Gene Chizik fired as Auburn's coach after slide from SEC elite

AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn coach Gene Chizik was fired Sunday after the Tigers' rapid fall from national champions to a winless Southeastern Conference season.

The Tigers endured the worst slide within two years of winning a national championship of any college football team since the Associated Press poll started in 1936 and hadn't lost this many games since going 0-10 in 1950. The decision came 17 months after Auburn gave Chizik a contract worth some $3.5 million annually through 2015 with a hefty buyout.

"After careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of our football program, I have recommended that Coach Chizik not be retained," Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said in a statement. "President (Jay) Gogue has accepted my recommendation. Earlier this morning, I informed Gene that he will not return as head coach."

Auburn's players were informed in a team meeting Sunday.

"I'm extremely disappointed with the way this season turned out, and I apologize to the Auburn family and our team for what they have had to endure," Chizik said. "In my 27 years of coaching, I have gained an understanding of the high expectations in this profession. When expectations are not met, I understand changes must be made.

The Tigers went from 14-0 with a perfect SEC record with current Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton leading the offense in 2010 to 3-9 and 0-8, losing their final three league games by a combined 150-21. Auburn was blown out by Texas A&M (63-21) and Georgia (38-0), but the finale was even more painful for Tigers fans.

No. 2 Alabama cruised to a six-touchdown halftime lead Saturday en route to a 49-0 demolition that easily could have been much worse. It still was the second-most lopsided Iron Bowl in history, behind only the Crimson Tide's 55-0 win in 1948.

"While we experienced a tremendous low in 2012, I will always be proud of the incredible highs that we achieved, including three bowl victories, an SEC championship and a national championship," Chizik said.

Chizik was 33-19 overall and 15-17 in SEC games in four seasons at Auburn.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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