As Auburn puts the finishing touches on a dismal 2012 season, the writing appears to be on the wall for coach Gene Chizik. According to a report from AuburnUndercover.com, the school is preparing a committee to help with a coaching search at the end of the season. It’s not a slam dunk Chizik is replaced, but the SEC’s 2010 Coach of the Year probably needs a win over Georgia or Alabama to save his job.
Chizik was a questionable hire from the start, especially after recording a 5-19 record at Iowa State. The Tigers went 8-5 in Chizik’s first season but claimed the 2010 national championship. However, since winning the BCS title, Auburn is just 10-12. Also, Chizik is a mediocre 18-17 at Auburn without Cam Newton under center.
Assuming there is a change at Auburn at the end of the season, who might be the Tigers’ next coach? Here are five names to keep in mind over the next few weeks:
Five Candidates to Watch if Auburn Fires Gene Chizik
Sonny Dykes, head coach, Louisiana Tech – Dykes is another name expected to get plenty of looks for open vacancies this offseason. In three years at Louisiana Tech, he has a 21-13 record and has experience as an assistant in the SEC at Kentucky. Dykes runs a high-powered offense, which has to be attractive after Auburn has fielded a lackluster attack the last two years.
Gus Malzahn, head coach, Arkansas State – Auburn fans are certainly familiar with Malzahn, as he helped to lead Auburn’s offense during the 2010 national championship season. Malzahn has only one year of collegiate head coaching experience but there’s no question he’s ready to takeover a BCS program. Would Auburn fans welcome Malzahn back after leaving at the end of last season?
Bobby Petrino, former Arkansas coach – There’s a lot of uncertainty where Petrino will land, but it’s a safe bet there will be a demand for his services. The former Arkansas coach has some baggage to deal with and will be on a short leash at his next job. However, Petrino is a winner and was one of college football’s top 10-15 coaches before his firing. Some schools may stay away from Petrino due to his off-the-field incident at Arkansas, but if the Montana native is interested in Auburn, the Tigers shouldn’t pass.
Charlie Strong, head coach, Louisville – Strong will be a popular name at several jobs this offseason but it’s not a guarantee he leaves Louisville this year or anytime soon. However, if Strong is interested in leaving, Arkansas and Auburn are two possible destinations. In three years at Louisville, Strong is 23-12 and has the Cardinals on the verge of an undefeated season in 2012.
Willie Taggart, head coach, Western Kentucky – Taggart is a rising star in the coaching ranks and will be in high demand this offseason. In three years at Western Kentucky, he is 15-18 and has the Hilltoppers in position to make a bowl game this year. Taggart will have his pick of jobs at the end of the season, which will allow him to be very selective if he wants to leave Western Kentucky before 2013.
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