One of the great mysteries of the universe, or at least the SEC West Division, was the inexplicable hiring of Gene Chizik as head football coach of Auburn in 2008.
(Auburn President: Radio silence on Newton story, FBI arrests)
Though a former defensive coordinator for the Tigers, Chizik had just completed coaching Iowa State to a 5-19 record when he was offered one of the most prestigious jobs in college football.
Even stranger though was the circumstances surrounding Chizik’s hire, which included school officials being heckled at an airport by Auburn fans before Chizik had even signed a contract. Though those events didn’t prevent current Auburn President Jay Gogue from taking complete responsibility for the hire.
From an ASSOCIATED PRESS report shortly after Chizik was hired:
Auburn University President Jay Gogue said he made the decision to hire football coach Gene Chizik, and he said he did it without seeking or receiving input from school trustees or other boosters.
Gogue told The Birmingham News in a story Thursday that the ex-Iowa State coach was the only candidate recommended by athletic director Jay Jacobs.
The hiring has drawn criticism by some Auburn fans because Chizik was only 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State.
Gogue said he was “somewhat surprised” by the negative reaction.
Gogue said he wasn’t involved in interviewing any other candidate before meeting with Chizik and Jacobs Saturday in Memphis.
The president also instructed Jacobs to get permission from a school’s athletic director before interviewing a coach.
Gogue’s vocal defense of Auburn Athletics was ironic considering that he had previously admitted having nothing to do with the coaching search besides signing off on Chizik after Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs recommended him.
A Chizik who, despite his 5-19 Big 12 coaching record and then-current 10-game losing streak, was the only candidate Gogue talked to before making *his* hire.
Yet Gogue was “somewhat surprised” by the outrage over the hire?
Gogue is either too naive to be president of a major university or was not being entirely honest with the public.
I’m not so sure what’s so unbelievable, Chizik getting hired as head coach of an SEC powerhouse while on a 10-game coaching losing streak or the fact that the president of Auburn revealed that Chizik was the only candidate whom he was “recommended” by Jacobs.
Then again, we are talking Auburn, so perhaps “unbelievable” isn’t the best choice of a word here.