Chizik: 'I want to win a national championship'

Former Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik has been named Co-Defensive Coordinator and assistant head coach at Texas. Emphasizing a desire to "reach the pinnacle of coaching in college football," Chizik said he and Texas coach Mack Brown reached a formal contract agreement on Sunday before his hiring was announced Monday afternoon.

Chizik will join Duane Akina as Co-DC and coach Longhorn linebackers, replacing Greg Robinson, who was named head coach at Syracuse University on January 11.

News media in Alabama reported that many Auburn fans considered the Texas job as, at best, a parallel move and consequently were surprised by his decision. But Chizik said that "this is the best job a defensive coordinator can have and I am so excited about the opportunity to come to Texas... If I didn't feel like this was the best job in the country, I wouldn't have left Auburn."

Last week, Chizik won the Frank Broyles Award, presented annually to the nation’s top major college football assistant coach.

"We're thrilled that we were able to add one of the nation's top defensive coordinators in Gene Chizik to our staff," Brown said. "He's coming off of a season where he won the Broyles Award and his defense played a key role in Auburn's undefeated season. What the Auburn defense has accomplished during his time there is matched by few programs around the country. He is someone that brings a lot of energy, the experience of 10 seasons as a defensive coordinator and a whole lot of success with him. We're really excited to get him started."

Chizik will bid farewell to Auburn players Tuesday before moving to Austin on Thursday. Brown contacted Auburn officials about interviewing Chizik the middle of last week. Chizik then flew to Austin for a brief tour before returning home to make a final decision.

"We go back about five days," Chizik said of his previous relationship with Brown. In fact, the only Texas coach with whom Chizik is acquainted is new RB coach Ken Rucker. The two, of course, were former opponents the past two seasons during Rucker's stint at Georgia.

The 43 year-old Chizik described his defensive style in terms of being "very similar to the things they've already done."

"Without getting too in depth in the Xs and Os, we're just going to go there and try to continue building on the tradition that they've already done of playing great defense."

Robinson incorporated zone blitzes while sprinkling in zone coverages in the secondary this past season, emphasizing a swarming, bend-but-don't break defense. His predecessor, Carl Reese, was strictly a man-defense Coordinator.

"You never try to stay in one thing too long so we're hoping to be very good at doing man-type things and zone-type things," Chizik said, "but to say that we're a man-team or a zone-team right now is probably premature on my part."

Chizik said Brown has yet to specify his recruiting area, although UT coordinators typically cover the central Texas region. National Signing Day is set for February 2.

Last week, Auburn proposed a two-year deal at a reported $300,000 annually but Chizik said "no contract was seen, no contract was signed." He also said he does not discuss his salary with media.

"My contract really had no bearing on the decision," he said, before adding, "My family and I had a long discussion about what we felt like was best for our path and prayed about it a lot. We felt like God has put us in the right direction."

Chizik and his wife have three children, all younger than seven years old.

Although he coached defensive backs along with his coordinator duties at Auburn, he also has experience as a LB coach and played LB at Florida. Chizik also spent six years in the Lone Star State as an assistant coach and coordinator at Stephen F. Austin.

Under his tutelage, the Tiger defense finished No. 1 in the country in points allowed (11.3 ppg) on the way to the Southeast Conference championship and a 13-0 season in '04. Chizik's unit gave up just one rushing TD during the 11-game regular season. His defense has not allowed an opponent to rush for 150 yards or an opposing back to total 100 in 17 games.

The former Auburn DC also interviewed last week for the DB coach position with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and recently turned down an offer to be the DC at North Carolina State

Chizik will be Texas' third Defensive Coordinator in three seasons. The UT coordinator's job is an ideal launching pad for a head coaching job, said Chizik, who makes no secret of the fact that he wants to be the man in charge some day.

"A head coaching position is my ultimate goal and Mack Brown knows that," he said. "Mack Brown has an amazing record of his assistants getting head coaching jobs. Those two things weighed heavily and that was the deciding factor."

"I had to weigh out all of my options to what I felt like was going to be beneficial for me in terms of getting a head coaching job. Certainly The University of Texas is one of the most prestigious jobs in the country. Coach Brown has done a tremendous job of promoting coaches underneath him. He really feels like that if I come to Texas and do the job that we're hoping that I can do, and that I think I can do, then we'll be able to propel this into a head coaching job somewhere down the line... It was going to take something to get me out of Auburn and, in my opinion, it was going to have to be something to help me move forward as a head coach."

But how long-term is Chizik's commitment to Texas?

"I can't really say. Obviously, if an opportunity comes and I feel like I have an opportunity to be a successful head coach -- and I think that's the key word -- then I'll look at that very hard. I don't want to make it sound like I'm coming to Texas to turn around and leave. I want to win a national championship."

Auburn ranked fifth in total defense (277.6 ypg) in 2004. The Tigers also finished the season ranked 10th in passing defense (173.5 ypg), and 12th in rushing defense (104.2 ypg), and did not allow a rushing touchdown until the eighth game of the season, giving up only four all year.

"I think adding Gene alongside Duane (Akina), Tolley (Mike Tolleson) and Oscar Giles on our defensive staff will be a great fit," Brown said. "Duane did an outstanding job in his first year as co-defensive coordinator last year and will continue in that role, as well as being one of the nation's top defensive backfield coaches. Tolley has been a key part of our defensive success from the day our staff arrived in 1998 and does a great job with our special teams, as well. Oscar adds a bright and energetic young coach to the mix who has experience as both a player and coach at Texas. I'm really excited about how the staff rounded out once again."

Texas returns nine defensive starters from its 11-1 Rose Bowl champion team.

"That was kind of the icing on the cake," Chizik said, "but it really wasn't a factor in my decision."

The Longhorns are slated to begin spring drills the last week in February.

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