AUBURN — Embattled Auburn football coach Gene Chizik has heard from Tigers fans — both those offering support and those focused on winning, which has not happened much this year.
“I think that fans are exactly what they are, they’re fanatical and I think that’s a good thing,” Chizik said. “I’ve got hundreds of emails from a lot of great fans that are very supportive and understand that when you go through struggles you continue on the path and you don’t deviate off the path in terms of being who you are and pressing through those things. And then you have the other fans that again, are caught up in the winning and losing so much that it’s hard for them to see it that way. And you know what? Both of those are fair.
“It depends on who you are and it depends on how you see things from a general perspective. When you get into this business as a player or a coach, if that hurts your feelings and you can’t handle that, then you shouldn’t be a player or a coach because that’s what comes with the territory.”
Auburn (2-8, 0-7 SEC) is mired in its worst season in 60 years and calls for change in leadership of the program have been voiced far and wide. Chizik, who is 37-37 as a head coach including 32-18 at Auburn, is under contract through 2015 but has a buyout in his contract which will depreciate to $7.5 million on Dec. 1.
On Oct. 25, Auburn University president Jay Gogue issued a statement via the school’s website saying he shared many of the concerns of members of the “Auburn Family” and the football program would be “evaluated in an objective, thorough and professional process.” The statement made no mention of Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs or Chizik, who following the loss to Texas A&M two days later said he had not “heard or seen” the statement.
Even since, Chizik has avoided questions about his job security, repeating what has become his mantra in an all-time bad season: “it’s not about me.”
Several seniors, who will play their final home game when the Tigers host Alabama A&M (7-3, 6-3) SWAC at 1 p.m. Saturday, stood behind Chizik.
“Coach Chiz is a great coach,” wire receiveer Travante Stallworth said. “He’s doing things right around this way. We’ve just got to find a way just to win.”
Defensive back Ikeem Means feels Chizik should have another chance to turn things around.
“I think coach Chizik is honestly the best coach I’ve had,” Means said. “He came in and we were in a bowl game every year, so I feel like he can get the job done.”
Following Saturday’s 38-0 shutout by rival No. 5 Georgia, the fourth-year Tigers coach said he is in contact with Jacobs on a daily basis and typically not in contact with Gogue until after the season but did not expand with any details of his conversations.
Jacobs has been unavailable for comment all season.
As he has said every week, Chizik is focused on getting a win.
“It’s very simple in college football, in the NFL, in high school, it’s very simple, OK? It’s all about winning or losing,” he said. “There’s a lot of other things out there that really, really matter but at the end of the day, most people or a lot of people, see wins or losses.”