The rumors have officially come to fruition.
With speculation swirling, North Carolina confirmed Thursday evening in a press release that Gene Chizik has decided to step down as the Tar Heels’ defensive coordinator. Chizik stated he decided to “step away from coaching to be with my family.”
John Papuchis, UNC’s linebackers coach and former DC at Nebraska (2012-14), will take over for Chizik as coordinator.
“After a lot of prayer and discussions with my wife and children, I have made the difficult decision to step away from coaching to be with my family,” said Chizik in a statement. “The past two years at the University of North Carolina and the opportunity to work with Coach Fedora have been a blessing, and I’m extremely proud of the success we enjoyed. I have always told my players family should come before football, and it’s time for me to follow my own advice. I look forward to watching my own son play the game I’ve dedicated my life and career to for the next two years, and I look forward to the simple joys of being a father and husband I’ve missed out on.”
“These last two years with Gene have been exactly what I hoped they would be,” head coach Larry Fedora said. “The defensive improvement speaks for itself, but I’m equally as proud of the growth and development of our student-athletes on the defensive side of the ball. I hate to lose Gene but certainly understand the reasoning behind his decision, I know it’s been hard on him and his family. We wish the Chizik family all the best and appreciate their dedication to Tar Heel football.”
Chizik was in charge of a significant and impressive — and immediate — turnaround of UNC’s defense.
In 2014, the year prior to Chizik’s arrival, UNC finished 119th in scoring defense (38.9 points per game) and 118th in total defense (263.5 yards per game); in 2015, they were 35th (22.6 ppg) and 26th (194.5 ypg), respectively. This past season, they were 14th in yards per game (183.8) but dipped to 46th in points per game (24.9).