Iowa reaction on Chizik's Auburn interview

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Iowa State coach Gene Chizik's flirtation with Auburn about the Tigers' vacant head coaching job has prompted the response back home one might expect.

Sean Keeler, the lead columnist for the Des Moines Register, wrote this morning that the timing of Chizik's interview with the Tigers was "weird."

"A month ago, this is the same coach who went out of his way to publicly declare his love for all things Iowa State," Keeler wrote. "Chizik firmly denounced an assertion by two sports radio hosts in Dallas that he'd told some of his peers that he might have been, shall we say, a little hasty in leaving that defensive coordinator job at Texas to become Dan McCarney's replacement.
This winter, the Longhorns are playing in the Fiesta Bowl. ... Even if he didn't say it in so many words, the frustration would be understandable."

A Dallas Fort-Worth radio talk show host claimed that he had been told by an Oklahoma State assistant coach that Chizik had told him he regretted taking the Iowa State job and was more happy winning games as Texas' defensive coordinator.

That prompted an emotional statement from Chizik at a late-season press conference where he expressed his sense of loyalty to his new employers.

"I have spoken to the radio host of a show that, supposedly, this whole thing originated from, and he assured me that everything about that was simply not true ... As for me, I want to make one thing very, very clear: You guys have been reporting on me for a year and a half, and anybody who knows myself, my wife, my family; they know that we are firmly entrenched here in Ames. We love this university; we love who we work for; we love this football team; we love this community.

"If, two years ago, I had this same choice, I would do it again without any hesitation, whether we have won 10 games or two games. We are on a journey here that we will get done, and I'm as happy as I have ever been in the coaching profession, and I want to make that very clear."

Mike Hlas, the lead columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette wrote that Chizik's Auburn interview was "semi-shocking" but doesn't think that Chizik's interview will erode his support among Cyclone fans.

"Chizik is rolling the dice on this one. No one should begrudge anyone else a chance to move up in life if they aren't hurting someone.
Will this hurt feelings among Cyclone fans? It shouldn't.

Before coming to Iowa State, Chizik had an exemplary resume. He was Auburn's defensive coordinator from 2002-04, before taking a similar position at Texas. His teams had back-to-back undefeated teams at Auburn in 2004 and the Texas national championship team the following year with a personal 29-game winning streak over two-plus years with the Tigers and Longhorns.

National honors followed. Chizik won the Frank Broyles Award, honoring the nation's top assistant coach and was named on many lists as the nation's top future coach and top defensive coordinator.

In a sense, Chizik's white-hot coaching status a few years ago was a little like current Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. Many observers were surprised when he jumped at the Iowa State job to start his head coaching career. Unlike Muschamp, who parlayed his recent success into a head coach designate position at Texas, Chizik opted for the challenges of starting his career at Iowa State.

The Cyclones had 17 non-winning seasons in a 19-year period before Dan McCarney took them to five bowl games during a span of six season from 2000-05. McCarney was let go after a 4-8 record in 2006.

But Chizik has been challenged in the Big 12 North Division, posting a 5-19 record in his two seasons at Iowa State, including a 2-14 record in conference play.

Sometimes, the toughest decision for an ambitious coach is determining when and if to leave. It will be interesting to see if Chizik has learned anything from his previous career moves.