Gene Chizik was among five coaches fired yesterday at the highest level of college football, dismissed by Auburn University two seasons after guiding the school to its first national championship since 1957.
Chizik’s stint with the Tigers ended a day after the team lost 49-0 against the second-ranked University of Alabama to finish the season winless in the Southeastern Conference and with a 3-9 overall mark. Chizik, 50, went 33-19 in four seasons at Auburn and had a 15-17 record in conference play.
“I’m extremely disappointed with the way this season turned out,” Chizik said in a statement. “When expectations are not met, I understand changes must be made.”
Also fired yesterday were North Carolina State’s Tom O’Brien, Boston College’s Frank Spaziani, Purdue University’s Danny Hope and the University of Colorado’s Jon Embree.
Chizik’s ouster at Auburn comes less than two years after the Tigers, led by quarterback Cam Newton, defeated Oregon 22-19 in the Bowl Championship Series title game. Newton was subsequently selected by the Carolina Panthers with the first overall pick in the 2011 National Football League draft.
“We will long cherish the memories of our first national championship in 53 years,” Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said in a statement on the school’s website.
Auburn will pay $11.1 million to buy out the remainder of the contracts for Chizik and his nine fulltime assistants, the school said. Chizik will be paid monthly through the 2015-16 fiscal year, it said. Chizik will receive $7.5 million, AP said, while payments may drop depending on future employment.
The search for a successor will be led by three former Tigers -- 1971 and 1985 Heisman Trophy winners Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson, and Mac Crawford, former chairman of CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS:US), the largest provider of prescription drugs in the U.S.
O’Brien compiled a 40-35 record in six years at North Carolina State, going 22-26 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. The Wolfpack went 7-5 this season.
Offensive coordinator Dan Bible will serve as interim coach, including this season’s bowl game, while a search for a replacement is conducted. All assistants have been retained and will have the opportunity to pursue positions with the new head coach, the school said.
“I feel that the program is in a better place now than when I started,” O’Brien said in a statement. “I’m proud of the young men that I have coached here, for their accomplishments on the field and in the classroom.”
O’Brien from 1997 to 2006 coached at Boston College, which yesterday dismissed Spaziani after he compiled a 21-29 record over four seasons. The Eagles went 2-10 this season under Spaziani, who had been promoted in 2009 after 10 years as the school’s defensive coordinator.
“A personnel decision of this magnitude affects many people and is never taken lightly, but I felt a change was necessary,” Athletic director Brad Bates said.
Hope was fired by Purdue after a 6-6 season that gave him a 22-27 record over four years at the West Lafayette, Indiana- based school. The Boilermakers were 13-19 against Big Ten Conference opponents.
Hope, who was under contract through 2016, received a $600,000 buyout, the school said on its website.
Colorado fired Embree yesterday after the Buffaloes went 1- 11, including a 1-8 record in the Pac-12 Conference. He had a 4- 21 record in two seasons at his alma mater.
“A change in the leadership in our football program is in the best interests of the University of Colorado, particularly given our goal to compete at the highest levels of the Pac-12 Conference,” the school said in a statement. “It was a difficult decision, given Jon Embree’s history with CU, and one we arrived at after considerable deliberation.”
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