When most coaches — and most people — leave jobs they’d rather keep they say they’re “resigning to spend more time with their family.” Gene Chizik actually did that.
Chizik had two years of full-time fatherhood in between his firing as Auburn’s head coach after the 2012 season and has hiring as North Carolina’s defensive coordinator in 2015. Chizik’s family stayed behind in Auburn while he worked in Chapel Hill, and he wrote in a column for USA Today that an epiphany he experienced while walking to a Tar Heels practice made him realize he wanted to leave a game he loved to spend his time with people he loves more.
I attended all 25 of my son’s baseball games this spring, even periodically getting the chance to flip burgers in the concession stand as all parents do. I have spent invaluable time with my twin daughters, who are now sophomores at Auburn University. Sometimes, it is daddy-daughter dates, while other times it might be late-night talks about life. Either way, they are priceless moments.
I wake up every morning unburdened by the stress so many working dads feel, whether they coach, manage a business or work in a factory. Getting some relief from the grind has given me two priceless gifts — quality time with my kids and perspective on life.
It has been an amazing blessing to be able to do things that were not possible for so many years. Until this spring, I had only seen two of my son’s baseball games in two years. I was not present when my daughters moved into their freshmen dorms at Auburn, a great place we still call home.
In 2016, as I walked to another two-a-day practice at North Carolina, I watched carloads of families moving into the freshmen dorms. My family was doing the exact same thing 500 miles away. That’s when it hit me. It was time to make a change.
I knew right then I would never miss another of my son’s football or baseball games. He only has two years of high school left. There will be no more do-overs. Our nest will then be empty.
Chizik is only 55 and, as he noted in the paragraph above, his youngest child will be off to college next year. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he returns to coaching again.
But it sure doesn’t seem like it.