I’m very excited to be here and continue to learn about the University of North Carolina. Obviously had the job for two or three weeks, but maybe have been on campus for four or five days with recruiting. I just got back into town today as a matter of fact. Just the transition up to this point has been phenomenal. The people have been unbelievable. Obviously I’ve had a relationship with coach Fedora for a long time over the years. I have a tremendous amount of respect for everything that he has done on and off the field as a football coach and as a man and I’m excited to get started here and growing relationships and meeting new people, and looking forward to getting to know our players and people in the administration. And so many great people around here.

“I’ve already met a few that have invested so much time. Just people that have been around the university and the athletic program for so many years. It’s been short-lived up to this point, but I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m extremely excited about moving forward and getting to mean and learn and embrace this University of North Carolina culture.”

Can you explain your defensive philosophy?
“When you talk defensive philosophy, it’s really simple. When you turn on the film you are painting a picture. Every coach paints a picture. Every player paints a picture. When you want that picture to be done you are the artist. I have over the years run a 4-3. We will do some more evaluation on players to see exactly what the best thing to do is in terms of not trying to put round pegs in square holes. But what we do want to know philosophically when we turn the film on is, we want to see a relentless, aggressive defense. You want the opponents to start worrying about you on Sunday by the intensity level and the effort level that your players give.

“When you put on that film you want to see a certain element of selflessness with every player on the defense. So it really doesn’t matter if you’re a 4-3, a 3-4, or a 4-2-5. When you put on defensive film philosophically for me over the years, those are the things I want people to see. I want to see aggressiveness, people playing with heart, and effort and soul down to the core of their body and I want them to see guys that are very selfless in terms of their contribution to being a great defense. Regardless of the numbers, regardless of the scheme that you run. That’s the idea of a team defense to me.”

On the idea of being married to one scheme:
“I think that you have to obviously evaluate your personnel. You have to look and see what skill set you have at every different position and then you have to put them into a position to be successful with what they can physically do. One thing you have to be careful of when you are trying to install a defense and trying to build a foundation of defense is not trying to do too many things, I think, in this day and age with offenses the way they are. Look at our offense here. Very productive. Schematically, defensively, it gives you a lot of problems and headaches.

“Defense, sometimes in this day and age, the term less is more, is very relevant, or should I say, relative, because you have to be able to no trick yourself. Offenses in college have really moved away from the NFL model and have really gone to a lot of deception and moving parts, all of these different things. Particularly now that quarterbacks are in the mix as sort of your third tail back so to speak. The main thing defensively is don’t trick yourself. Make sure you are doing enough to have some variance in there, but not doing too much to trick your own guys. That’s where the fine line is. And that’s where we have to go with it, we have to figure out what that balance is and again, that’s going to be based on the guys we have doing the job on the field.”

What made this the right fit?
“I took two years off for my family. It’s just that simple. I just felt like that was time I could really be with my daughters and son and my wife and really kind of recoup some time. In my mind, if I got opportunities to come coach again, then I’m blessed. If I don’t, I’ve had a great career. In those two years there were several opportunities. People were obviously going to ask why this one? To me the answer is really simple. To me, every decision I’m going to make in my life going forward is a quality of life decision. It’s, if I take this job and move to a certain place am I going to be happy every day at work with the people that I work with? Am I really going to embrace the culture, the area, and the community? All of those things matter. Geographically, it mattered to me.

“And then you throw in the fact that my amount of respect for Larry. Ironically, we kind of mirrored each other’s careers when we were coming up as coordinators. He was at Florida when I was a coordinator at Auburn. I went to Texas as the coordinator on defense when he was at Oklahoma State. And when I was the head coach at Iowa State, he was still at Oklahoma State. I’ve got a really high level of respect for having to defend and go against what I know is a very productive offensive guy and mind.

“And I have a lot of respect for Larry in that regard. But I’ve got more respect for him as a person. If I ever said I was going to go back and be an assistant for somebody and work for somebody, it would be for a guy like Larry. When you go back to the quality of life issues that were going to guide my decisions going forward because I had a great job. I had a great job with ESPN and they were great to me and Sirius XM radio. It had to be the right thing for me. And all of the research and all of the things about North Carolina fit for me personally. It was just the right fit for me or I wouldn’t even be up here. I am extremely excited that this is a place where academics are huge and a big piece of the puzzle for all of these student athletes.

“I wanted to be at a place where that was held in high regard. And I wanted to be at a place where we could potentially win a championship. Because I am not coming out of retirement if you will unless we had a chance to win one. I’m just not putting myself in that position because winning is important to me. Being a small part of a championship idea is big to me. And that can be done here, or this probably wouldn’t have been the right fit for me. I love the challenge of where we have to go. Larry and I have talked about that in depth. I’m all in, I’m all in.”

Inside Carolina Top Stories