Editors note: I was in the middle of preparing this when al.com sports writer Kevin Scarbinsky posted his judgement of Gene Chizik. Instead of quitting, and leaving the story alone, I decided to forge ahead and post my version anyway. It isn't really a scoop type story, more of an opinion - My opinion.
When I think of Coach Chizik, I think of these traits as a man. He is strong in his beliefs. He has proven he is solid when the waters become choppy. Most importantly though, he is true. True to his family, true to his players, and their families. True to Auburn.
We only have to go back to 2010 to see how Gene Chizik handles adversity. The well known story of Cam Newton, the recruiting that surrounded his ending up at Auburn, and the media storm that followed all the accusations and outright lies about Newton. Through all of this, Chizik never flinched. His unwavering support of Newton, and uncompromising attitude kept those of us fans hoping against hope, that the media was wrong, and Auburn was right.
After all the facts were laid out, and a lengthy NCAA investigation unfolded, Auburn and Newton came through squeaky clean.
Did Coach Chizik hold a press conference and gloat about being right? No. Did he ever once say to the media"I told you so"? No. As a matter of fact, when asked about the situation, and how he felt about being right, Gene stated that he had "moved on".
So as we are surrendering ourselves to the ugly news of these horrible shootings, Gene Chizik makes a statement to the public, and holds a team meeting to let his team know that he is there for them.
"This is a sad, sad day for everyone associated with the entire Auburn family. I am devastated by the passing of three young men, including two that I personally knew in Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips and my heart goes out to their families. My thoughts and prayers are with their families and all of the victims involved in this tragic incident. Nobody should ever have to endure such unimaginable grief, and we will love and support the victims’ families during this terribly difficult time. We have a lot of people on our football team that are hurting right now and we’re going to do everything we can to help them get through this. We are relieved that Eric Mack, who was also a victim in this incident, is expected to make a full recovery. This is a very trying time for everyone involved, and I would just ask that you lift up the victims and their families in your prayers."
I recall the story of Shon Coleman, and his finding out that he had Acute Lymphoblast a form of Lukemia. As trying and shocking a revelation as that was, Coach Chizik met it head on by offering Shon Coleman and his family a scholarship at Auburn even if Shon could never play football again.
Auburn University, and it's football fans are indeed blessed to have a man of such high character leading it's football program.