AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs made the recommendation to fire football coach Gene Chizik, and will subsequently be in charge of a four-man search committee to name Chizik’s replacement.
Jacobs’ own job security has been a topic of discussion as well, but university president Jay Gogue charged Jacobs with helping to decide the fate of the Tigers’ coach from 2009-12. Jacobs told Chizik, coach of the 2010 national champion, on Saturday night following Auburn’s 49-0 loss to Alabama that he would recommend to Gogue the football program go in a different direction.
Gogue accepted that decision Sunday morning, and Chizik was informed later by Jacobs he was officially terminated with three years remaining on his contract.
“My primary consideration was doing what is in the best interest of our current student-athletes and the future of our football program,” Jacobs said. “After some tough losses in a transition year in 2011, I had hoped our team would show improvement this season. Unfortunately, it did not.”
Chizik’s assistants have been given the option to stay for now, though the eventual head coach will have a say in their longterm futures in Auburn. No interim coach has been determined.
Jacobs said that executive associate athletics director Tim Jackson has been reassigned within the athletics department, and will no longer be in charge of football decisions.
In a letter addressed to season-ticket holders: Jacobs wrote, “Despite substantial investment in personnel and facilities made possible by your support, the football program did not live up to our expectations. The results of the 2012 football season are simply unacceptable at Auburn.”
Jacobs will lead a committee including former Auburn football players Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Mac Crawford.
“(They) share our commitment to competing at the highest level and understand what it takes to succeed at Auburn,” Jacobs said. “We will move as quickly as possible in the search for our next head coach and will do so consistent with the expectations set by Dr. Gogue.
“We will be guided by the benchmarks we expect in the leader of our program. Those benchmarks are a track record as a proven winner, a commitment to playing within the rules, and student-athlete academic success.”
Chizik’s firing is effective today, meaning his buyout begins at $7.7 million. It will be paid in monthly installments until the 2015-16 fiscal year, and will be mitigated by any future income he earns during that time.
“I think we’re going to have the best pool we’ve possibly ever had to hire a head coach,” Jacobs said. “People that have the personality we need to have to win championships, those are the people that will be coming to the front of the line.”
Jacobs pointed out the successes in what he and Gogue have deemed the five main factors in his own job performance: academics, rules compliance, gameday experience, finances and competitive programs.
“What I’m worried about is making sure I do my job,” Jacobs said. “My main concern right now is doing what’s best for this football team and the student athletes.”