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Gene Chizik says he has no regrets leaving coaching for full-time fatherhood


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.

Gus Malzahn makes several changes to Auburn’s administrative staff

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A potentially big upcoming season for Gus Malzahn’s future at Auburn has resulted in several administrative changes to his off-the-field staff on the Plains this past week.

Announced on Thursday, the school confirmed several moves related to the running of the program. Perhaps the most notable change was the promotion of former Nick Saban staffer Patrick Suddes to assistant athletic director for football.

“I’m blessed to work for Coach Malzahn, and to work with this staff,” Suddes said in a release. “Auburn is a great place. It’s a blessing to be here. I’m going to embrace this new role and look forward to serving. I’m excited for the upcoming season.”

Stefan Schmidt takes over Suddes’ previous role as director of player personnel while Brett Whiteside slides over to director of football operations. Former AU offensive lineman Jorrell Bostrom, who won a ring on the 2010 national championship team, received a new title of director of player development.

That’s the biggest bits of shuffling among current staffers but the Tigers also announced two new hires to serve key roles. Former Cincinnati defensive line coach Kenny Ingram returns to Malzahn’s staff as director of player relations while Mollie Moore was poached from rival Georgia to serve as director of recruiting operations.

The moves still place Auburn well behind rival Alabama when it comes to number of non-coaching personnel on staff but do help the team play a bit of catch-up on that front.

Missouri AD not on board with swapping SEC divisions with Auburn

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One of the few storylines to emerge from the SEC’s annual spring meetings this year was about realignment. No, not adding teams to the conference but changing up the divisional alignment.

The discussion popped up mostly because those at Auburn really seemed to be banging the drum on a move to the SEC East. The flip side of any potential move by the Tigers to the other division has typically come with the idea that Missouri should be the one school who will then head to the SEC West and take their place.

As to be expected though, thanks but no thanks seems to be the response from those in Columbia to the idea.

“I think we’re fine and like where we are at,” Mizzou athletic director Jim Sterk told this week. “There’s been no discussion within the conference and with the commissioner about anything different. Until that point, I’m not going to speculate. But I can say we like where we are at. We’ve got schedules out until 2020 in football, so it’s something that would take a lot.”

There really hasn’t been any formal discussion of the idea of changing up divisions in the SEC but it’s pretty understandable for Missouri to do what they can to stay in the East, where they won two division titles not long after joining the league. Given Sterk’s comments, it seems likely this remains just an idea those at Auburn continue to talk about while everybody else in the conference sticks with the status quo.

Houston adds transfers from A&M, Auburn, Arizona State, Miami

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Major Applewhite‘s first roster at Houston will have a decidedly Power Five feel to it.

The football program announced Tuesday the addition of four transfers to the football team — wide receiver Ellis Jefferson (pictured) from Arizona State, offensive lineman Deon Mix from Auburn, defensive lineman Courtel Jenkins from Miami and defensive lineman Reggie Chevis from Texas A&M.

Jefferson, Mix and Chevis are all coming in as graduate transfers and are thus eligible to play in 2017 for the Cougars.  Jenkins will have to sit out the upcoming season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, and will then have one season of eligibility he can use in 2018.

A three-star 2013 signee, Jefferson took a redshirt as a true freshman. The next two seasons, the 6-4, 200-pound receiver showed promise as he caught a combined 23 passes for 304 yards in 2014 and 2015. He had a pair of receiving touchdowns for good measure.

His production dropped precipitously last season as he caught just two passes for 21 yards in 2016.  In mid-February, he announced his decision to transfer from the Sun Devils.

A three-star member of the Aggies’ 2013 recruiting class, Chevis was rated as the No. 39 inside linebacker in the country. He eventually moved to defensive tackle for the Aggies.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Chevis played in 17 games the past three seasons, with 13 of those appearances coming in 2016 ahead of his early-May transfer. The 6-1, 290-pound lineman was credited with two tackles for loss and a forced fumble this past season.

The 6-3, 301-pound Mix was a three-star 2013 recruit. He played in six games before deciding to transfer from The Plains, with three of those appearances coming last season.

The past three seasons, Jenkins, a three-star member of the Hurricanes’ 2014 recruiting class, appeared in 34 games.  He started seven of those contests, with all seven of those coming in 2015.

This past season, he was credited with 11 tackles in 10 games.  4.5 of those were tackles for loss, a total that was tied for 10th on the team.

In early February, The U announced that Jenkins had been dismissed for violating unspecified team rules.

Former Auburn LB Cameron Toney lands at FCS program

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Linebacker Cameron Toney has reportedly been on the prowl for a new place to call home since February. It appears that journey has led him to the land of the FCS.

In a private Instagram post, Toney announced he will join Chattanooga to continue and finish his college football career. Toney was not with the Auburn football program during spring practices.

Toney will eligible to play at Chattanooga this fall since he is moving from the FBS down to the FCS. He would not have been prevented from sitting out a season as one would transferring from one FBS program to another. Being a graduate transfer, Toney would have been eligible this fall at another FBS program if he decided to choose that path instead.

Toney will not escape the fall without a little SEC competition. Chattanooga is scheduled to play a Week 2 game at LSU this season.

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