AMES, Iowa – Gene Chizik, the assistant head coach at the University of Texas whose resume includes a national championship with the Longhorns and league championships in three different Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conferences, is the new head football coach at Iowa State University.
Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard and President Dr. Gregory Geoffroy made the announcement in Hilton Coliseum at a news conference / pep rally.
"Gene Chizik is about winning championships," Pollard said of the 21-year coaching veteran. "He has a thorough understanding of what’s involved in building a championship program. He has had an integral role on teams that won national, conference and conference playoff titles."
"Gene is one of, if not the, top coaching prospects in the nation," Pollard said. "After talking with Coach (Mack) Brown and Texas Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds, it confirmed our belief that Coach Chizik be our top target. The goal then became making sure we were successful in recruiting him and his family to Iowa State University."
Chizik has agreed to a six-year deal worth $6.75 million in guaranteed compensation with incentives that could increase the total to more than $10 million. In addition, Iowa State agreed to provide Chizik a guaranteed package of $1.5 million plus incentives to compensate his assistant coaches, which is the third-highest assistant coach package in the Big 12.
"It’s been a lifetime professional dream to be the CEO of a football program and I couldn’t be more pleased that Iowa State University is the institution providing me this opportunity," Chizik said. "I’ve had great mentors to learn from in my career, and I am fully prepared and energized to begin my Cyclone tenure.
"The institutional commitment being made by Iowa State was critical in my decision. I value integrity, loyalty and leadership. Dr. Geoffroy, Jamie (Pollard) and the other staff I’ve met have operated with class and dignity. That is my expectation for the Iowa State football program, too."
For the past two years, Chizik served as assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator for Mack Brown at Texas. The Longhorns won the 2005 national championship – along with the Big 12 regular season and playoff titles – with a perfect 13-0 record. The 2006 Longhorns were 9-3 overall and are awaiting their bowl invitation. Chizik will skip that bowl and start his employment at ISU today.
Prior to his appointment at Texas, Chizik was Tommy Tuberville’s defensive coordinator at Auburn for three seasons as the Tigers compiled a 30-9 overall record. Auburn was undefeated (13-0) and ranked No. 2 in both major polls in 2004 when Chizik won the Frank Broyles Award, honoring the nation’s top assistant coach. Additionally, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit listed Chizik No. 1 on his 2006 Herbie Award lists for "Top Future Coach" and "Best Defensive Mind."
Chizik enjoyed a personal 28-game winning streak over two-plus years with the Tigers and Longhorns. He has been the defensive coordinator on clubs that won 35 of 38 games the last three seasons.
The national championship won by Texas in 2005 was the school’s first since 1970. When Auburn won the 2004 SEC Championship game, it was the Tigers’ first league crown since 1989. Additionally, Chizik helped Middle Tennessee State win the Ohio Valley Conference title (1990) and Clemson capture the 1988 ACC championship.
Pollard also cited Chizik’s work as a defensive mastermind.
"There isn’t a coordinator in the country, who produced the consistent and comprehensive quality of Coach Chizik’s defenses since 2000," Pollard said. "His scoring defenses have ranked among the nation’s Top 10 three of the last four years and, as the saying goes, ‘defense wins championships.’"
The 2006 Texas squad is second in the NCAA for rushing defense (58.8 ypg) and limited top-ranked Ohio State to just 79 yards on the ground. The aggressive 2006 UT defense has recorded 100 tackles for loss, 96 quarterback hurries and is tied for 5th nationally in takeaways (30).
The Longhorns of 2005 were 8th nationally in scoring defense, 10th in total defense and 4th in pass efficiency defense. Ten Longhorn defenders were All-Big 12 selections, including four first-teamers.
Chizik’s 2004 Auburn defense led the nation in scoring defense (11.3 ppg) while playing the NCAA’s fifth-toughest schedule. The 2003 Tigers were in the nation’s Top 10 for total defense (5th), rushing defense (7th) and scoring defense (9th).
Chizik has been a regular visitor to post-season play as well. He has coached in six bowls games and been on the winning sideline each time. Among those post-season appearances were BCS games in the 2006 Rose (Texas) and 2005 Sugar (Auburn) Bowls.
The 44-year-old Chizik said that each of the championship teams he’s been around featured student-athletes committed to academic and athletics excellence and had the selfless desire to be part of a great team.
"The foundation of a championship program starts with the players," Chizik said. "Relating to the student-athletes is simply the most important thing we can do as coaches. Having great relations allows coaches to demand excellence in the classroom and on the field, while also creating a sense of team unity. I can’t wait to start working with our players and building relationships and establishing significant and common goals."
Among the players he tutored at Texas are All-America defenders Michael Huff (S), Rodrique Wright (DT) and Aaron Harris (LB). Huff, a first-round NFL draft pick by the Raiders, and Wright were consensus All-Americans. At Auburn, Chizik coached Carlos Rogers, the 2004 Jim Thorpe Award winner, and consensus All-America safety Junior Rosegreen.
Chizik was also defensive coordinator for four seasons (1998-2001) at Central Florida. He improved a unit that ranked 81st nationally in total defense before his arrival to one that rated 16th in 2001. Chizik coached both linebackers (1998) and the secondary (1999-2001) at UCF. During his tenure with the Golden Knights, Chizik made frequent trips from Orlando to Tampa to study defensive concepts with then-Buccaneers’ Head Coach Tony Dungy and Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin.
"That personal commitment (meeting with Dungy and Kiffin) to get better demonstrates the passion and desire that Gene has to be great," Pollard said.
Chizik also coached at Stephen F. Austin University, tutoring linebackers (1992-94) and the secondary (1995-97). He was SFA’s defensive coordinator in 1996-97. Philadelphia Eagle Jeremiah Trotter was his star with the Lumberjacks.
He started coaching as a defensive coordinator (1986-88) in his home state at Seminole High School in St. Petersburg, Fla. Chizik stepped into college coaching at Clemson University (1988-89) as a graduate assistant for a pair of 10-win teams and then worked at Middle Tennessee State (1990-91) as a full-time assistant.
Pollard said that he contacted numerous candidates and conducted in-person interviews with six individuals. Chizik’s stock rose among the pool because of his overall approach to managing a program.
"Gene understands what is necessary to be the CEO of a football program at this level," Pollard said. "His demeanor and overall plan for the total program really stood out. Gene’s priorities for what is expected of his student-athletes as well as all people that touch his program are highly impressive."
President Geoffroy shared similar impressions of the Cyclone coach.
"Gene’s emphasis on the academic and athletics achievements of our student-athletes is inspiring," Geoffroy said. "He embraces the critical responsibilities of leading 100-plus young men and uniting our Cyclone support base. Gene’s success, especially at a peer institution in the Big 12, will pay great dividends."
Pollard said that identifying a coach, who could add to the foundation built in the last 12 years by Dan McCarney, was important in the search.
"Gene’s familiarity with the landscape of the Big 12 – especially in the state of Texas – was key," Pollard said. "This is a relationship-building business and his (Chizik) contacts in this league and region will be instrumental in our success."
Chizik earned his B.A. degree in education from Florida (1985) and his M.A. in guidance and counseling from Clemson (1991).
Chizik, a native of Clearwater, Fla., and his wife (Jonna) have identical twin daughters (Landry Grace and Kennedy Danielle) and one son, Cally.
Pronunciation: CHIZZ-ick – first syllable sounds like IS
CHIZIK QUICK FACTS
Children: daughters, Landry Grace and Kennedy Danielle and son, Cally
Born: Dec. 28, 1961
Education: B.A. from Florida (1985) and M.A. from Clemson (1991)
2005-06: Texas, Assistant Head Coach / Co-Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
2002-04: Auburn, Defensive Coordinator / Secondary
1999-2001: Central Florida, Defensive Coordinator / Secondary
1998: Central Florida, Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
1996-97: Stephen F. Austin, Defensive Coordinator / Secondary
1995: Stephen F. Austin, Assistant Coach / Secondary
1992-94: Stephen F. Austin, Assistant Coach / Linebackers
1990-91: Middle Tennessee State, Assistant Coach / Defensive Ends
1988-89: Clemson, Grad Assistant / Outside Linebackers
1986-87: Seminole (Fla.) HS, Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
2006 Rose Bowl (Texas defeated USC, 41-38)
2005 Sugar Bowl (Auburn defeated Virginia Tech, 16-13)
2003 Music City Bowl (Auburn defeated Wisconsin, 28-14)
2003 Capital One Bowl (Auburn defeated Penn State, 13-9)
1989 Gator Bowl (Clemson defeated West Virginia, 27-7)
1988 Citrus Bowl (Clemson defeated Oklahoma, 13-6)
1981 Peach Bowl (Florida lost to West Virginia, 6-26) – Chizik was a player