AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn is prepared to hire Iowa State’s Gene Chizik as its new head football coach, according to several reports, although the school has denied any decision has been made.
Chizik, a former defensive coordinator for the Tigers from 2002-04, is 5-19 in two years at Iowa State.
Rivals.com was the first to report Chizik’s hiring. Several newspapers have since confirmed it, citing anonymous sources.
Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs and several athletic department officials arrived at the Auburn-Opelika airport via plane from Memphis on Saturday around 3:30 p.m.
Chizik’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, is based in Memphis.
Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said Chizik has told him he is leaving.
"Gene [Chizik] confirmed for me today that he is accepting the head coaching position at Auburn, Pollard said "I'm disappointed for our Iowa State fans and student-athletes that he has chosen to leave our program after only two seasons.
"I understand that it [Auburn] is a dream job for him, but the timing and the way it played out has been hurtful and disappointing. Although this is a significant set back, we will get through the challenge because the Iowa State University athletics program is far greater than one person."
Asked if he had made a hire, Jacobs responded: “Nope, we’re still in the process.”
“I think that if everything continues to go well, then in the next few days we ought to have the process narrowed down pretty well, he added. “ We’ll go from there, but we’re still moving along. It’s been good so far.”
Asked specifically if reports about Chizik were true, he shook his head and said: “We’re just still working through the deal.”
A group of fans gathered at the airport just before the university plane landed. One particularly vocal fan loudly booed the plane as it drove by, extending his arms and giving two thumbs down.
As Jacobs walked off the tarmac, the fan yelled, “We want a leader, not a loser.”
Chizik, 46, coordinated Auburn’s defense for three years. During the Tigers’ undefeated 2004 season, they gave up 11.3 points per game, the lowest total in the nation. He won the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.
Chizik joined Mack Brown’s staff at Texas as a co-defensive coordinator in 2005 and won the national championship that year.
After two years he got his first head coaching job at Iowa State, where has had little success. The Cyclones won their first two games this year but lost 10 straight to finish the season.
Chizik is a 1985 graduate of Florida, where he played linebacker.
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Clemson in 1988. He’s also had coaching stops at Middle Tennessee State (1990-91), Stephen F. Austin (1992-97) and Central Florida (1998-2001).
Chizik would replace Tommy Tuberville, who went 85-40 in 10 seasons at Auburn before resigning Dec. 3.