AUBURN, Ala. -- Head coach Gene Chizik was on the verge of tears in his opening statement Saturday, but it was not due to Auburn's down-to-the-wire 12-10 loss to No. 2-ranked LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Chizik revealed that a student coach with the football team, Joe Bagwell, unexpectedly passed away earlier Saturday at East Alabama Medical Center. Bagwell, a Huntsville native and Auburn graduate, was in his first year as a student coach, after previously serving as an athletic trainer.
The cause of Bagwell's death could not be released under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. He was 23.
"It is a very heavy heart for myself and a lot of our players and a lot of our coaches right now," were Chizik's first words at the podium Saturday night. "The young man, who was a student assistant (coach) with us, in football, passed away shortly before the game unexpectedly, and it is very tragic. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family. (His name is) Joe Bagwell, and that was tough."
Bagwell has over 1,000 friends on Facebook, where his cover photo is a picture from the stands at the 2011 BCS National Championship Game in Arizona.