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Thursday, June 9, 2011
Auburn's Chizik keeping his guys in place

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Much has been made of all the players Auburn lost from its 2010 national championship team.

Only six starters return, and 35 of the players who were on the Tigers’ roster last season are no longer around.

Auburn coach Gene Chizik isn’t oblivious. He understands the challenge that awaits the Tigers in 2011 as they dive back into the SEC fray without key players like Cam Newton and Nick Fairley.

But while there has been considerable turnover among the players, there’s been very little turnover among the Auburn coaches.

In fact, only one assistant has left since Chizik took the job prior to the 2009 season, and that was defensive line coach Tracy Rocker this past February for a position on the Tennessee Titans' staff.

Chizik said there’s no substitute for that kind of stability on a coaching staff, particularly when you’re breaking in so many new players.

“The value of having our staff back is huge,” Chizik said. “There are certain things I look at when you’re looking at your football team, and we start everything with the continuity of our coaching staff. To me, that’s one of the keys.

“We don’t want our players to walk into a meeting room every two years and have to figure out who his new coach is. It hasn’t happened yet, and that’s by design.”

Several Auburn assistants received lucrative overtures following this past season and decided to stay put, most notably offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, receivers coach Trooper Taylor and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes.

Chizik said there’s been a commitment to keep the Tigers’ staff in place that goes above him.

“I get great support from our administration and Dr. [Jay] Gogue and [athletic director] Jay Jacobs on the idea of having some stability and continuity on our staff,” Chizik said. “That’s No. 1 for me. To have young guys like we have now who are coming in, but they don’t have to be inexperienced and young and learn a new coach and learn a new system, is extremely important to me.

“Even though we have young guys who are going to be coming up and playing, they’ve heard the same thing going on three years now. In my opinion, that’s invaluable in trying to build a foundation and move in the right direction.”