Auburn Football Scandal: Gene Chizik Must Be Blackballed If Allegations Are True

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2013

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 6:  Head coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers argues a call during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 6, 2012 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Less than three years ago, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik was on top of the college football world as his Tigers won the national championship. If the allegations levied against the program during Chizik's time there prove to be true, though, he doesn't deserve another chance to coach.

According to Selena Roberts of Roopstigo, Chizik, as well as other coaches and authority figures, broke a number of NCAA rules in order to keep players academically eligible and to keep them in school, as well. Players' grades were allegedly changed in order to ensure that they could play, and some players were reportedly paid to not enter the NFL draft.

Although there is no hard evidence at this point, the NCAA figures to launch a full-scale investigation and is likely to find something if any transgressions truly took place. Not only would the Auburn football program take a major hit in the form of potentially forfeiting scholarships, wins and possibly even its 2010 national championship, but Chizik would be in dire straits, as well.

Chizik was terminated at the end of the 2012 season, but his firing was performance-based. The Tigers went just 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC last year, so a change was made despite Chizik's status as a national championship-winning coach just two years earlier.

While Chizik hasn't yet caught on with another program, it seemed to be a matter of time before he would after getting fired. With such explosive allegations being thrown in his direction and the direction of the Auburn football program, however, it is possible that no FBS school will be interested in bringing him in.

Even if Chizik is ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing, high-profile schools are definitely going to be cautious. If Chizik is found to be guilty of the allegations that Roberts has set forth, though, it will be nearly impossible for Chizik to get a coaching job for the foreseeable future.

Coaches who are attached to scandals such as this one tend to be avoided like the plague until things blow over. Should the Auburn scandal be proven true, however, it is very likely that Chizik will be hit with a show-cause penalty. A show-cause penalty essentially means that any restrictions placed upon a coach will also be taken on by the school that hires him.

This is what happened to former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, who also won a national championship. Tressel couldn't get another NCAA head coaching job, so he spent a year as a consultant with the Indianapolis Colts and is now an administrator at the University of Akron in a non-football capacity.

Depending on the validity of the claims against Auburn, Chizik could be in the same situation. Programs could still hire him at their own risk, but it is extremely unlikely that any schools would take a leap of faith despite Chizik's national championship pedigree. If grades were indeed changed and players were paid to stay in school, then Chizik's title isn't legitimate, anyway.

Chizik isn't necessarily a bad coach purely from a football perspective, but most observers credit quarterback Cam Newton with Auburn's national championship more so than Chizik. Whatever the case, Chizik needs to be punished accordingly if the allegations are true, and every major program needs to come together in order to make sure that happens.

It can be argued that such a practice would constitute collusion, but that would be difficult to prove since the schools could just point to a potential show-cause penalty. With so many scandals surrounding college sports right now, it is paramount to weed out anyone who is contributing to them in a major way.

While it's still uncertain what Chizik was directly responsible for, if anything, his reputation has already taken a major hit. Being found guilty could very well spell the end of Chizik as a major college football coach.

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