Gene Chizik is as much a mystery as any nondescript, leather-jacket wearing 27-24 overall record head coach can be.
Under Chizik’s tenure Auburn has been cited by the NCAA for recruiting violations in Big Cat Weekend, forced to discontinue the recruiting trips known as Tiger Prowl, is the subject of NCAA recruiting investigations in Louisiana and South Florida, has made the NCAA and SEC look bad in their initial investigation into the Cecil Newton $180,000 pay-for-play scheme and decision to allow Cam Newton to remain eligible in 2010 – points which sit uneasily with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and NCAA President Mark Emmert, and may yet be linked to the Will Lyles cesspool of “influence” on recruits like Lache Seastrunk (link has some words NSFW). It is also unclear if Chizik fielded academically ineligible players in the BCS game versus Oregon.
Is he a high-character guy capable of hiring a professional staff and running a successful football program despite evidence to the contrary at Iowa State and, so far, at Auburn?
Or is he a dupe for the money men behind the Auburn athletics real power structure?
We know one thing Chizik is not: self-aware.
Pete Thamel of The New York Times reports the Auburn coach goaded an NCAA enforcement official into stating on the record that its investigation into the Cam Newton pay-for-play is not over, witnessed by no less than the entire SEC:
Last month, when athletic officials from the Southeastern Conference met in Destin, Fla., the annual gathering had an eye-popping moment. Julie Roe Lach, the N.C.A.A.’s vice president for enforcement, made a presentation to the group, which included every men’s basketball coach, football coach and athletic director in the conference. When she opened up the room for discussion, Auburn’s football coach, Gene Chizik, raised his hand first. He peppered Roe Lach with a flurry of questions about the N.C.A.A.’s investigation into Cam Newton and why the N.C.A.A. had not publicly announced that the investigation was over. Chizik complained that the inquiry’s open-ended nature had hurt Auburn’s recruiting and he followed up at least three times, leading to a testy exchange.
“You’ll know when we’re finished,” Roe Lach told Chizik, according to several coaches who were at the meeting. “And we’re not finished.”
As Defensive Coordinator under Tommy Tuberville when the NCAA punished Auburn for academic irregularities (and the HBO Four alleged pay-for-play in Tigers football), Chizik knows what happens to coaches on the Plains when the NCAA (or SACS) formally comes to call. (See also Terry Bowden 1998).
Gene may not be self-aware, but he is self-serving.
He returned from the SEC Conference in Destin and promptly renegotiated his contract to prevent Auburn from suspending his pay during an SEC or NCAA investigation.
Chizik’s actions tell us Happy Days may be ending for the “All In” family. Of course, the rest of the SEC knew those days were never here to stay. It is Auburn, after all.
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