So the wife and I were leaving a movie this afternoon when I received a text message that Iowa State Head Football Coach Gene Chizik had accepted the same job as the Auburn University.
At first I was quite dismayed, wondering “where we will go from here?” and “how far will this set us back?"
My next thought was “why in the world would Auburn hire him”? Auburn, definitely a better job than I-State, isn’t the type of program that hires a head coach who has an all-time record of 5 wins and 19 losses. Sure he has ties to the school and was a sexy candidate for several jobs after Texas’ national title (2005?) but come on, he had 2 wins last year – Kent State and South Dakota State (IAA)!
When Chizik was hired we knew he wasn’t a lifer in Ames. He had big aspirations and we were just a start. If things went well, he’d get hired to a bigger program but we’d be left in good shape. If things went bad, we’d fire him but we’re not likely worse for wear. However no one expected that things would go bad and he’d go onto a bigger program.
I say that things are bad, and they are, but up until I received that text message I had confidence that this was just part of the rebuilding process of breaking in a new scheme.
Then I made some calls and started to read the internet buzz on the goings on of the afternoon. It turns out that I was a bit naïve as to how Chizik has been perceived by people in the know at Iowa State.
Paul has a great read about it at CycloneReport.
The chinks in the Chizik armor were actually apparent to me, too, though in my role as fan it’s was easy to look optimistically past them. Certain things about Chizik’s gameday performance always bothered me such as the improbable loss at Toledo last year and fact that he inexplicably lost to three first year head coaches and one coach who had already been fired this year. His performance in the business aspects of his job were rough at times, too, such as using the 3rd highest salary budget for assistant coaches in the league on hiring a bunch of your buddies who were either under qualified or well past their prime (undeserving of the salary, either way). I asked the wife for opinion on all of this tonight and, after clearly pointing out that she’s not nearly as emotionally invested in sports as I am, acknowledged that she just didn’t feel good about the direction of the program under Chizik.
Whether or not Chizik was the right guy for Iowa State or not and whether Iowa State was the right school for Chizik or not = there’s still one thing that irks me about the entire situation: Chizik broke his word. He’s always purported to be a stand up guy. He’s big on the talk of commitment and what it means to make one. He’s rumored to have withdrawn scholarship offers to recruits who have committed to him then taken visits elsewhere. Then he leaves here after two dismal seasons?
Here’s a quote from Chizik in his announcement as the Iowa State coach in November 2006: "The institutional commitment being made by Iowa State was critical in my decision. I value integrity, loyalty and leadership. Dr. Geoffroy, Jamie (Pollard) and the other staff I've met have operated with class and dignity. That is my expectation for the Iowa State football program, too."
Chizik may value integrity, loyalty, and leadership but he doesn’t show it.
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Update 12/15/08 7:15 PM: A member of CycloneReport.com asked people to identify when they first questioned the fallacy of the Chizik coaching brand and here are the responses:
- Completely giving up on returning punts and kicks for more than half the 2007 season. He just placed our former All-Conference WR in the return position and instructed him to let them all go over his head (at least fair catch if you're worried about fumbles!)
- The statistical improbably loss at Toledo in 2007. IIRC, we were up by 11 with 5 minutes to go or so, we stopped a fake punt and two 2-point conversions to lose by 1 point. That's a special kind of gameday management.
- After the first game he coached when we lost to Kent St 14-23 which followed a summer outing schedule where Chizik challenged crowds to "Come to the Kent State game. You WON'T be dissapointed!" (lots of build up for the game and then a disappointing, underperforming loss)
- After his 2nd game when he lost to IAA Northern Iowa (at home!)
- The rumored comments from the Oklahoma State coach in 2008
- Mistakes in the Red Zone this year against Iowa
- Losing 0-20 in the first half at UNLV
- The undiscipline nature of the team in the first half of 2007 with the score of unsportsmanlike penalties (LJ tossed from the UNLV game)
- When he didn't hire a better staff. With the 3rd highest paid assistant money in Big 12 he hired a bunch of his friends.
- When he kept bringing up how bad a shape this program was when I took over. Winners don't do that.
- When the Defense never ever got better and he was supposed to be a defensive Guru
- My first "ruh-roh" moment came during the Baylor game this year. They just toyed with us and that was basically the end of the season