Gene Chizik fired from Auburn

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News of Tom O’Brien‘s firing from North Carolina State came earlier today, and as a bit of a surprise. Gene Chizik‘s fate at Auburn? Not so much.

Multiple reports Sunday, including ones from CBS Sports‘ Bruce Feldman and al.com, claimed that Chizik has been fired one day after a 49-0 thrashing at the hands of end-all, be-all rival, Alabama. Auburn confirmed Chizik’s firing in a release a short while later.

“After careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of our football program, I have recommended that Coach Chizik not be retained,” said athletic director Jay Jacobs.  “President Gogue has accepted my recommendation.  Earlier this morning, I informed Gene that he will not return as head coach.”

A committee consisting of former players Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Mac Crawford will conduct the search for a new head coach.

Here is Chizik’s statement:

I am very grateful for the opportunity that I had during the last four seasons to serve as the head football coach at Auburn University. I’m extremely disappointed with the way this season turned out and I apologize to the Auburn family and our team for what they have had to endure.

In my 27 years of coaching, I have gained an understanding of the high expectations in this profession. When expectations are not met, I understand changes must be made.

While we experienced a tremendous low in 2012, I will always be proud of the incredible highs that we achieved, including three bowl victories, an SEC championship and a national championship.

I want to thank Dr. Gogue and Jay Jacobs for the great opportunity they gave me. I’m confident in their leadership ability to continue to move this football program forward.

I feel blessed to have been surrounded with so many great coaches, players and administrators that have worked relentlessly and dedicated themselves to this institution. I will miss not being able to continue to mentor these players on a daily basis. I’m confident these young men will continue to excel both on and off the field. They are a great group and I wish them nothing but the best.

I’ve been fortunate to spend seven years of my coaching career at Auburn, which is an incredible place to work and live. My family and I have been blessed to call Auburn home and look forward to remaining in the Auburn community.

I have said this many times, but the Auburn fans are the best in college football. They have an incredible passion and love for their school and I want to thank them for their support in good times and in bad times.

As I said four years ago when I arrived, Auburn was great way before we got here and it will remain great long after we leave. My sentiments about Auburn have not and will not change. I wish the next football coach all the best and I anticipate a smooth transition.

I encourage the Auburn family to continue to be ‘All In’ and support this great university and its athletics programs. War Eagle!

Chizik leaves just two years after leading Auburn to a BCS championship over Oregon with Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton. However, Chizik’s time on The Plains has been accompanied by an NCAA microscope on more than one occasion, including an inquiry as recently as this season.

Auburn finished 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC in 2012, its worst conference record ever. In four seasons at Auburn, Chizik was 33-19 as the Tigers’ head coach. The total buyout for Chizik and his assistants is $11.09 million.

Chizik is the fourth SEC coach to lose his job this season, joining Derek Dooley (Tennessee), Joker Phillips (Kentucky) and John L. Smith (Arkansas).

Iowa LB Aaron Mends to miss extended time with injury

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Talk about a hard-luck story.

After never starting a game at Iowa, Aaron Mends (pictured, blocking punt) had earned a starting job at outside linebacker during practice this spring.  With football being the cruel mistress that it can be at times, the Hawkeyes announced Friday night that Mends “will miss an extended period of time due to injury.” The program offered no details as to the specific nature of the injury, although it’s believed to involve the knee.

According to the school’s release, the fifth-year senior suffered the injury during the final week of Iowa’s spring drills.

Mends was a three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class.  He was the highest-rated linebacker in Iowa’s class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Mends has played in 38 games the past three seasons.  A baker’s dozen of those appearances came during the 2017 season.

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.