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November 26, 2013

Gene Chizik breaks silence, discusses Auburn firing and Tigers' 2013 season with USA Today

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.”

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Mike Niziolek joins the Ledger-Enquirer after spending the past three years with MLive.com. The past year he covered Eastern Michigan University athletics, including football and recruiting. He also filled in as a backup writer for the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings and University of Michigan. Mike is a 2004 graduate of Michigan State.