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).

More signs connecting Charlie Strong to analyst role at Alabama

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At this point, it would seemingly be an upset if Charlie Strong doesn’t land at Alabama football.

In early December of last year, Strong was let go as the head coach at South Florida.  Over the past two-plus months, the 59-year-old Strong has remained on the outside of the coaching profession looking in.  There has been speculation, though, that Strong could be returning to Florida and joining Dan Mullens‘ extended staff as a defensive analyst.

Late last week, however, it was reported that Charlie Strong was in Tuscaloosa visiting with the Alabama football coaching staff.  A few days later, it’s now being reported that Strong is expected back in T-Town this week.  Perhaps as early as tomorrow, according to Matt Zenitz of al.com.

Nick Saban doesn’t have an opening on his 10-man on-field coaching staff.  However, Charlie Strong could conceivably join the Alabama football program as some type of an analyst, ala Butch Jones and myriad others.

Strong has spent the past decade as a head coach.  After going 37-15 in four seasons (2010-13) at Louisville, Strong left to take the head job at Texas.  Three seasons (2014-16) in Austin ended with his dismissal following a 16-21 record.  Strong’s tenure at USF ended after three seasons (2017-19) as well and a 4-8 2019 campaign.

In the last six years of his head-coaching career, Strong posted a 37-37 record.

Prior to that, Strong spent seven years (2003-09) as the defensive coordinator at Florida.  During that time with the Gators, he also coached defensive ends and linebackers.  For four of those seasons, Mullen was UF’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach before leaving to take the Mississippi State job.

That was actually Strong’s fourth stint with the Gators.  From 1991-94, he coached defensive tackles (1994) and defensive ends (1991-93).  He also served as outside linebackers coach from 1988-89.  Strong began his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at UF in 1983-84.

Strong was also the defensive coordinator at South Carolina for four years (1999-2002) before moving on to Gainesville that fourth time.  In between the third Gainesville stint and his time in Columbia, Strong was the defensive line coach at Notre Dame from 1995-98.

Kentucky’s Vince Marrow will likely be highest-paid non-coordinator in college football this year

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For Vince Marrow of Kentucky, it paid to be wooed by Michigan State.

After an initial denial, Mel Tucker reversed course and left Colorado to become the Michigan State head coach. Not only will Tucker be doubling his salary in East Lansing, but his salary pool for assistant coaches will be nearly double what he had to work with in Boulder as well.

Marrow was one of the assistants Tucker had hoped to bring to Michigan State, wooing the longtime Kentucky coach and close friend into his new fold. Instead, he opted to eschew the chance to move to Michigan State and remain at Kentucky.

In a non-coincidental move, UK Monday released the details of a new contract agreement signed last Thursday by Marrow. Per that new deal, Marrow, who is tight ends coach while also serving as recruiting coordinator and associate head coach, will be paid $900,000 annually as part of the three-year contract. This past season, Marrow was paid $600,000 in guaranteed compensation.

With Mike Yurcich ($950,000) taking over as Texas’ offensive coordinator after spending 2019 as Ohio State’s quarterbacks coach and Sam Pittman ($900,000) leaving as Georgia’s offensive line to take the head job at Arkansas, Marrow is currently the highest-paid non-coordinator in college football. That statement is based on the USA Today coaches salary database.

Marrow will also have a salary on par with UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and slightly above the $875,000 set for defensive coordinator Brad White.

The 51-year-old Marrow has spent the past eight seasons at Kentucky.  He was retained when Mark Stoops took over the Wildcats in November of 2012.

Chris Creighton puts finishing touches on Eastern Michigan staff with three additions

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Eastern Michigan head coach Chris Creighton is ready to go to work with a new staff finally put in place in Ypsilanti. On Monday, Eastern Michigan formally announced the additions of tight ends coach Brandon Blaney, cornerbacks coach LaMarcus Hicks, and quarterbacks coach Mike Piatkowski. A few role adjustments on the staff were also ironed out for the upcoming season.

Blaney joins the Eastern Michigan staff after spending the past two seasons as an offensive analyst for Jim Harbaugh and Michigan. Blaney also has NFL coaching experience as an assistant with the Tennessee Titans and he previously coached at Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Youngstown State. For Creighton, it was a long time coming to be able to land Blaney on his coaching staff.

“I have wanted to work with Coach Blaney since the late 1990s,” Creighton said in a released statement. “I am thrilled that it has worked out for him to join us here at Eastern Michigan. He has been successful at so many different levels. His expertise and genuine care for our players will serve us well.”

Hicks joins the Eagles program after two years at another MAC program, Bowling Green. Piatkowski comes to the program from his most recent job at Indiana, but he has a history with Eastern Michigan. Piatkowski was a graduate assistant on the coaching staff at EMU in 2016-17. Piatkowski also played for Creighton at Drake.

As for returning members of the coaching staff, James Patton is taking on the role of run game coordinator while retaining his role as offensive line coach. Fred Reed will move from coaching the cornerbacks to coaching the safeties, now that Hicks will take on the cornerback coaching. Special teams coordinator Jay Nunez will now also be in charge of coaching defensive tackles.

Eastern Michigan will begin spring football practices on March 10. The Eagles are coming off a 6-7 season that ended with a loss to Pitt in the Quick Lane Bowl.

Mel Tucker bringing OL coach Chris Kapilovic from Colorado to Michigan State

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As is typically the case any time a head coach moves from one school to another, he is bound to take some assistants from his previous stop with him. Mel Tucker appears to be doing just that as he puts together his coaching staff at Michigan State. Offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic is reportedly making the move from Boulder to East Lansing to remain a part of Tucker’s coaching staff.

Football Scoop and Buff Stampede each reported the news of Kapilovic following Tucker to Michigan State on Monday afternoon. As reported by Football Scoop, Kapilovic turned down a couple of offers to join the coaching staff at Auburn and Missouri this offseason with the intent on remaining in Colorado with Tucker. But once Tucker had his sudden change of heart regarding the vacancy in East Lansing, the situation changed for Kapilovic as well. And with those SEC offers no longer being options, a move to the Big Ten may be just as lucrative. It was certainly lucrative enough for Tucker, of course, and Tucker’s coaching staff should be set to receive better pay compared to the pay that was being offered at Colorado.

Tucker has already retained two holdovers from the coaching staff assembled by former Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio. Ron Burton opted to stay at Michigan State as a defensive line coach after nearly leaving for Indiana (Indiana has just filled the vacancy Burton was slated to occupy). Mike Tressel, who was Dantonio’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach (and was named the interim head coach following Dantonio’s retirement), is also staying in East Lansing.