AUBURN, Ala. — A mandatory player’s meeting was called Sunday, summoning the Tigers to the Auburn football facilities for a 1 p.m. CT sitdown with the coaches they won’t work with again.
“Dead silence. A lot of hearts were broken. Emotions everywhere,” sophomore running back Tre Mason said, about an hour following the team was told head coach Gene Chizik was fired.
“It was a rough day for everybody. There are going to be a lot of tears shed because there are a lot of relationships that may be put on hold or come to an end today. I have nothing negative to say about Coach Chizik. He’s done a lot for me and this program. I wish him the best of luck in his future.”
As an outgoing senior, tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen – who was Chizik’s first visit in 2008 as a recruit – said Chizik will be able to get a breather in the midst of an extended coaching career.
“I have a lot of respect for coach Chizik, and I know some program’s going to get a great coach out of him,” Lutzenkirchen said. “He’ll be able to take a year or two off, maybe, and spend time with his family. Much-needed time, probably. He’s got young kids so he’ll be able to watch them grow up and be part of their adolescence.”
For the returning players, it’s wait-and-see who will be their next guide. Some are bound to transfer following a 3-9 season that brought on this regime change.
“I’m going to do my best to try to continue to keep everybody all in,” Mason said. “You never know what’s in people’s minds. I’m going to do my best to help get everybody over it.
“We’re going to take that as motivation to get better. When we lost those games, you know you have to fight back. We’re not going to take that lightly. We’re going to do whatever we can to get better. We have to change the results of this season.”