Chizik faces challenges at Auburn: fans, recruiting

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - After Iowa State coach Gene Chizik's formal introduction Monday as Auburn head football coach, he must assemble a staff and salvage recruiting following Tommy Tuberville's resignation.

He also must convince Tiger fans he's the right coach for the challenges ahead, despite a 5-19 record at Iowa State the past two years. His Cyclones lost their final 10 games this season. In a statement, Chizik says through his travels in coaching over the last 23 years, he's always wanted to return to Auburn.

Chizik was the defensive coordinator at Auburn for the best record in school history one year - 2004- and won a national championship in the same role at Texas the next year. He says the tradition of the Auburn football program combined with the passionate fans and their love for Auburn are second to none.

The 46-year-old Chizik was hired Saturday in Memphis after three final days of negotiations and two face-to-face meetings with Auburn officials.

In a statement, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said, "I know that we have found the right fit for Auburn," describing Chizik as "a high-energy coach that is an outstanding motivator and demands a tough, physical style of football."

However, Auburn freshman Taylor Jones, who organized a rally in support of Tuberville last week, said he shared the reaction of many on campus -- shock, disappointment and disbelief.

But Auburn President Jay Gogue defended the hiring. He says he's confident that Chizik can build upon the foundation that has been established and make this a program that competes for championships on a consistent basis.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)