AUBURN — The news out of Knoxville on Sunday morning traveled across the SEC with little surprise. Volunteers football coach Derek Dooley was fired after a 41-18 thumping by in-state foe Vanderbilt on Saturday dropped Tennessee to 4-7 and 0-7 in the conference.
The move had been rumored for some time and is a bad omen for Auburn coach Gene Chizik. The SEC now has three coaching vacancies (Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee) come the end of the season, and like Auburn (3-8, 0-7 SEC), the Wildcats and Volunteers are both winless in conference, though one will get a win in this week’s head-to-head meeting, and also lost to Vanderbilt.
Chizik, who is 38-37 as a head coach, including 33-18 at Auburn, has been the subject of scrutiny and speculation for most of a historically poor season for the Tigers. Auburn is experiencing its worst season in 60 years and a loss to rival Alabama in this week’s Iron Bowl would end the first winless SEC season on the Plains since 1980 (0-6).
As he has all season, Chizik avoided questions regarding his job security.
“You’ve asked me that pretty much every week, and as I’ve said before, it’s very simple for me,” Chizik said. “We have a game against Alabama, and it’s the Iron Bowl, and that’s my No. 1 focus. I’m not focused on anything else but that.”
Chizik is under contract through 2015 but has a buyout in his contract which will depreciate to $7.5 million on Dec. 1.
The Tigers opened as 34-point underdogs to No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1) in this weekend’s Iron Bowl — the largest point spread ever recorded in the rivalry, according to one Las Vegas sports betting expert.
The perception of just about everyone outside the Tigers’ locker room is Auburn stands no chance against Alabama on
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