Auburn players react to Chizik’s firing

By Zeke Turrentine

The Auburn Athletic Complex was a solemn, silent place on Sunday when players were informed of the impending departure of their head coach.

Thousand-yard rusher Tre Mason noted how heartbroken many of the players are.

“It was a rough day for everybody. There’s going to be a lot of tears shed because there’s a lot of relationships that may be put on hold or come to and end today,” said Mason. “I have nothing negative to say about coach Chizik because he’s done a lot for me and for this program. I wish him the best of luck in his future.”

Mason went into the Iron Bowl on Saturday needing 80 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. Auburn retook possession with 11 seconds remaining when Chizik told Mason he would get him the mark with one more carry.

“It just shows you what kind of guy he is. He sticks to his word, and he told me, ‘we’re going to go ahead and get you 1000 yards,'” Mason said. “We were in the last seconds of the game, and everybody gave their all. Everybody’s pushing me in my back, trying to get me those extra yards.”

Jeffrey Whitaker said he thinks what the next coach needs to do to be successful is follow a lot of the game plan that Chizik followed. But he also said the players could see the dismissal coming.

“When you go through a season 3-9, you kind of see the writing on the wall, but at the same time everybody just wants to stick with each other,” Whitaker said. “At the end of the day, we kind of recruited each other, so we’re very aware of each other, and we just want to stick with each other.”

Phillip Lutzenkirchen said he knows Chizik is disappointed in himself.

“He’s very hard on himself, and he knew as commander-in-chief of this program that three wins wasn’t going to cut it either,” Lutzenkirchen said. “It was an emotional meeting. I think we did what he deserved and gave him a standing ovation.”

Lutzenkirchen echoed a common theme from the year’s post-game press conferences, saying that although the coaches will the ones taking the majority of the blame, it’s the players who are on the field.

“Coach Chizik is going to take all the blame for it, but at the same time, we’re the ones playing the game, and we’re the ones out there. We’re giving our best effort, but our best effort wasn’t good enough,” he said. “It’s tough. There’s a lot of mixed emotions going on, but it’s what Auburn has to do right now, and we just have to look forward.

“There’s so much love for coach Chizik from this team,” he continued. “Would we have loved to see him get another year, another opportunity? Yes, but at the same time we understand where Jay Jacobs is coming from.”

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