Gene Chizik Talks About Messy Departure from ISU

Iowa State's head coach Gene Chizik reacts to a play against Kansas during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008 in Ames, Iowa. Kansas beat Iowa State 35-33. (AP Photo/Steve Pope)


By James Steward

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Auburn coach Gene Chizik opened up about his messy departure from Iowa State in a new book, comparing his mixed feelings about interviewing with the Tigers after just two seasons in Ames to cheating on a spouse.

Chizik also revealed in "All In: What it Takes to be the Best," set to be released July 5, that he withdrew his name from consideration shortly after his first interview with Auburn in 2008 — only to be stunned when he was offered his "dream job" later that day.

The Associated Press received an advance copy of the book, which is co-written by Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist David Thomas. The book comes on the heels of Chizik's Tigers finishing 14-0 and winning last season's BCS national title.

The Auburn job came open when Tommy Tuberville stepped down following the 2009 season. But Chizik said that he never believed Auburn, where he served as defensive coordinator from 2002-04, would consider hiring him because of his 5-19 record at Iowa State.

Chizik said he told Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs that he didn't want to agree to an interview unless he was a serious candidate. Chizik also expressed concern if news leaked about him showing interest in the Auburn job that it would cause trouble for him in Ames.

"I don't know what it's like to cheat on a spouse, but on the ride over, I imagined the feeling had to be similar to what I was experiencing at that moment," Chizik said about his mixed feelings shortly before speaking with Auburn.

Chizik wrote that after his first interview with Auburn, he was convinced he wouldn't get the job. After news of his talk with Auburn had been leaked to the media, Chizik left Jacobs a phone message telling him he was bowing out of consideration.

Chizik told Iowa State assistant athletic director Steve Malchow of that decision and boarded a plane to Des Moines. But when Chizik landed, he got a text message from Jacobs to call him back. When he did, Jacobs offered him the job.

"Make no mistake, I was humbled by Auburn's decision. And I knew this had to be a God appointment because this whole thing just didn't make sense otherwise. I knew God had to be behind opening this door," Chizik said in the book.

Chizik said that while accepting the job was a "no-brainer" for his career, leaving Iowa State was agonizing for personal reasons. He also said his departure "became more problematic than it should have been," adding that two fantastic years ended with two horrible days.

Chizik said that Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard told him he didn't need to meet with him and president Gregory Geoffroy before he left for Auburn. Chizik thought such a meeting could have assuaged the negative tone surrounding his departure, adding that he wasn't prepared for how quickly things turned hostile for him in Ames.

Chizik also expressed dismay at a statement Pollard released once news broke of Chizik's departure questioning the timing of his decision and how the process played out.

"Jamie is a quality athletic director, and I respect him for what he has done at Iowa State. But I wish he had handled my departure differently. It could have, and should have, gone so much better for all involved," Chizik wrote.

Chizik said he and Pollard haven't spoken since he left. Malchow told the AP by email on Thursday that Pollard won't comment on the book.

Pollard hired former Auburn coordinator Paul Rhoads — who lost his job once Chizik arrived — and the Cyclones finished 7-6 in 2009. Rhoads became the first Iowa State coach since 1931 to post a winning record in his first season.

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