Chizik Quiets Critics With Outback Bowl Bid: Auburn Set To Play Northwestern

Tucker SargentContributor IIIDecember 7, 2009

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers celebrates their 41-30 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

VH1 has a new television show set to hit airwaves on Jan. 1:

"Gene Chizik doubters: Where are they now?"

Just kidding.

But on a real note, it seems that all the trash talking about Auburn's first-year head coach has finally ceased.

After a not-so-warm welcome to Auburn last December, Chizik started proving his critics wrong from day one. 

According to Rivals.com, his first recruiting class on the Plains pulled in 28 new Tigers—a class that was good enough to rank 19th nationally.

Part of Chizik's early success stemmed from his unusual antics on the recruiting trail. 

Take, for instance, the "Tiger Prowl" earlier this year.

Usually, the maximum allowed (seven) assistant coaches at major programs embark on seven different recruiting journeys throughout the state. But in Chizik's case, the staff traveled together, riding in style in stretch limousines adorned with Auburn flags and magnets.

One would expect a stunt like this to receive criticism, and boy, did it ever. But pessimists never accomplish anything.

Auburn currently ranks ninth nationally in recruiting.

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Chizik has led his team to a 7-5 record in his first season, in a year that could have just as easily ended at 10-2.

Holding 14-point leads over Kentucky, Georgia, and Alabama, Auburn just didn't seem to have what it took to finish games this season due to what most would call a "lack of depth."

I must not have been the only one to take note of that fact.

Outback Bowl officials noticed too, and in an unprecedented move, picked Auburn (7-5, 3-5) over Tennessee to appear in their Jan. 1 bowl game against Northwestern (8-4, 5-3) in Tampa.

"When we heard of the Auburn fans chanting at the end of Friday's game (the Iron Bowl) 'It's great to be an Auburn Tiger' we knew there was something special about the excitement around this football team," said Jim McVay, Outback Bowl President. "The Tigers have everything we're looking for in a New Year's Day team—they are a tough, exciting team, extremely well coached, and have what might be the best fans in college football."

It looks like things are only looking up on the Plains, and Chizik's often spoken of "foundation" has now been built.

Keep doubting, haters, and to the Auburn Tigers: Merry Christmas. Enjoy your sunny Tampa vacation.

Kickoff for the 2010 Outback Bowl is set for Jan. 1 at 11:00 a.m. ET.


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