AUBURN, Ala. — Gene Chizik was dismissed as Auburn’s coach the day after last season’s Iron Bowl, which saw his team lose to top-ranked Alabama 49-0.
Nearly a year later, Chizik has said nothing about his firing, staying out of the public’s eye aside from appearing on SiriusXM Radio as a college football analyst. Tuesday, he finally spoke of his termination as the Tigers’ coach, sitting down for an interview with USA Today.
So what led to last season’s 3-9 implosion?
Chizik said it was a combination of things, including roster attrition following the 2010 national championship run and the fact the Tigers were breaking in a pair of new coordinators.
And it didn’t help that it had problems at the quarterback position all season, either.
“What we probably didn't anticipate was, we didn't anticipate the struggles at quarterback,” Chizik told USA Today reporter Dan Wolken. “And we struggled mightily at quarterback, to the point where the last four or five games we started a true freshman. And you now in this league, that's just hard.”
What hasn’t been difficult, Chizik said, was witnessing the team rebound to such a remarkable extent.
“I couldn't be happier to sit there and watch them win these games, particularly these close ones, however they pull it out and we all know how that's gone this year,” he said. “It's an absolute joy for me to watch them celebrate and be happy and win. I think without question, that's what I get the biggest joy out of.”
He also lauded the performance of his former offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, in his first season as head coach.
"Gus has done a fantastic job, and he and I worked together for three years and he's done a fantastic job of regrouping the troops and them buying into him and the staff he brought in and it's really nice to see those guys rebound and do what we recruited them to do and that's win," he said. "They're definitely a talented group of young men, and they're great kids and they deserve this."