CR Gazette Article

Discussion in 'CF Archive Bin' started by cytech, Dec 3, 2006.

  1. cytech

    cytech Well-Known Member

    Apr 10, 2006
    Hiawatha, Iowa
    +148 / 8 / -0
    Nice article in todays gazette about the Chiz....

    Chizik: A life tied to football

    Published: 12/02/2006 11:34 PM Updated: 12/02/2006 11:35 PM

    By: Jeff Johnson - The Gazette AMES, IA - Gene Chizik went home to Clearwater, Fla., one Christmas for a visit.
    A young assistant football coach for Middle Tennessee State University at
    the time, he bumped into this cute blonde who had just graduated from Florida
    State. He didn't recognize her at first, but she knew exactly who he was.
    Jonna Nicely's father, John, was Chizik's high school football coach and had
    pictures hung in his home of his team captains through the years. Chizik was
    one of those captains.
    ``I always enjoyed being around him,'' John Nicely said. ``He gave it
    everything he had, worked very hard. His teammates respected him.''
    Chizik eventually remembered Jonna Nicely. She was that hyper little
    fifth-grade moppet always running around the field back when he played for her
    The two began dating and married. They have 8-year-old twin daughters,
    Landry and Kennedy, and a 5-year-old son, Cally.
    Cally is named after a player Chizik coached at Stephen F. Austin, who died
    of a brain aneurysm.
    ``I was just flabbergasted when they began dating and got married,'' John
    Nicely said. ``It was like God's plan. I couldn't think of anybody better to
    marry my daughter than Gene.''
    Gene Chizik is described by those who know him closely as a religious,
    family oriented man. It's God, his wife and children, and everything else, in
    that order.
    That everything else, of course, includes football. It seems most things in
    Chizik's life have football tied to them.
    He's the son of a longtime educator and coach, Gene Chizik Sr., a former
    Marine who died four years ago. He married his high school coach's daughter
    and has a son named after a former player.
    He has made a career out of coaching, meticulously working his way up the
    college football ladder. He began almost 20 years ago as a graduate assistant
    at Clemson and has reached the top rung, or at least close to it, as Iowa
    State's head coach.
    Gene Chizik and football have always seemed to go together.
    ``I always knew he was going to be a head coach someday,'' said Phillip
    Lolley, who worked with Chizik at Auburn. ``There was no question in my mind
    ... It's very unique what he has. It's special.''
    ``It sounds like he's got everything he needs at Iowa State,'' said Sam
    Roper. ``I told him, `It's yours to mess up.' ... I can't imagine him not
    doing a great job there.''
    Roper was the guy who really got Chizik started on this coaching odyssey.
    Roper was an assistant for Nicely at Clearwater High School back when Chizik
    was a ``freshman linebacker with this Afro hairdo.''
    Roper eventually became head coach at nearby Seminole High School and
    convinced recent University of Florida graduate Chizik he should try his hand
    at coaching. Chizik, who played only one year at Florida because of a back
    injury, was a defensive assistant at Seminole in 1986, then moved up to a
    defensive coordinator's position the next year.
    ``I remember Gene gave me a piece of paper before our first game (that
    year),'' Roper said. ``I asked him what it was, and he said, `Well, this is
    the game plan I made up for the defense.' I said, `What are you giving it to
    me for?' He said, `You're the coach.'
    ``I told him, `No, you're the one coaching the defense.'''
    It wasn't long after those naive days at Seminole when Chizik got his first
    college gig. With the help of Roper, he secured a graduate assistant's
    position with Clemson in 1988.
    That got the ball rolling. His first true college coaching job came two
    years later when he was hired by Boots Donnelly to coach defensive ends for
    Middle Tennessee.
    ``You never know what you're going to get when you hire a guy,'' Donnelly
    said. ``But we brought him in, and he picked things up quickly. I remember how
    well he communicated with the players, how well he recruited.''
    From Middle Tennessee, Chizik moved to Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches,
    Texas, where he became a defensive coordinator for the first time in 1996. He
    went back home to Florida in 1998, serving as DC for four years at Central
    In Orlando, Chizik got the opportunity to study with the NFL's Tampa Bay
    Buccaneers. On his own time, Chizik made 90-minute commute to Tampa just to
    hang around head coach Tony Dungy, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and
    other Bucs assistants.
    He wanted to soak up everything he could, wanted to learn everything he
    could about their defense.
    ``He really enjoyed it,'' Kiffin said. ``He was a football junkie who
    always wanted to learn. He's really taken it to another level.
    ``I assure you Iowa State hired an outstanding coach. He has great people
    skills, great player skills. He has a good defensive package.''
    Armed with that newly acquired NFL knowledge, Chizik got his first taste of
    the big time as a coach when he took the defensive coordinator's job at Auburn
    in 2002. His defenses in 2003 and 2004 ranked in the top five nationally and
    he was given the 2004 Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach.
    But it wasn't just the ``Xs and Os'' that made Chizik such a hit with his
    players. He was demanding on the field, but a friend off it.
    Those are his strengths as a coach, Lolley said.
    ``He'd tell them, `I want your best, and that's all I'm grading you on,'''
    Lolley said. ``He is a very direct guy, a very fair guy. You will always know
    where you stand with him. The players there will love playing for him.''
    Lolley said Auburn's players loved playing for Chizik.
    ``The players here, the seniors who were with him, still ask me about him
    all the time,'' he said. ``They ask me, `When was the last time you talked to
    Coach Chizik? Say hello to him for me.'''
    Chizik helped win a national championship last season as co-defensive
    coordinator at Texas. He moved to Austin so he could be better prepared for
    that first, inevitable head coaching job.
    That job has come at Iowa State, something that surprised a lot of
    outsiders, who figured he would wind up at a higher-profile program.
    ``He's a great fit there,'' Donnelly said. ``I was surprised, truthfully,
    that Iowa State was able to pick him up as quickly as they did.''
    But Iowa State wooed Chizik extensively, making him feel wanted. He and ISU
    Athletics Director Jamie Pollard hit it off from the beginning and seem to
    have the same ideals for the program. Chizik is getting the institutional
    support he needs to take Iowa State to ``the next level.''
    Now it's up to him. Those who know him have no doubt he'll get there.
    ``The thing that's exciting to me is how I've seen him grow up as a
    coach,'' Roper said. ``I think Iowa State made a great choice.''
    ``I think Iowa State is the perfect match for Gene,'' Nicely said. ``Give
    him time. He'll do very well there.''
  2. uro cy

    uro cy Well-Known Member

    Oct 28, 2006
    +171 / 0 / -0
    Thanks for the post...props to you
  3. cytech

    cytech Well-Known Member

    Apr 10, 2006
    Hiawatha, Iowa
    +148 / 8 / -0
    Not many days in eastern iowa you can wake up to see a mention of a iowa state article on the front page of the gazette. Hopefully with the hire we get alot more of that :biggrin9gp:
  4. Wesley

    Wesley Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2006
    Envr Engr/Program Manager
    +544 / 0 / -0
    Yeah, they passed the Rag up on this one. Maybe they feel that things might be moving on up in three years in Ames.
  5. amyk33

    amyk33 Active Member

    Mar 29, 2006
    +0 / 0 / -0
    #5 amyk33, Dec 3, 2006
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2006
    Wow...I love hearing what his friends, family, and former employers say about him. It's a true testament not only to the coach he is, but the man he is. Is it September yet??

    His life sounds like it could make a great episode of "Friday Night Lights".
  6. Wesley

    Wesley Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2006
    Envr Engr/Program Manager
    +544 / 0 / -0
    Sounds like he is really religious. That helps with recruiting Southern boys to Ames. Wonder if he is Baptist background also.

    URBCLONE Well-Known Member

    Mar 26, 2006
    project management
    +60 / 0 / -0
    ISU got a great FB coach and it sounds like a great man as well. I guess I shouldn't be surprised given who conducted the search!

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