Gene Chizik is back for his second coaching stint with North Carolina football, this time under head coach Mack Brown to lead the Tar Heels’ defensive efforts.
UNC’s latest hire previously served as the program’s defensive coordinator from 2015-16 and was the head coach at Auburn during the team’s run to a national championship with Heisman-winning quarterback Cam Newton in 2010.
Chizik opened up on the move back into coaching and welcomed what he calls a final opportunity during Jan. 10 appearance on SEC This Morning with Peter Burns and Chris Doering.
“I’m getting into a point in my life where I’ve got one more shot left in me,” Chizik said on SEC Network. “I’ve always known that. And you know, I’ve turned down a lot of jobs over the years — both head-coach opportunities and coordinator opportunities. And the coordinator opportunities that I’ve turned down are because I don’t have to do this. I do it because I love it, but I have to be with the right guy. I have to be with a guy that I believe in. I have to be with a guy that I know. I have to be with a guy that I’m comfortable with. And what better way to go out for me — because this is my last shot.
“I’m not doing this again. I’m going to North Carolina. I’m being with what I consider to be one of my dearest and closest friends in Mack Brown. And what’s a better way to go out than with a guy that’s a college football hall-of-famer, right? And so, I’m with a great friend. It’s a place where I’ve been before, that I really enjoy, had two fantastic years there — and the only reason I got out then, guys, was because I needed to be with Cally — I needed to be with my son as he finished high school, and I wasn’t seeing him play enough. So I got out of coaching not knowing whether I’d get (back) in or not again but was willing to keep an open mind. And of all the last five years, you guys have been my team. And I’ve never been without a team for seven years. And you guys have been my team. And that’s why I love everybody so much at the network, because it’s been a blast. But I’ve got one more shot in me.
“And if I’m going to do it, I want to do it with a guy that I love. I want to do it at a place that I’ve been to and I love. So I’m going to give it another shot. As crazy as it is, man, I’ve got to learn the transfer portal, the NIL rules — I don’t know any of that stuff. And we’ve talked about it. I’ll jump back in and I’ll figure it all out. I’m going to have a lot of fun doing it, because it’s my last go around.”
InsideCarolina’s Jason Staples weighed in on the hire and said the addition of Chizik will help UNC’s defense by bringing credibility and a unified message.
Chizik has not held a college coaching job since his previous run as the Tar Heels’ defensive coordinator. Chizik served as an analyst for the SEC Network for the last five years. Chizik’s coaching resume dates back to 1986, highlighted by the aforementioned run as Auburn’s head coach from 2009-12.
He also had a stop as the head coach at Iowa State from 2007-08. Other previous assistant stops for Chizik include Texas (winning a national championship with Mack Brown), UCF and Clemson, among other schools.
Garrett Stepien contributed to this report.