Gene Chizik leaves skid marks on Iowa.

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We’ve seen coaches come and go, but rarely has an exit caused an uproar like Gene Chizik’s. There are several reasons, but none more compelling than a story as old as time. To paraphrase Dennis Green, he’s not who we thought he was.

Chizik played high and mighty during his two years in Ames. He constantly talked values, commitment, and integrity. He had bibles on his desk. He insisted on a team Chaplain. Chizik looked a lot of young men right in the eyes and promised them that together they’d build something special at Iowa State. He asked their mothers and fathers to trust him. He urged fans to believe in the journey, and open their wallets along the way. Then he left broken hearts all over Iowa State University, and skid marks on Ames. Raise your hand if you don’t think Chizik actually told people he regretted taking the job?

Chizik did nothing to me. He was the kind of guy you could interview 50 times and feel like you didn’t know him at all. Not the real him. In that way, he reminded me of Steve Alford. Alford could forget he met you, 10 minutes after meeting you. Unfortunately, Chizik’s players learned first hand just how cold blooded he is. He reportedly spent about two minutes explaining his decision to not see anything through. He talked for more than 30 minutes at his Auburn news conference and never once thanked Iowa State or Jamie Pollard for the opportunity. No apologies either. What would Jesus do? Not that.

Anyone should understand a man taking a better job for more money. Keno Davis did it. And he did it after just one year. But there are many differences. Keno actually accomplished something before leaving. Something like championships. He never held a news conference to delcare his love of Iowa. Or to say he was “firmly entrenched”. He just said he was happy and had no plans to leave. Near as I can tell, both were true. Keno also wasn’t the face and future of the program.

Jamie Pollard put it all on Chizik. And Chizik knew that. Heck, he took advantage of it. Overpaying assistant coaches, insisting the uniforms, school colors, and logo be changed, taking the names off the back of the uniforms… If Chizik wanted it, he got it. The payoff was promised as championships.

Iowa State was never near a championship. It was only two years, but I saw next to nothing promising greatness. Not all coordinators make good head coaches. Much has been made of Chizik’s undefeated teams at Texas and Auburn, but with the athletes those schools attract, winning sure didn’t leave when Gene did.

Now that Chizik’s gone, it’s easy to pile on with criticism we didn’t hear before. Some of that makes sense. We learned more about Chizik the man. However, many of us were unimpressed with Chizik the coach. The Cyclones were undisciplined, the sideline chaotic, and Iowa State found ways to lose games it should have won. It would have gotten better, but Chizik realized he was in over his head long before Auburn threw him a lifeline. Someone in the Iowa State athletic department told me two years ago he knew Chizik had no idea what he was getting into there when he talked about winning a national championship at Texas with only two elite players, the rest were role players. Yeah, right. 5-star role players.

Chizik was hired to take Iowa State to the next level, but like Alford at Iowa, that level was down, not up. Chizik recruited a lot of promising talent to Ames, and most of those players will end up staying. They won’t want to sit out a year. When you’re 19, a year seems like forever.

The irony here is Pollard gets a “do-over”. Why he offered Chizik a two year contract extension is beyond my comprehension, but Jamie thought Gene was on his way to big things. I didn’t see it.

Cyclone fans should pop corks. Pollard too. Chizik was a phony and never a good fit. He didn’t want to be in Iowa, couldn’t wait to leave, and now finds himself surrounded by a posse of angry Auburn fans.

Some of the above explains part of our fascination with this story. The rest comes down to one much simpler thought:

Can you believe Auburn hired a guy riding a 10 game losing streak?

They can have him.


  • Anonymous

    Now that the SOB is gone, let’s go back to the old uniforms and helmets! I think CY and the fans would like that better, too! Terry “Neg” Negri

  • Anonymous

    Murph, your willingness to be candid is why we love you. I dare anyone to accuse keith of pandering to head coaches…I think it’s telling about a person when someone as levelheaded as Keith is willing to “tell it like it is” in this case. Gene Chizik is the new Steve Alford. Cyclones and Hawkeyes can finally bond over something. :)

  • Anonymous

    My guess is we haven’t been given the whole story yet. I’m guessing in a few days we will get reports of Gene popping up on the Facebook pages of Kent State or UNLV students posing with drunken coeds and hoisting a brew. Gene didn’t do his homework. He could have gotten ISU to pay him to go to Auburn. Oh well, he’ll get his chance to try that tick in a year or so when they fry him alive down South.

  • Anonymous

    Spot on Murph!Chizik will get what he deserves when he doesn’t win at Auburn! Auburn fans are already angry over the hire, so “The Chiz” will get even less time to win!P.S. Leave the uniforms alone, that was the best thing he accomplished!

  • Jason

    You were always more skeptical critical of Gene than Cyclone fans and you were right all along. Great write up, now let’s get a real coach!

  • Anonymous

    If Marty Tirrell is right, and for all of humanity I hope he isn’t, but ISU hiring Mike Stoops would be a head scratcher too. He’s been a head coach for 5 years and has 1 winning season, 21-32 overall.Heres a tip to the kids and parents of kids out there. If you would like to be well below average and still make 7 figures annually, either become a college football head coach or a left handed MLB pitcher.

  • shane - marshalltown

    First off, fantastic job Keith…awesome entry!Secondly, best case scenario would be if McBrewski has twin boys, so he doesn’t waste one name as the middle name…and you’d better get to work fast McBrewski…before 24-23 Miller is too old to be their first crush!

  • Anonymous

    When does 24-23 Miller become legal? Is there a countdown clock out there on the web I can check out for that?

  • Anonymous

    “I am a False Prophet. Tampa 2 is a superstition.”“Say it like you mean it!”“I AM A FALSE PROPHET. TAMPA 2 IS A SUPERSTITION”There will be blood. “War Eagle” (barf!)

  • shane - marshalltown

    “When does 24-23 Miller become legal? Is there a countdown clock out there on the web I can check out for that?”Hassel and Miller are hammering out the details and Gracie Miller doesn’t seem to be embracing the idea…might take a drastic spike in allowance to get it done…

  • Anonymous

    Spot on Murph. Never was a fan of Gene 'Cheezdik'. I mostly feel bad for those young men in the locker room. They were promissed more than you or I. We fans and alumni on the outside are waiting and hoping for a coach. How do you think those athlete's feel? As for the uniforms, I did like them, the only good thing Chizik did was lose the red/blue/yellow and get us back to the Cardinal & Gold that is ISU. But can we get CY back too? I-State? There are more I-States, but there is only one CY! Did I 'Most feared mascot' champion? Capitol One Bowl finals? Bring CY back to the fore front.

  • Anonymous

    Great Job Keith!! Now all they need to do is get the Toy Drive commericals off the air that have him and Kirk. And by the way… GO HAWKEYES!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I know it sucks for ISU fans that Chizik left. I think it is for the better though as there was really no improvements over the two years he did coach there.With that being said, I know Cyclone Nation has the pitckforks and torches out on Chizik and want him to fail, but, in all honesty, I think that he will win games at Auburn.As a Hawkeye fan, my heart is broken for ISU football and what has transpired over the past 3 years or so. I hope the Cyclones do get a good coach and makes the team better so the Iowa/ISU rivalry will be fun again. I mean, it’s not right to kick a team while they are down and I never will.I’m throwing this out there, but how does Chuck Long sound as a potential head coach for ISU?–Gary

  • Anonymous

    I guess I will be the only one to disagree with Murph. Quite frankly I have seen enough on the message boards this week to leave me disappointed. Would we really be this upset if he were leaving after being 19-5 instead of 5-19. Anyone who didn’t think that he would be moving on after a few years is frankly not being realistic. While I am surprised that Auburn hired him now, I cannot fault the man for taking the job. He would have been stupid not to.What is surprising is that everyone is acting like a jilted lover here. Why not accept it for what it is and move on? I believe despite the record that Chizik had, he left a foundation of talent to build on for the next coach and I am confident that JP will find a good one.What’s worse? Not following through on a commitment to build a winner and leaving for a huge opportunity for both himself and his family or acting like babies and attacking the man’s character and credentials on a message board after he leaves? I personally think the right thing to do is to wish him and his family well and move on, which is exactly what I am going to do.

  • central iowa

    Keith…..I’m a first time blogger, but have appreciated and loved your humor for years! Didn’t know you could write so well, too, but it doesn’t surprise me!! Oh yeh, I’m not a Cyclone fanatic, but the Auburn switch-a-roo is a great storyline! I wish Paul Rhoads luck!

  • Anonymous

    Very well stated. I especially like the Alford – Chizik comparison which is right on target. Both “coaches” are aloof to the point of having every appearance of having their heads someplace where the sun never shines. Keep up the good work Keith.

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