On Sunday, the Gene Chizik era came to an end for the Auburn football program. It has been a foregone conclusion that Chizik would not return since an 0-4 stretch in the month of October. Charles Goldberg of AL.com was the first to report the news.
Chizik finished his stint at Auburn with a 33-19 overall record, an SEC championship and a BCS National Championship.
Chizik left Auburn president Jay Gogue and athletic director Jay Jacobs no other choice but to do what happened on Sunday afternoon.
Auburn wasn't expected to contend for a championship this season. Realists knew that Auburn may take its lumps this year due to coordinator changes on both sides of the ball.
No one expected it to be this bad, though. Not with the level of recruiting that Auburn has done in the last three years. Not after defying most of the experts' predictions last year.
Last year, Auburn was expected to have a big drop-off due to the loss of a Heisman Trophy winner, an Outland Trophy winner and 23 seniors. The Tigers finished 8-5 in 2011.
More of the same was expected this year. Chizik could have likely survived with just a five-win season.
But to go winless in the SEC for the first time in 32 years and have the worst record two years after a national championship in the Associated Press era?
Final: No. 2 Alabama 49, Auburn 0. Tigers finish 3-9, worst record 2 seasons after national championship in AP era.— Ryan Wood (@AUBlog) November 24, 2012
You can't defend that.
When asked if he needed to make a case to Gogue and Jacobs about retaining his job, Chizik said, "I don't have to make a case. Y'all saw what y'all saw out there" (via Charles Goldberg, AL.com).
It wasn't just what Auburn fans saw yesterday, it was what they saw the entire 2012 season. It was what everyone saw. The media, rival programs, rival fans and recruits.
What people saw this season was clear.
It didn't look like a program that ranks in the top 15 in college football in terms of all-time wins. This season wasn't Auburn football.
It was embarrassing losses to traditional SEC doormats Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
It was a blowout loss at home to SEC newcomer, Texas A&M. That game saw the most points ever scored by an opponent in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game was over in the first quarter.
It was being outscored this year 87-0 in "Amen Corner" against Alabama and Georgia. The last two years it was 174-21.
It was the team regressing from week-to-week. The Auburn team that took the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium was a much worse team than the Auburn team that took the field against Clemson on September 1st in the Georgia Dome.
It was Auburn being attached to seemingly every piece of negative news in college football since 2010.
There's the case for Chizik. As he said in his post game press conference in reference to where the program is, "That's up to who the eye of the beholder is." From this view, the program is as low as it has been since 1980.
Chizik understood that he did not meet expectations in 2012 and change was necessary. (via Opelika-Auburn News)
"In my 27 years of coaching, I have gained an understanding of the high expectations in this profession. When expectations are not met, I understand changes must be made."
Auburn fans are just glad to see 2012 come to an end. They'll be watching their two biggest rivals play in what amounts to a BCS National Championship semi-final next weekend for the SEC Championship. Their Auburn Tigers were there just two short years ago.
Auburn fans will be forever grateful for the 2010 season and the championship that Chizik brought to the Plains. But two years ago feels like a lifetime and this program has hit rock bottom since then. As much as Chizik can be thanked for 2010, he can be blamed for 2012.
No one knows where Auburn will go from here, but it took the first step back to prominence by making this decision. Chizik gave it no other choice.