In the annals of Iowa State Football, there lies a short stint of a 2-year career by a gentleman who doesn’t quite fit the picture of a Cyclone football coach.
That asshole goes by the name of Gene Chizik.
I remember like it was yesterday, I was a freshman in college, and was perusing the message boards more often than I was studying (or drinking Busch Light). Jamie Pollard had kept the coaching search more secret than before the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor.
Iowa State had just let go one of its all time greats in Dan McCarney, and the Cyclone faithful yearned for a homerun hire. There were a lot of names thrown around in the mix – Brian Kelly (at Central Michigan at the time), Jim Harbaugh (San Diego State, who turned down a supposed offer), Paul Rhoads, and Steve Loney to name a few. I remember ESPN reporting that Kelly had taken the job, but yet there was a man flying in from Austin, Texas who was the real winner.
Gene Chizik was named the new Iowa State football coach, and boy did he fire up the fan base. Immediately thereafter season tickets were bought by the thousands, and even Community State Bank donned the famous Chizik coins. It was truly a splash hire, and the former Texas Defensive Coordinator had just come off a National Championship AND was named Frank Broyles Award winner for Assistant Coach of the Year.
What could possibly go wrong you ask? Welp, it appeared Chizik had made a pledge to his buddies that once he became a head coach, he would hire them all to his staff, and none of them were a good fit for the Big 12, nor the state of Iowa.
If there was one thing the man could do – it was recruit. He brought in some diamonds in the rough – most namely Kelechi Osemele (a freaking 2-star), Ter’Ran Benton, Leonard Johnson, Jake McDonough, and Collin Franklin, to name a few.
What he couldn’t do was appeal to a fan base. Chizik was awful with the media, and I can relate first hand, as I was a student assistant with the ISU media relations department at the time. The man was just not very pleasing to listen to. He was even worse of a fit to the state of Iowa, where the term trying to fit a square peg in a round hole took on another meaning.
It was said after he took the job for Auburn that he brought the entire team into one room, told him he was leaving, and walked out. That was it
And then this happened.